Millennials continue to be a complexing generation of consumers who advertisers and producers alike struggle to identify with. They are forcing innovation. They want convenience, they want connectivity, they want control and customization, and they want it now. The latest sector racing to catch up to them? Sports.
The New Sports Fan
In the past, when you went to a live sporting event, it had a monopoly on your attention. You focused on it. You lived it. You were in the moment, feeling it and taking it in.
But today’s sports fan is younger, and hyperconnected. They’ve become accustomed to having another world at their fingertips. They may be present, but with a swipe of a finger their attention can be diverted to a thousand other bits of information. And they want to share. They want to show others firsthand how their experience is, and are eager to compare theirs to everyone else’s.
Which is why at some college sporting events in the United States, young fans have reportedly left at halftime when they were unable to connect to internet and upload photos to Instagram or Twitter.
In order to retain the younger consumer, sports teams are realizing not only do they have to give their consumers connections, they have to digitally enhance their experience. With 57% of fans preferring the comfort and connectivity of their homes for watching games, stadiums are being forced to digitally innovating the live experience to attract the Millennial consumer.
Connection is Key
The first innovation needed: free WiFi connection.
To the Millennial, WiFi is a necessity. One in three college students feel WiFi is just as important as air, water, food, and shelter.
Sports stadiums are recognizing the demand. The National Football League (NFL) mandated that all its stadiums should have free WiFi available to spectators by the 2016 season. US football stadiums are spending as much as $6.5 million to provide free WiFi to fans. In Major League Baseball (MLB) 12 of 30 stadiums are offering WiFi, and that number is expected to increase.
Better Experience? There’s an app for that.
Stadiums are also trying to make their experience unique for the fans. To do so, many sports stadiums are developing apps enhance the experience.
At Levi’s Center in San Francisco, you’ll have an app to order food from your seat and have it delivered.Want help finding a parking spot? There’s an app for that. Sitting in a nosebleed seat and see an open one way down below? Have no fear, at the Barclays Center in New York (and many other stadiums) there is an app which lets you upgrade seats in the stadium at a discounted rate. In Gillete’s Stadium in Boston, there’s even apps which will tell you which bathrooms have the shortest line.
Extra Digital Dazzle
In addition to the game changing apps, stadiums are throwing in digital adornments wherever they can fit them. Stadiums are introducing ultra high definition screens. They’ve installed touch screen kiosks for fans to use.
One stadium even has cameras installed throughout the stadium which have the capability to capture all of the fans in the stadium at a single moment. They can then use an app to view their picture and see how people around the stadium reacted to a big play.
Will all the digitalization pay off for stadiums? So far, those who have installed high definition screens around the stadium have seen increases in advertising partnerships and revenue. With all the innovation, increases in attendance are sure to follow.
Coming To a Sports Stadium Near You?
Not only American stadiums are racing to digitalize. Connectivity is spreading across Europe. Several stadiums in England have already added free WiFi. Estadio de Santiago Bernabéu offers free WiFi. Maybe in the near future you’ll be comfortably watching your favorite team, having food delivered to you, and enjoying all the amenities the digital world has to offer you.