Tag Archive | "Digital"

New club app from Football League the answer to match-day internet access?


Last year a project called Digital Stadium was being tested in a collaboration between the University of Sussex, Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Corridor Design which looked at how modern smartphone apps can be used to build new ways of communicating within stadiums.

Currently the ideal of making stadiums ‘fully connected’ comes at a huge expense. Only the likes of Manchester City, Celtic, Rangers, Liverpool (in one stand) and other teams in the US and Europe have invested in such projects which can cost £1m+. With many stadiums starting the creak with age its not something as easy as many might think to set up.

So for clubs in the Football League it presents many problems. With many spending more than they bring in on players in a bid to hit the heights of the Premier League, they just don’t have the resources to invest in projects such as stadium connectivity. It’s not that they don’t want to better engage with fans and give them an enhanced experience – which is becoming a must – it’s just down to resource.

But where there is a scarcity there often comes innovation. And this is the problem in which the Digital Stadium project has looked to become the ultimate solution. The benefits for clubs are obvious; better customer experience, food/ticketing offerings, expanded sponsorship options, use of player/match data to enhance the match day experience, in play betting, etc.

But the high numbers of people in a small space, all of whom now expect to be able to get online whenever they want to, has led to many problems in nailing the solution. Dr Ian Wakeman, founder of the company behind the app, told theengineer.co.uk:

“Typically when you go to a football match you’re in a crowd of 30,000 people and those people are all contesting for the available basestation bandwidth. Most people can’t get a connection and you have a really bad experience on your mobile phone. TribeHive uses software rather than hardware to build a network directly between all of the mobile phones running the app and shares the connectivity you can get to pull down updates.”

The initial prototype Android apps were first deployed in April 2013 to 100 volunteer season ticket holders at Brighton, and were refined over a number of iterations till the underlying networking technology was robust, and was deployed stadium wide on the Play Store from September 2013.  The Apple iOS version soon followed.

The app provides services the fans want, from live scores, match statistics, league tables, fixtures and results, through to news and player profiles.  Live rail and bus information eases the journey of fans into and out of the stadium, whilst the ability to see both club and personal Twitter timelines, and to post Tweets whilst at the match increased the club’s social media profile.

For the club, a scrolling ticker at the bottom of the app delivered customisable messages to the fans, allowing the club to deliver messages appropriate to the match, such as beer discounts after the match.  The app delivered detailed analytics of what fans looked at, all accessible through a customised web console.

Technically, the app demonstrated that the DTN technology could increase the apparent connectivity by over 50%, particularly at key times, such as pre-match, half-time and immediately post-match. The feedback from the fans was that the app was a great success, proving the acceptability of this space-age technology to football fans.

An expanded version of the app is now being trialled by six clubs – QPR, Birmingham City, Bolton, Brighton & Hove Albion, Middlesbrough and Watford. It looks on the face of it to be a normal club app that brings together latest club news, results, live scores, etc. But there is more to it than that. The Software developed by TribeHive (the business spun out from the Digital Stadium project and run by Dr Ian Wakeman) improves connectivity in the stadium by building a network directly between smartphones and sharing updates to the app.

ciaran         CurrentMatch

So for both clubs and the fan attending games this solution could be a godsend to them. At April’s Manchester event we spoke with Everton’s Scott McLeod said that they had looked at most of the Wi-Fi options for Goodison Park without finding a solution that he felt suited their needs and budget. Something like this could be a perfect fit.

So what does the future hold for the technology and for TribeHive? Dr Ian Wakeman told us;

Our aim in building the HiveCore technology is to provide a usable digital channel for all, using cheap software rather than expensive hardware.  As football fans, we care a lot about both improving the stadium experience and keeping tickets affordable, and we believe that the HiveCore technology is a step in the right direction.

If you’re a Brighton fan we’d love to hear about your experience of using the app. If you’re one of the new teams announced, what do you think about the idea?

 

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FIFA Digital at the 2014 FIFA #WorldCup Brazil


It’s now less than a week until the 2014 World Cup starts in Brazil, as long as the stadiums are ready of course. The excitement you can feel has been building with the pre-WC friendly matches well underway and Panini stickers being swapped at a furious rate.

Last week I took a look at what a few of the brands had been doing in the build up to the world’s second biggest tournament (only the Olympics outdoes it in terms of audience). So this time I’m going to look at what FIFA itself has been doing when it comes to digital.

The primary destinations for fans will be FIFA.com, m.fifa.com (the newly revamped app which has encountered some issues), Facebook and Twitter. No big surprises with the social channels chosen, so no place for the likes of Google+, YouTube or WhatsApp at the moment – concentrating on doing a few well is always better than doing too much just for the sake of it.

The video content is being housed on FIFA.com as they look to keep their quality content on an area they have most control and also links to their sponsors and other digital platforms. This is also true with the Live Blog from Brazil, with a key element being the embedding of tweets and Facebook posts from fans, stakeholders, media and key influencers. Live blogging is something we’ve seen grow massively with the European Tour, Man City, Premier League and many others taking advantage of it.

The big new activation for FIFA is ‘Global Stadium’, a concept we covered here only a few days ago when it was launched.  Their aim is to unite fans from around the world and capture the excitement and spirit of the World Cup. Fans can #JoinIn and are able to;

  • Follow the match through the Live Blog and stats
  • See social posts from players, coaches and celebrities and interact with their own friend’s posts
  • Discuss the game as it happens with a worldwide audience
  • Get involved in a variety of exclusive activities such as winning the actual kick-off ball from that game and voting for their Man of the Match

On Facebook and Twitter they have stated that their core content aims fall under 5 sub-headings; Football, Fans, Facilitation, Fun and FIFA. In simple terms, covering everything on the pitch; engaging fans in fun, interactive contests and asking them to share THEIR content; showcasing some of FIFA’s core programmes and initiatives; and facilitating the journey of fans and media, by providing regular, up-to-date, relevant information.

Facebook

FIFA’s first Facebook page was launched in June 2013 to coincide with the FIFA Confederations Cup. Twelve pages are now live, with the FIFA World Cup page now having over 19 million fans worldwide. The content is image driven. Photos, videos, trivia questions, exclusive interviews, fan promotions in the FIFA online store, news on the launch of ticket sales phases, and the promotion of fun fan games, such as
the Online Panini album aim to provide a variety of content.

FIFA’s extensive archive also enables us to take a look back at the stars of the past. Working together with FIFA’s Partners, they are also able to tell the story of unique opportunities provided at every FIFA competition, for example, through the FIFA Youth Programme, for children to get a birds-eye view, by being a player escort or being part of the ball crew.

In April 2014, eight out of the ten fastest-growing sports pages on Facebook belonged to FIFA, and at the beginning of May 2014, FIFA merged its two World Cup Facebook pages – one historic; one focused on Brazil 2014, to create one central World Cup hub.

Twitter

FIFA’s presence on Twitter went live in mid-2010. There are accounts for FIFA (@fifacom) and @FIFAWorldCup in six languages, for the FIFA President and the FIFA Secretary General, as well as accounts for the FIFA Media Department (@FIFAMedia) and women’s football (@FIFAWWC).

The platform provides a personal and direct communication channel with fans, media, stakeholders and key influencers. Hashtags are used for FIFA’s tournaments to create discussion topics, regular interactive daily polls/Q&As are posted
to ask fans for their views on the ‘key topics of the day’ and wherever possible, breaking news is posted to ensure FIFA’s authentic message is relayed in real-time.

Overall, there are more than seven million followers across FIFA’s accounts. The platform was used for the official man of the match vote during FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and will once again be utilised for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, in an innovative activation together with Anheuser-Busch & Twitter. Fans will also be able to cast their Man of the Match vote on Twitter, across FIFA’s six @fifacom and six
@fifaworldcup language accounts, while votes will also be counted from FIFA.com too.

Hashtags

FIFA Digital will be using the following hashtags in six languages: #WorldCup, #Joinin, #GlobalStadium while each match will have its own hashtag too.

Monitoring

In order to measure effectiveness and better tailor content to our fans, FIFA utilises a variety of reporting/monitoring tools for real-time analytics. We will also be working together with social media platforms to provide key data, both as part of our daily content, but also to Media through the daily news briefings at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. FIFA Digital will also produce a series of Infographics at key stages of the competition, to provide key digital highlights.

 

 

 

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You Stay Classy, Local Sports Team


By Hash Piperdy. In 32 months as a rugby writer on social media, Hash Piperdy has seen several changes in the way sports and social media collide. He is moving on to join a football organisation in mid-May. You can follow his thoughts at @codenamehash orhttp://passinterference.wordpress.com while he prays for the Jets to one day, win the Superbowl.

One of the most difficult and common things to manage on social media is almost constant abuse. Defeats breed negativity, attracting comments from trolls and fans alike. In a heated situation, you might feel that you can’t write anything without being assaulted by a selection of memes, snarky comments and abuse – want some extra stress? Try and hold a Q&A with one of the players.

And that abuse is from fans, what if other professional outfits join in?

Part of social media 101 is to establish a unique tone of voice, one that is recognisable and cuts through all the other sides that exist in your league, your city, your sport. The LA Kings are one such side that has gone, to paraphrase a wrestling term, full heel.

https://twitter.com/LAKings/statuses/192303694597996544

Talking to other teams, responding back to other fans in a way that is more than “thanks for your tweet” and knifing through a ridiculously crowded sports marketplace and acting as the witty, all-seeing eye sitting next to you in the stands is a fantastic concept, but only a few teams have managed to do this successfully. In a city with (deep breath) the Lakers, Clippers, Galaxy, Angels, Ducks, Dodgers, Trojans and Chivas, ask yourself whether the same style of social would work if they were a bigger team in the same market.

However, going full heel has consequences. Beyond setting yourself and your team up for a fall, you’re going to attract unwanted attention with fans of other sides branding you classless at best and at worst, something unmentionable – even if your reactive posts are accidental.

Tottenham Hotspur attracted significant attention across social media when their official Twitter account posted a (now deleted) Vine about Liverpool’s collapse against Crystal Palace. Whether it was from the wrong account or not, over 5,000 retweets meant that it was very difficult to get the toothpaste back into the tube. Spurs have since apologised and are investigating, but for many, it’s left a mark on their account, which they will have to work hard at removing over the summer.

It’s not just one dimensional abuse that can get you into trouble. I’m a massive stats fiend, and in my previous capacity as Social Media Manager for a rugby tournament, I pointed out that one side were nilled away from home against three of their rivals. My motivation for this was that it was a remarkable stat and one that would get people talking about the team, the league and what that side needed to do to break the slump. I received an email from the powers that be, via the mentioned team, instructing me to remove the tweet.

Despite fighting my corner, I was overruled. I still feel that presented in the right (i.e. not gloating) way, negative stats about one of your sides can act as a spark for conversation while boosting the integrity of the competition, as it shows that the competition isn’t afraid to highlight these things.

America seems to be a bit more open to this. Consider this tweet:

https://twitter.com/MoveTheSticks/status/379647187694534656

This was retweeted over 435 times, including by the @NFL themselves. The Jaguars didn’t seem to have much of an issue with this stat, or that the tweet was broadcast by the league, but they did get involved when the Denver Broncos took a shot at them ahead of their clash:

https://twitter.com/jaguars/status/387229936232058880

I don’t see too much of an issue with this. It’s not a team taking an unnecessary shot at another, but it’s actually quite measured from Denver. The response from the Jaguars is also quite elegant, choosing the high road. This endeared me a little to the Jags, and while they still got beaten, seeing the teams talk to each other on social media was a nice touch, especially in a league which is seen as one of the most intense in the world.

It is possible to be the bad guy on social media when representing a team, but it’s important to use it sparingly and at the right time. As with everything else, judge the room when you walk in, just remember that this room is a lot larger and reactionary than almost any other.

 

 

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Top 5 Takeaways from Digital Sport Manchester


Matt Briggs from The Online Rule has kindly put together his takeaway thoughts from the recent (and first ever) #DSManchester event which took place last Thursday (17th) at TechHub.  A further write up with the presentation slides and a Storify of the day will also be up on the site in the next couple of days…

Manchester got a dose of Digital Sport last Thursday when UK Sports Network brought the event to the North West.

The line-up was one of the strongest yet, with delegates being treated to presentations and discussions involving the likes of BBC Sport, Manchester City, Everton, deltatre, Stream UK, Leeds Rugby and Manchester Metropolitan University.

As you might imagine four hours of digisport chat with such a diverse range of speakers threw up a lot of talking points, too many to be covered in one solitary blog post. Instead I’ve pulled together five of the key takeaways from the afternoon.

Enjoy!

1. The power of stories

Agency or in house, it didn’t matter. Every presenter and panel member at #DSManchester, regardless of their background, talked passionately about the effectiveness of one thing – stories.

The most provocative and engaging content doesn’t just fall out of the heads of marketers and make its way onto our screens, it comes from those people who have tales to tell about the things that make sports fans tick. Our job is to facilitate the telling of these “stories from the stands”.

Nothing quite highlighted how accurate this assertion was like Capsool’s CityStories project, which allows dedicated Blues from across the globe to share their experiences with the club and other supporters. The result is a highly personal and evocative history of the club written by those who have lived it. Good sport is greater than a brand.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of video

Yes, yes, you may be sick of hearing it, after all we have been reminded for years now, but video really is the king of content. As Matthew Quinn of Stream UK pointed out, pictures may paint a thousand words but according to Forrester Research one minute of video is worth 1.8 million!

That’s not all. A good video can increase the likelihood that your site will find itself on the first page of Google by 53 per cent as well as double the length of time users spend on your website. Have you got a product to sell? A video of it makes users 144 per cent more likely to add it to the cart.

It’s lucky for us that sport makes great video. How clubs go about leveraging that and distributing the content is another discussion entirely.

british cycling

3. Mobile first? No, mobile equal

“Mobile first” is one of those phrases that has been drilled into the skulls of anyone involved in digital over the past twelve months. It’s no surprise. The UK mobile market worth £1.03 billion and it’s estimated that mobile use will surpass that of desktop in 2014. Does all this really mean you should neglect the big screen experience at the expense of the smaller one? Mobile experts Scott McLeod, Mike Dunphy and Russell Stopford didn’t think so.

Mobile may be gaining are larger audience share but users are gradually shifting from desktop to mobile, not migrating all at once. Don’t damage the experience of one set of users by opting for mobile first. Instead aim for mobile equal. Ensure that the content, interaction and experience remains the same regardless of where or how they are visiting your site. Make your message consistent across all platforms.

4. Know your audience

British Cycling decided to set up their Go Sky Ride community because they knew their audience wasn’t just made up of hardcore cycling buffs, but casual riders too. This basic awareness of how diverse the cycling community in Britain is has since set the tone for the governing body’s relationship management.

British Cycling understood that information gathering exercise shouldn’t just stop at understanding the obvious differences between stakeholders. Knowing who and what their audience likes has allowed them to make educated decisions about who should front the next campaign and when it should be launched. As Susan Tranter said: “getting to know your audience is not a waste of time”.

Identifying how, why and when users consume content can’t guarantee success, but it can certainly give you a fighting chance.

5. Fighting the churn

Leeds Rhinos lose the most followers on Twitter on a match day. Conversely it’s also the time of week they gain the most followers.

Why the churn? Existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter simply aren’t designed to accommodate the sheer volume of posts that a match can bring. The result is a one size fits all approach, where clubs are using networks that aren’t built for in-depth commentary out of fear that if they don’t provide that service some fans will look elsewhere. Unfortunately it’s a tactic that also brings overexposure and turns off some supporters off.

There is no hard or fast way to end the high turnover of followers, but one way to combat it is to ensure that you’re creating stellar content elsewhere. According to Phil Daly the Rhinos use social media to give fans 360 degree access to the club: “where a security guard stops you on match day, we let you in”.

Be unique. Clubs can offer a huge amount of exclusive material to supporters. Even those that may not appreciate having their feeds full of blow by blow accounts of every single match they will appreciate that behind the scenes snap of the players celebrating a famous victory.

digital sport manchester

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3 (great) reasons to head to Digital Sport Manchester next week


Next week is a big week for us here at UK Sports Network. After heading up to Glasgow last month for our first ever event up there, we’re now going to be doing the same in Manchester.

“But why should I go” I hear you say. Well I believe there are 3 main reasons that you should head along, not even counting that we’re the only community that’s been set up solely for those who work within digital media for sports teams, federations, agencies and tech companies.

Reason 1

The line up of speakers I think is our best yet and we’re cramming a lot into half a day.  Not only do we have presentations from the likes of British Cycling, Manchester Metropolitan University, deltatre, Stream UK and Capsool but also panels made up of digital people from Leeds Rugby, BBC Sport, Everton FC, Man City FC and PERFORM.

We’ll be covering topics that are both general and specific, giving a fantastic look into what is both happening with within digital sport and what we is coming around the corner soon. There are talk titles such as; “Digital in Sport: Disrupting and levelling the playing field“, “Not just racing but riding: how British Cycling is building communities of real cycling fans, and real cyclists“, “The Digital Paralympics, from London to Sochi” and “CityStories: The Social History of Manchester City Football Club“.

Reason 2 (and 2 1/2)

We like to do things a little differently here than most events organisers (who wants to do the same thing all the time eh?). So instead of booking a sports venue or hotel, we’re going to be heading to TechHub Manchester. A shared working space and community for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, something we see ourselves as being.

This type of venue provides for a more stimulating and relaxed atmosphere for the event. Being part of this vibrant community even for only half a day will hopefully help provide an environment that is both inspiring and fun to be part of.

Not only will you get all this when you come along but we’ve also been working on something to present ourselves. At the start of day I’ll be showcasing our new website, built with the great guys at Storystream who will also be in the crowd,  that will eventually take over from the current UK Sports Network site. It’s not only a new site but a new name and a new brand. Exciting times!

Reason 3

Another big reason people head to these events is to meet and chat with other people in the industry. So if this is your aim for heading along then you can expect to find people from;

  • IBM
  • Amaze
  • Kwangl
  • BR101 Sports
  • European Handball Federation
  • Manchester Futsal Club
  • Manchester United FC
  • Opta
  • Scarlets Rugby
  • 2ergo
  • Red Bull
  • Sky Sports
  • Prozone Sports
  • Two Circles
  • Intechnology Wifi
  • …. and many more

So if you’re interested in heading along there is still time to pick up a ticket. Prices are £50 + booking fee for standard tickets and £25 + booking fee for students.  You get yours now by heading to…

https://digitalsportmanchester.eventbrite.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you there!

pitchingtechhub

 

 

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Major League Baseball Hits A Home Run with Digital


Guest Post: Charlotte Males is the Founder of Sports Intern UK. She is a firm believer that Digital and Sport have a lot to learn from each other and is excited to see where this partnership can lead. A big fan of US sport, you can contact her at @charliemales.

With a brand new Major League Baseball season underway, comes brand new digital tech for baseball fans. Although traditionally the American pastime has been left behind when it comes to digital enhancements, the 2014 season has changed all that.

Team and league officials have been working hard all pre-season to implement plans to capitalise on all the new technologies coming in this season. The new improvements are set throughout the MLB and range from improving the fan experience at the ball park to potential changing the game forever.

Instant Replay

First up is the introduction of instant replay at the stadium. MLB is joining the like of Tennis, Cricket and Rugby by giving teams the right to challenge an umpire’s call they disagree with.  Like all new has already come with teething problems. But the technology used has undeniably changed the game forever.

All 30 teams in the MLB unanimously voted for the implementation of the instant-replay system and all 30 ballparks have used standardised technology. The MLB have ensured that the same 12 camera angels will be available for the replay officials.  All instant replied reviews will come from a command centre in New York, where there are 12 screens lining the back wall with live feeds from every MLB ballpark.

iBeacon

The most exciting addition to the 2014 Major League Baseball season is the implementation of Apple’s iBeacon technology. The iBeacon technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate with iPhones’ by expanding location services in iOS. Basically, it’s an extremely useful marketing tool that lets apps know when a fan has approached or leave the presence of an iBeacon.

The iBeacon is available on all iPhones’ with iOS 7 installed. In order to use this technology fans need to be using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark iOS app. The app already allows fans to access electronically, and with the use of iBeacon, ballpark goers will be able to receive directions to their phones about which gate to use and how to get to their seats. Although the app is available on both Android and iOS devices, only those will Apple devices will benefit from the bespoke iBeacon experience.

Through the use of iBeacon, the potential uses of the technology will be up to the MLB teams. However, one example of what fans can expect are being sent discounts on concession, sales and shopping items when you walk into the team shop.

ibeacon

Currently, the MLB league officials are directing clubs on where teams can implement the technology and what can and cannot be sent to fans. As for now, fans receive a welcome message when they check in (think of Foursquare), and maybe an offer to upgrade their seat or some discounts on concessions.  However, there is an expectation that the MLB will let team become more creative with the technology once the iBeacon has proved useful to fans.

For the San Francisco Giants, the technology is just another way to better engage with fans. “Mobile and digital experiences are paramount to our fan experience,” according to Chief Information Officer, Bill Schlough. The Giants have long been the most technologically progressive teams in baseball and even other sports clubs.

During the early 2000s, Giant’s fans first enjoyed in-stadium mobile phone coverage. And in 2004 the MLB club became the first in professional sports history to turn its stadium into a complete WiFi hotspot. Currently, there are 1,289 WiFi antennas covering the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park with connectivity that’s good enough to stream video to thousands of fans.

 

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New Digital Platform for the 2014 RBS 6 Nations


When the RBS 6 Nations kicks off for the start of the 2014 Championship this weekend, they will be doing so on a brand new digital platform. The new platform, available in English, French and Italian, includes dynamic web and mobile sites, a Virtual Press Office, Digital Media Guide and Judiciary Platform. RBS6Nations.com

Digital Sports Agency Sotic worked with the Six Nations Committee and its related stakeholders to design and build an innovative digital platform using the latest technology ensuring the ultimate user experience for those following the action.

When ‘Rugby’s Greatest Championship’ kicks off, the website will follow the on-field action with live match coverage of all the games, in-game statistics, live images and commentary in close partnership with the official statistic provider, Opta. The site offers a wealth of historical statistics from the competition, as well as embedded YouTube video highlights from present and past fixtures.

Complementing the website is the mobile friendly platform accessible from any smart phone or tablet. The content during matches focuses on the live action, defaulting the fans’ view to the match centre for instant updates on all the fixtures. Last year, over 51% of all site visits came from a mobile or tablet device.

The media have their own dedicated Virtual Press Office from where they can access the new Digital Media Guide. Dynamically updated after each g­­­­­ame, the guide displays content for journalists and broadcasters even when they are offline, unlike web pages.

“We are delighted with the new digital solution. We have an online presence that is as dynamic and expansive as the Championship itself and we hope that all fans enjoy the online experience we are delivering for them.” – Shane Whelan, Head of Digital @ Six Nations Committee

Alongside the main tournament are all the details for the Women’s Six Nations, Under-20 Six Nations, and the Under 18′s competition. Fixtures, results, squads, history and statistics are all available on the sites and within the Digital Media Guide.

The website boasts huge traffic numbers as was evident last year when the tournament was one of the world’s top ten trending sports sites during the 2013 Championship.

To catch the latest RBS 6 Nations news visit http://www.rbs6nations.com

sotic-site-rbs6nations

 

 

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The Case for Networked Stadiums


Guest post: Stewart Mison is owner of Evolve Media Limited, a sports digital consultancy that has created a business solution for the development and management of a Connected Stadium to deliver a 360 degree commercial operation. They employ unique Matchday Software to engage with the fan base; to capture dynamic data which in turn feeds to a CRM programme and delivers an increase in matchday earnings. 

 

We live in the AGE OF NOW – Always On- Always Connected to our choice of smart media. In watching televised sport at home or in a café or bar we can choose second screen viewing information to enhance our enjoyment.  But nothing beats watching sport “live” in the Stadium, however most venues are not digitally enabled and as such it is nigh on impossible to make a phone call, send a text, use email, engage social media, let alone access data and stats on second screens.

Is this really important? The demands of the consumer (in this case the fan) have changed-they want more.  It is easy to identify how provision of these basics digital services can increase fan entertainment, build deeper engagement and enhance earning yield. However the business barrier is that the majority of stadiums were constructed before the advent of digital technology and the capital expenditure to equip a stadium for the 21st Century digital world is seen as prohibitive due to other business priorities, the structuring of Club financial business models and sometimes inelastic business models.

At this point in the debate, let’s set aside the cost issue and focus on what connected stadium can deliver.

  • A football stadium on matchday is a highly charged and emotional sales environment for Merchandise and Concessions. Imagine being able to put a sales message to each fan in a very personal way. Imagine capturing Business Intelligence on these fans and tailoring sales propositions accordingly. Imagine cross tabbing this with season ticket and corporate hospitality. Imagine the huge impact this would have on existing CRM services.
  • As much as increasing the yield from those attending at every home game, there is the wider argument that creating a better “Entertainment Environment” is going to become key in the future. Many in control of sports stadia did not grow up with smart digital technology. But the young fans (the Millennial X-Box generation) want and demand more. They want access to social media sites where they can engage with their mates Before, During and After the match. Failure to plan on servicing these demands is planning to fail in the digital space and risk alienation of the fan base. Once upon a time the fan voted with their feet; now they are vociferous in digital media.
  • We should also spare some thought for the commercial partners of sport. Most are sophisticated multi-national brands, supported by an array of digital marketing techniques that in an area where they are asked to invest millions of pounds, they are unable to create digital activation solutions. Let us not also forget that Betting Companies are partners of many Clubs and direct connectivity to their platforms to provide “In Game” betting opportunities is much in demand in the small handful of forward thinking Stadiums that are connected.
  • All of the above can easily be combined and delivered through a Matchday App which can either be a standalone solution or an SDK style plug in to a Club’s existing Apps. What it must do is take the fan on a journey on matchday – Before – During and After the game, engaging with them through entertainment opportunities and providing the commercial partners with digital activation and marketing platforms.

Addressing these solutions throws up many other questions, not least of which will be which digital service provider to use; wifi v DRS; the operational fit to existing IT infrastructure, human resource and the financial cost.

These are valid concerns and most can easily be answered in a flexible and simple way that in many cases does not require high up front CAPEX. The first step is to agree this is a business need and then commence the dialogue. Once dialogue starts the concerns become workable needs that in turn lead to profitable end solutions.  Of course the Elephant in the Room is how much does this cost?

Cost is subjective in two ways. Firstly it depends on the financial scale of the business looking to install a digital stadium and the second is the Return on Objectives (ROO) – does it do the job it is tasked to do? Likewise the actual CAPEX can take many shapes.  First off, can the savings a digital stadium achieves be used to offset the expenditure? Secondly, as above are the deliverables capable of producing the revenue returns to warrant funding. That said it is recognised that neither of these cover any initial capital outlay. There are a number of funding solutions that can stay off balance sheet (thus working with UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations) but provide full or partial cost cover in exchange for certain commercial rights.

Every digital stadium opportunity has its own set of business dynamics that if football clubs approach with an open mind and without unrealistic values or demands, will quickly deliver better and deeper entertainment and engagement for the fan, cost savings and new income streams.

We are nearly in the second half of the second decade of the 21st Century. Smart Media use is only going to increase as the Millennial Generation matures, younger fans come forward and the luddites are slowly out grown.

 

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Digital Sport Trends 2014


As is becoming traditional within the digital space, it’s time to look ahead to the next year.  Casting our eye forward to what the next 12 months will have in store for an industry that moves at 1000mph.

This year, instead of putting together a post or two with great insights from some of the brightest minds in the industry, we’ve gone one step further.  We’ve put together an ebook containing contributions from 19 digital sports industry insiders.

They cover the whole of the industry; from tech companies to agencies, from federations to teams.  Those involved include;

  • AELTC / Wimbledon
  • Queens Park Rangers
  • Opta
  • AS Roma
  • Seven League
  • London Wasps
  • Team GB
  • Arsenal
  • BT Sport
  • ….and many more

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Will England #Rise to win the Digital Ashes?


Guest Post: Aaron Jaffery (@aaronjaffery) is Managing Director of Digital Sport Consultancy NineteenEightyFour.

A growing public interest in English cricket has undoubtedly risen from the Ashes. The popularity of the sport has increased ever since Michael Vaughn led the side to victory over the seemingly-invincible Aussies back in the Summer Series of 2005, and this is reflected in the burgeoning presence of the English Cricket Board in digital and social media channels. This is not to say that the Australians have been left behind.

What was, in the Nineties, a foregone conclusion has once again become an intense and unpredictable rivalry; although this heightens the entertainment for the neutral spectator, Cricket Australia have had to ensure that their digital strategy keeps a fan-base that is used to victory, engaged in defeat.

Yet while both the English and Australian Cricket Boards have acknowledged the importance of digital engagement, perhaps they have not yet taken full advantage of the marketing opportunities available through social media during the Ashes Series itself.

 

FIRST TEST: WEB PRESENCE

The websites assigned to each Board is impressive in terms of digital performance. Both homepages display an attractive and easy-to-navigate user interface that provides direct access to the corresponding Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of the ECB and Cricket Australia. Unsurprisingly, they offer access to news, photos and video highlights of the current Ashes Series, as well as archival footage and past statistics, and include squad lists, itineraries and broadcasting schedules for both TV and Radio coverage.

What is interesting, however, is that while the ECB focus on the reporting element of the Ashes – the latest news, stats and exclusive interviews, all instantly available through the Ashes Breakfast Email feature – Cricket Australia seem more concerned with the personal side of their national squad and its supporters. The “Meet the Australian Men’s Team” feature is particularly attractive to a cricketing newcomer by creating an individual profile for each player that appears alongside his live Twitter feed. Furthermore, the “Fan Face Off” section of the Cricket Australia website taps into the rivalry of the Ashes by measuring the digital presence of both national cricketing Boards.

This is achieved through a direct comparison of social media statistics, in a bid to increase fans’ online engagement with their national side. While the ECB’s website demonstrates a greater endeavour to improve the accessibility of the Ashes for what seems to be an established fan-base, Cricket Australia appear to be more aware of the need to expand their digital outreach to include the more inexperienced cricketing supporter.

FIRST TEST: AUSTRALIA WIN (1-0)

 

SECOND & THIRD TESTS: SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE (Cricket Boards and Teams)

So who is winning the battle of the fans in the social media sphere? Cricket Australia boasts an impressive 2,061,280 likes on Facebook; making the ECB’s 764,970 likes somewhat disappointing in comparison. However, the English fan-base on Facebook is largely divided between the ECB and Official England Cricket, which amasses a further 766,337 likes, making the total a more acceptable 1,531,307 with the two pages combined. Twitter is a closer affair, although the ECB still trails with 225,220 followers compared to Cricket Australia’s 262,105. Content is mostly similar, and so this close encounter can be considered a draw.

However, the popularity of individual players on Twitter seems more favourable for the English. Kevin Pietersen, the most-followed cricketer in either Ashes squad, is followed by 1,457,787 fans: more than double that of Aussie captain Michael Clarke, with only 616,201.On average, the English professional cricketer tweets more regularly than the Australian and, noticeably, with more personality. Clarke, Ryan Harris and James Faulkner limit their tweets to publicise infrequent news updates or advertisements; Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and James Anderson offer personal anecdotes, amusing photos via Instagram, and inter-Tweet sarcasm, that is often directly associated with the Ashes and is appreciated by their online fans.

Somewhat astonishingly, many of the Australian squad do not even have Twitter accounts at all and those that do are outnumbered by the amount of parody accounts set up by fans. The absence of Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Chris Rodgers, George Bailey and Peter Siddle from the social media channel signals the vast potential for increased digital outreach that is still to be exploited by Cricket Australia.

SECOND TEST – BOARD SOCIAL MEDIA: DRAW (Australia 1-0)

THIRD TEST – TEAM SOCIAL MEDIA: ENGLAND WIN (1-1)

 

FOURTH TEST: FAN CAMPAIGNS

Yet it is Twitter that seems to be the chief medium through which both cricketing Boards have chosen to focus their digital campaigns. Both teams have a trending phrase – ECB continue with #RISE from the Summer Series, #uniteaus is selected for Cricket Australia – that successfully unifies the digital cricketing fan community and that is subsumed by the internationally-trending #Ashes. What is more, Twitter seems to be the first choice for developing fan engagement with the two Boards. ECB have allied themselves with Twelfth Man, the official fan community of English cricket, and have launched the competition Twelfie Selfie.

This encourages fans to upload a photo of themselves supporting the English cricket team during the Winter Ashes using the Hashtag #TwelfieSelfie to either Twitter or Instagram, where the winner will entertain Mathew Hoggard in their own home to watch the second Ashes Test on the 6th December. Australia’s corresponding campaign is in commercial partnership with KFC, who have altered the colours of their logo design to green and gold because, because “England’s colours are red and white”.

They promote an online quiz of quick-fire questions, where one wrong answer leads to disqualification, but success could lead to the major prize of $5000. However, while this is included within the renowned KFC #bucketheads trend on Twitter, the specific hashtag for the competition, #KFCgreenandgold, tends to get lost amid the online support for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers who also lay claim to the hashtag #greenandgold.

The ECB’s engagement strategy seems to be have the potential for greater success. Because it mainly uses Twitter the campaign is better advertised and accessible than its Australian counterpart, which is primarily accessed through the Cricket Australia website. Moreover, there is nothing to limit the participants in Twelfie Selfie competition: anyone can upload a photo. Cricket Australia’s KFC quiz, on the other hand, is reliant on a certain degree of cricketing knowledge and thus excludes newly-recruited fans.

FOUTH TEST WINNER: ENGLAND (2-1)

 

FIFTH TEST: SERIES COVERAGE

The most important consideration with regards to fan engagement during the Ashes, however, is undoubtedly how to provide digital coverage of the Series: particularly for those fans on the other side of the world to where the matches take place. In this Winter Series that is the English, and the ECB have striven to report the events of each Test in greater detail than previous years. Not only is the whole Series televised live on Sky Sports 2, but, in response to the station’s highest ever outreach to listening audiences, Radio 5 Live now provide around-the-clock coverage of the Ashes.

Sky Sports have also launched the Ashes Event Centre PC and iPad app, alongside the ECB Cricket app for both iPhone and Android, and the ECB website provides access to a number of RSS feeds as well as their own Audioboo channel for further audio coverage. In many ways, the time difference has actually enhanced the ECB’s strategy for an increased digital presence, as it means that fans are reliant upon social media and mobile applications for a regular engagement with the Ashes when live television coverage becomes inconvenient.

Because we’re based in the UK its difficult to a certain the true extent of Australian coverage. So, with England building an unassailable lead with a diverse range of tools, bad light stops play and the test is declared a draw.

FIFTH TEST: DRAW – ENGLAND WIN THE SERIES 2-1

 

What is apparent from looking at the digital strategies of both the ECB and Cricket Australia is that they are largely comparable. In terms of statistics, there is not a lot that separates them in the popularity of their social media channels, and the user-interface of both websites are similar in their navigational simplicity and attractive display. Yet on the occasion where their campaigns can be distinguished from one another, it is always down to one Board conveying a greater sense of personality than the other.

This explains why the English players boast far more Twitter followers then their Australian rivals and, similarly, why the Cricket Australia website demonstrates a greater sense of accessibility to the inexperienced cricket fan than that of the ECB. It is primarily this sense of digital personality that can be further developed by each cricketing Board in the design of their online channels to capitalise their turnover during future series of the Ashes.

 

Posted in cricket, Digital, Social Media, SportComments (0)

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