Unified communications (UC) offers numerous capabilities to extend an event’s experience, both within and beyond the stadium. For fans, the experience of attending a baseball game, tennis match or other athletic event no longer begins and ends in the stadium. Today’s technology makes it easier for them to engage with the team and the game from any location or device.
But technology is also transforming the types of experiences sports venues can deliver, making it possible to create innovative fan experiences. However, whether they’re sending attendees traffic updates or immersing at-home viewers in virtual reality, venues first need to have the right communications infrastructure in place.
Let’s look at five examples of how sports facilities are transforming the fan experience with UC’s support.
VR gets in the game with UC
Advances in virtual reality (VR) enable an enriched experience for fans in the stadium and at home. Poor seating? No problem. VR headsets gives fans a sideline view of the game. Thanks to VR cameras mounted on players’ helmets, they can experience a touchdown play or victory lap firsthand and watch replays from multiple angles.
At home, they can pay to watch live streaming of games through VR headsets, getting a “front-row seat” from the comfort of their home. With subscription or pay-per-view pricing for these VR experiences, sports organizations stand to earn significant additional revenue.
Several sports teams already embrace this technology. For example, fans of the Golden State Warriors can participate in warm-ups with the team through a VR experience created in partnership with Accenture. As mixed reality headsets continue to evolve, fans will also be able to see interactive player stats during games and watch multiple contests at once. With UC, venues have the bandwidth they need to deliver VR video to fans wherever they are.
Couch fans get mobile
Since the cost of attending sporting events has been increasing, many fans opt to watch from home on high-definition televisions. But venues can entice at-home viewers back to the stadium with new and improved mobile experiences.
Since consumers prefer to use their smartphones for everything from purchasing tickets to buying concessions, delivering a mobile experience is both essential and profitable. Research shows fans who pay with cashless RFID methods spend, on average, twice as much as those using cash payments.
Sports venues can leverage mobile devices for more than just payments, too. With a stadium app, fans order food from their seats, find the nearest restroom with the shortest line, purchase team apparel and get updates on traffic and parking congestion before and after the game.
Unified Communications keeps games in play and fans connected
Time-outs and pitcher changes are another opportunity to engage fans on their mobile devices. Interactive games keep viewers interested during such breaks in play. Likewise, social networks provide numerous ways to engage attendees and motivate them to share their experiences. At the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., for example, fans enter their seat number into a mobile app. Stadium cameras then snap and send a candid photo in real-time to the attendee, who can then share it online.
Of course, stadiums need a communications infrastructure capable of supporting this activity. Unified communications keeps teams and fans connected even when the stadium is at capacity.
Every experience is unique
Delivering such in-stadium experiences and purchases via smartphones provides venues with a lot of data. That, in turn, helps them personalize things even more. For example, arenas can tailor offers based on past purchases or each user’s preferences. A regular attendee might receive an offer for a discount on team gear, while a first-timer might receive a buy-one-get-one-free e-coupon for ice cream during the seventh inning stretch. When the contact center is integrated with unified communications, the stadium can deliver such offers in real time.
Views from the field
Although wearables are still somewhat new to the scene, sport organizations like the NFL are already making smart use of the technology. By integrating RFID chips into players’ shoulder pads and footballs, the teams can deliver enhanced statistics to the scoreboard. This approach is expected to increase fan engagement, particularly through social media and increased streaming viewership.
Interactive gaming, virtual court-side seats and immersive mobile experiences will soon be the new normal for sports venues and fans, and what makes these capabilities possible is unified communications. With it, innovative stadiums are certain to transform the fan experience and create a more devoted following for their teams.