Superbowl XLIX and the Future of Sports Fan Engagement
In this Superbowl climate, what are companies doing to capture the imagination of traditional fans, early adopters, and everyone in-between?
Sports fans are a highly tiered community with varying levels of interest in deepening engagement and intimacy with their team. With Superbowl XLIX inching closer (every inch in football counts, after all), our researchers took a deep-dive into some of the most exciting innovations and behavioral rituals working to shape the future of sports, particularly during everyone’s favorite cultural happening: the Superbowl.
The State of Fan Engagement Today
Many believe in going the incremental mile to bring fans closer to the game and the players they root for; that seems to be a central idea in determining the future of fan engagement.
While “traditional” fans will enjoy watching their sports with a beverage and friends, a substantial group seems to be interested in upping their experiences to the next level by–for example–playing fantasy football on their mobile device (a $70 billion industry). Or, by tweeting their commentary, or arranging for an entire day’s worth of pre-gaming through unique opportunities like NBC’s Super Stream Sunday, which was developed to provide a first taste to their “TV Everywhere” product.
This is really the tip of the iceberg and much more is being done to satisfy fans insatiable appetites.
Players Shaping the Future of Fan Engagement
Some companies solve for very practical problems (e.g. SportChaser helps fans find the ideal setting to watch sports games). Others are looking to provide more memorable, exciting experiences.
Great examples can found in the category of wearables designed for fans like Foxtel’s Alert Shirt, which enables fans to experience the sensations of their favorite athlete during a game, wherever they happen to be.
Other examples that are more venue-driven are Statefarm’s ‘Fan Cave’ in-stadium event which afforded fans the chance to watch the game on Oculus Rift or the NYC bars that curate music to play during ads to keep up fan energy by reinforcing their sentiments with handpicked popular songs.
These are all superb indicators of innovative ideas that will continue to up the bar.
Fans Will Increasingly Demand Reality-Enhancing Experiences
A quote by the SVP of Jacksonville Jaguars’ Fan Engagement supports the validity and importance of how immersion, not just VR, will be important beyond the living room:
This is another example of the kind of in-stadium innovation we are bringing to the game day experience that we want to make available for our fans… Not only can fans be on site to enjoy the atmosphere, they can utilize offerings like this Virtual Reality based technology to experience the game in a totally new way.
Other examples with significant implications for the Superbowl experience can be found in other major sporting events like the X Games, NASCAR, or World Cup.
For example, DJI Phantom 2 is preparing to provide drones controllable views as drones become increasingly more consumer facing. The Federal Aviation Administration has already begun working with external groups to approve the operation of drones in national airspace. ESPN plans to incorporate drones into their coverage of X Games.
Another great example is GoalControl, a 4D technology company focusing on complex image analysis to support referees and provide the public with a tedious breakdown in the face of controversial in-field decisions.
Deepening the sense of being there has been a mandate for a long time when it comes to what fans want. As more technologies converge, companies will continue to enhance fan immersion through new, fresh ideas that reframe how we experience major sporting events.
Lead image: BorgQueen // Public Domain