Live Sports v. the Living Room: Some Advice for a Meaningful Stadium Experience

Tonight I was a guest on Sirius NASCAR Radio ch.128/XM 128 after being quoted in this USA Today article on how technology is impacting sporting event attendance and ultimately the future of live sports viewing. Along this vein I wanted to offer some additional insights on how to create a meaningful live sporting event experience for attendees.

  1. Sports fans and technology go hand-in-hand. Recent CEA research finds more than half (53%) of consumers who consider themselves high level sports fans also consider themselves early adopters of technology. This relationship has the potential to fundamentally impact sports viewing in the years to come. Those most interested in watching sports are also most technologically inclined. This suggests sports fan will only want greater integration of technology. Moreover, they will likely want to leverage the newest technologies. To take advantage of this trend teams should look at neutral offerings that allow fans to customize their experience with the newest technologies. For example, teams could offer web services that fans can access from a myriad of different devices.
  2. Create a differentiated experience. The same research study referenced above finds sports fans prefer watching sports in HD over viewing the event live. More sports fans (48%) prefer to watch TV broadcast of live events in high-definition over attending the same event in person (10%). But this doesn’t have to be looked at in bad light. Sports leagues and teams can use this to their advantage in creating a meaningful live experience. As the USA Today article highlighted, “When the NFL kicks off the 2010 season next week, about 1 million fans will turn out to watch games in stadiums across the nation. And in their living rooms, an average of 16 million fans will gather to watch each of the 16 opening-weekend games in what has become the golden age for NFL consumption.” There will always be more fans engaged outside of the venue. Teams should look to create a differentiated experience as opposed to trying to compete with in-home viewing. Use technology to make the live experience better. This can include a myriad of services and offerings that are just now rolling out and some that aren’t widely available including ordering food, replays on-demand, or access to additional and exclusive video footage to name a few.
  3. Technology enables personalization. Some will argue technology runs the risk of overwhelming the end-user. How can the attendee fully enjoy the live sporting event when they are overwhelmed by devices? The key to technology is that it is highly customizable. This ensures sports fans can bring in as much or as little technology as they want to enrich their experience.
  4. Whatever the current limitations, technology will improve. Whatever the current limitations of technology it will improve. Processing power will prove, bandwidth will increase. Video will be a key equalizer and an important differentiator for in-stadium viewing on mobile devices and this experience will improve with technology. Don’t write-off possible services now simply because the infrastructure isn’t yet perfected.