Game attendance at stadiums has been declining steadily in Sydney year on year since 2011, as people choose the convenience of watching sporting events in the comfort of their own home over heading out to a public venue. Television networks haven’t helped, by scheduling games on Thursday nights at 8pm, or Sunday afternoons at 4.40pm. Although these are prime television viewing times, they’re not ideal times to head out to the city and wrestle with traffic to sit outside in the open. Although the NSW State Government has earmarked $1.5 billion in funding to new stadiums, much discussion has centred on the issues that impact attendance rates at sports venues: Rising ticket prices, the hassle of traffic and crowds, and advances in viewing technology at home that allow people to watch games in high-definition on multiple devices. As far as fans are concerned, sporting venues need to offer more than just a game to capture and sustain their attention.
There are many reasons why boosting game attendance at stadiums is good for our community. Watching our most accomplished teams compete at sporting events can ignite a passion for the game within the younger generations and inspire all of us off the lounge to become more active. Meanwhile, teams need the support of fans too. Sports psychologists say crowded stadiums can spur our sporting heroes to achieve their best performance. Fans can encourage a team when they’re exhausted and energise them when their spirits are flagging.
There are a range of technology initiatives that can lure fans back to our nation’s stadiums.
Much work is occurring in the background to address NSW transport issues. According to NSW government’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy, customer transport experiences will be seamless, interactive and personalised, supported by technology and data. Personal mobility packages will integrate with traditional ‘modes’ such as buses, trains, light rail, cycling and walking as well as technology platforms such as on-demand, car share, rideshare and smart parking. The NSW Government is already trialling an early form of this technology on the Northern Beaches where customers access carparks at some B-Line bus stops with Opal cards.
Tennis Australia and Fan Cam
Capturing the fun and atmosphere of the crowd is now possible with Fan Cam. Last year, Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, trialled a new in-arena experience. Fans were prompted to visit a mobile site on their smartphones, where they entered their seat number before posing for a camera positioned in the roof. They then received the photos on their phones and could share them on digital walls inside the 15,000-seat stadium.
Mixed reality at sporting events
One reason fans choose to watch the game at home is they experience all the enhancements provided by television networks. For example, the moment-by-moment expert commentary by sports personalities and interviews with players during breaks are missing in the live experience. Mixed reality (MR) presents many opportunities in stadiums. Fans can wear a MR headset and listen to the same commentary that viewers hear at home. MR glasses let you also see the game from different angles, all from the comfort of your stadium seat. Player statistics can display in your MR glasses. You can see and hear referee decisions, adding to game knowledge. Fans can then also see the pitch and stadium wash with colour when team players score goals, just as viewers at home see.
Captive Wi-Fi or a Captive Portal
Enhancing the stadium experience and engaging fans is fundamental to keep them returning. It’s possible now for stadiums and brands to personally engage with fans at games and fans can connect with each other using social media and other platforms. The team and brand sponsors can also add a dimension they would not experience at home.
When fans access their mobile device at a stadium, a web page or splash screen appears before they can access the internet, apps, or services. Fans are prompted to sign up using an email address or social media login, giving stadiums the opportunity to build a database and begin a long and mutually beneficial relationship with their customers.
Stadiums may already offer complimentary Wi-Fi services to fans. The Mobiconnect Captive Wi-Fi allows you to customise your customers’ experience as they access your complimentary Wi-Fi.
Mobiconnect gives you an easy DIY cloud-based platform for stadiums to customise their Wi-Fi page, publish content and even serve up ads, enabling you to commercialise your guest Wi-Fi experience. Mobiconnect provides your end users with a much richer experience simply by connecting to your Wi-Fi. At the end of the game, you will have a raft of insights to improve your understanding of your customers and their needs and interests.
Mobiconnect and connected stadiums
Mobiconnect powers the captive Wi-Fi’s of three Australian stadiums, driving fan engagement:
From enhancing the stadium experience to enriching attendee viewing experience, there are many technological enhancements that can lure fans back from their lounge rooms. The NSW government is planning seamless transport connections supported by technology and data, to bring more people into precincts safely. Fan Cam can capture an image of you and your friends within the throng and atmosphere of the crowd. Mixed reality technology can augment the stadium experience with many of the features offered by television networks, while captive Wi-Fi can connect fans with each other and amplify their experience. Now there’s every reason why fans would prefer to watch their favourite sports events at a stadium, with all the excitement and energy of a live performance.
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