The long wait is almost over. What seemed like an eternity to football fans is now just days away. Both college football and the NFL are constantly changing. From new coaches, new players, new stadiums, and this year with the addition of a college football playoff. In addition to the game consistently being updated, so too is the fan experience. With technology encompassing ones everyday life, incorporating new features to stadiums was not only crucial to the atmosphere of games, but also increasing and maintaining fan attendance.
Collegiate and professional stadiums’ number one competitor is television. With stadiums becoming harder to fill on game day, teams are putting together plans to enhance the in-stadium game day experience to encourage fan attendance and engagement.
The first step of improving fan experience has been the addition of Wi-Fi to many stadiums. This connectivity allows fans to gain access to services like social media and messaging that has been difficult to obtain in the past due to large crowds. With the use of Wi-Fi, a few teams like the Baylor Bears, Nebraska Cornhuskers, San Francisco 49ers, and the New England Patriots have created mobile apps to engage with fans and allow them to connect to their team on a whole new level. Through these mobile apps, fans are able to see instant replays from multiple angles, browse through scores and schedules, as well as creating personal dashboards.
Host of Super Bowl 50 in 2016, the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi Stadium is arguably the most technologically advanced and fan-friendly stadium there is to date.
The use of the app will help collect data on fans. Team personnel want to be able to track and monitor fan behavior and the decisions they make while attending games. This will help marketing and communication departments across the country better understand the consumer behavior of their fans. The new information will allow athletic departments to create better avenues for fan engagement.
“As technology continues to improve, fans are engaging with college sports across all platforms of social media during games,” said Kelly Mosier, the Husker Athletics Director of Digital Media.
These new gadgets and gizmo’s are large monetary investments for these stadiums, so how can they ensure fans utilize them?
Player marketing could become a huge asset to these stadiums. Not only do players have extreme amounts of influence over the target market, but they are also motivated to fill the stadium to create a better in-game atmosphere.
Ole Miss has implemented a rewards program along with their app. Rewarding fans for participation is a great way to encourage long-term engagement.
Advertising on the Jumbotron will be crucial in building awareness for the new in-game features. Getting the word out stadium-wide with everything from print ad’s to PA announcements will be how fans first become familiar with the apps.
With access to Wi-Fi, fans inside the stadium will be more active on social media platforms than in the past. Integrating social media within the new apps will add another avenue of engagement and will make the apps the only source of information fans need on game day.
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