The mobile internet and connected objects have massively changed our relationship with sporting events, by offering spectators an experience which is not only mobile but also features an enhanced range of content and services. Developed by clubs and organizers, apps for smartphones and tablets now compete with traditional TV broadcasters by offering the chance to watch live games while on the move, replay the action in slow motion, access statistics and interview highlights, discuss the game with other supporters, etc. Mobile screens are therefore now a vital medium, whether at home or out and about.
But it is in stadiums that smartphones and other connected objects are really revolutionizing the spectator experience with new premises designed to adapt to these new connected mobile technology uses. Whereas they used to stand out for their architecture or capacity, stadiums are now competing in terms of technology and innovation, aiming to build supporters’ loyalty and offer them greater comfort, a wider range of services and a more entertaining event.
Permanent connection and wifi on all floors
Professional clubs in Europe and North America have been quick to understand that if they want to continue to attract high visitor numbers to their stadiums, they need to provide services justifying the high entry prices. For example, you need to spend £130 on match day to watch London team Arsenal play. Modern stadiums have therefore adapted to new behavior, firstly by offering free and unlimited network access, allowing fans to watch the game on the pitch, but also on their connected devices via wifi which is now available throughout the stands and covered areas.
As is often the case, the movement started with the powerful American Football League (NFL). Teams such as the Baylor Bears, Nebraska Cornhuskers, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots were the first to offer mobile apps enabling them to connect to spectators. This gives them access to exclusive statistics, allows them to choose the angle of slow-motion replays, create customized tables of statistics, etc. In terms of marketing, the San Francisco 49ers have also incorporated a mobile ticketing service into their app, not only allowing fans entry to the stadium, but also to make payments, build up loyalty points, etc.
It also allows them to avoid queues during the intervals at drinks stands and merchandise stalls, by buying and paying online for t-shirts or their favorite meal or drink – all delivered to them at their seat in the stands.
In Europe, the modernization of stadiums for successive rugby and football world cups in Germany, France and England naturally allows the old continent to introduce similar services. In order to modernize and increase the safety of the supporters’ and visitors’ experience, OT is providing contactless access control and payment cards for the brand-new Parc Olympique Lyonnais, inaugurated in France on January 9, 2016. Two types of card solution have been designed and developed for fans. The first, the contactless “Visitors” card is available already and allows payments to be made within the stadium, as well as online, and participation in the loyalty program. The entire stadium will be cashless, with only OL cards or bank cards accepted as means of payment.This will be expanded in mid-2016 to include the contactless “Subscribers” card (the Olympique Lyonnais card) which, in addition to payments and customized services, will allow access to the stadium and participation in a unique loyalty program.
All these new initiatives are therefore contributing to creating the same level of viewing comfort in the stadium as can be enjoyed at home, as well as everything which makes a live event enjoyable, from the atmosphere to the supporters’ chants, proximity to the players, etc. This offers spectators a new, richer and more attractive experience. For clubs, it represents additional income and new opportunities for marketing (more in-depth knowledge of behavior, creation of databases, etc.) and developing relations with fans.