I’m not a hardcore sports fan but I do jump on the bandwagon when a local favourite team is successful. Case in point is the most recent success of the Toronto Blue Jays making the MLB play-offs. You can be darn sure that the ownership group for the Blue Jays were happy to see their team go beyond the regular season. From the sale of play-off tickets, merchandise and concessions, this all drives fan engagement and you got it, dollars and cents.
Let’s face it, fan engagement has a huge impact on the bottom line. And it seems that our infatuation with our smartphones means we are no longer a captive audience, even at sporting events. A great example of this is the recent story of a group of Arizona sorority sisters attending a Diamondback MBL game and they were all preoccupied with taking selfies rather than watching the game.
Sports franchises and venues are taking this serious. Stadiums such as the Levi Stadium in San Francisco, have their own app to provide fans with efficiencies managing their electronic tickets, parking passes, way finding and even ordering your food and bevies while sitting in our seat. On the team side, many of the franchises pump their free app downloads for fans to engage with live scores/stats, video on demand, post game highlights, and customized game alerts. Both of these app solutions, while they are not new, do add to a more positive fan experience.
IBM is now taking this technology interaction to the next level with their IBM Analytics Solutions. The Canadian NHL Ottawa Senators will be the first sports franchise to leverage this technology for the 2015-16 season. Essentially through gathering predictive, behavioural and cognitive analytics, the Senators will gain insight on their fans to better plan merchandising/promotions and maximize engagement, on a personal level with each fan. So instead of taking a selfie at the hockey game, you might be engaging your mobile to win a signed autographed stick from your favourite player.
The possibilities are endless. But the challenge will be to find ways to engage fans without interrupting their participation in the event. The marketers that do this will be able to increase fan engagement while at the same time increasing new revenue options.