November 26, 2014

MSR releases ‘State of the Stadium’ technology survey for 2014

SOS14_thumbWe cover a lot of news about stadium Wi-Fi and DAS deployments, but how many venues out there in the real world actually have such systems deployed? How are their fans using it? And what about other types of stadium-specific technology, like digital signage, social media and CRM systems? How are teams, schools and stadium owner/operators really using technology to improve the fan experience while also improving their business bottom line?

For the second straight year, we asked those questions and more and bring you the answers in our State of the Stadium Technology Survey for 2014, available for free download. Like last year’s inaugural survey, this year’s takes a look at deployments of Wi-Fi and DAS, of digital signage and CRM, and social media campaigns. It is the only numerical survey of this market that we know of, and with more than 70 respondents across all U.S. pro leagues, major colleges and other venues like race tracks and golf courses, we think it represents a pretty good snapshot of where technology deployment stands right now.

What did we find out this year? Mainly that on the wireless side, DAS deployments are far outpacing Wi-Fi, with 71.4 percent of respondents claiming a full-facility DAS, while just 35.7 percent said their facility had full fan-facing Wi-Fi. Our analysis of this situation is pretty clear as to why — with carriers willing to foot the bill for DAS, it’s no surprise that advanced cellular is ahead of Wi-Fi and in some cases is the only advanced wireless system in a stadium.

There’s more good stuff in the survey that we’ll break out over time, but for now why not just download the report and read through it yourself. We’d like to thank report sponsor SOLiD for enabling the free distribution of the survey results, and we’d also like to thank our partner the SEAT Conference, who once again helped us find willing participants to share their deployment statistics. SEAT conference attendees, of course, have had access to the survey since the most recent SEAT event in July; if you want early access to our survey results next year, just sign up for SEAT 2015 in San Francisco — which is already shaping up as an incredible event.

Mobile Data Consumption Set to Explode- Will Sports Cash in?

A recent report is highlighting the massive growth that is expected in mobile data consumption as users of smartphones increasingly use their devices for watching video, playing games, interacting with a variety of social media and other uses.

According a report from Informa Telecoms & Media, by the year 2016 mobile users will consume eight times more social media than currently, downloading 14 times as many megabytes of applications and browsing will increase six fold.

The two driving factors will be the increased use of smartphones, which currently are roughly half the handsets sold and the increase in overall mobile users. Not listed in the report but most likely also a driving factor is faster networks.

This presents a major opportunity not only for sports teams and leagues but also for the growing ecosystem of app developers involved in this space, from office league sponsored developments such as MLB At Bat 12 to sports aggregation news readers such as Recapp. With smartphones increasing in storage capacity app developers can also make larger, fuller featured products to grab users attention.

Currently mobile users can get access to a growing number of live sporting events including a wide range of college football, Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League and Soccer matches are all available, however they are often limited to a single carrier of you need to subscribe to the correct cable network.

If sports continue this path it seems that they will be missing out on a larger opportunity. It is nice that Verizon has hockey, but I don’t have Verizon. If I want NFL and hockey do I need two phones? To really cash in the leagues will need to come up with something other than exclusive deals with a single carrier, otherwise they are intentionally missing a huge segment of the market.

ESPN Gameday Contest Draws Fan Interest — Maybe Too Much Interest?

Any but the most casual college football fan has seen the throngs at the ESPN College Gameday sets, with fans in the background hoisting all sorts of signs, occasionally ones that are risqué or outright rude, and during the course of the week we see lots of ads for the program.

Now fans can influence where the ads will be shot in a clever little contest that ESPN and Facebook are hosting that enables fans to vote once a day for their school of choice. The winning school will have a Gameday ad shot on campus and it will include students from that school.There are a total of 120 schools involved and you can vote over at Facebook or ESPN GamedayVote.

I really like the contest on a number of levels. It should generate a great deal of attention between rival schools and rival contests. A quick look at some of the blogs out there already have battle cries that call for votes or else.

For ESPN it just brings additional attention to its football programming, and at a time that it is not usually on the minds of fans. It seems to have already taken off since the ESPN Vote page, and the Facebook one, as of this writing, has been overwhelmed and are down while it verifies the votes. I suspect that it will just get busier before this is all over.

The one flaw seems to be that the powers that be underestimated the popularity of the program. Looking at some of the posts on the Facebook page I noticed both accusations of cheating and complaints that votes were credited to the wrong team. I have to say that if I was in school and knew a hacker I might be so inclined to see if I could ‘rock the vote.’

I would really love to know where the votes are coming from, not in terms of schools and conferences, but are more voters coming from the Facebook page or the ESPN site? ESPN’s Facebook page has one million followers and so can be a tremendous force in this contest.

PlayUp Releases Version 2.0 of Fan-Interaction App

PlayUp has released version 2.0 of its fan-based social networking app, with improved navigation and “Live Now” scoreboards for individual sports.

PlayUp, which has signed several exclusive deals with college conferences and schools this year and also hosted NFL players for exclusive online chats during the Super Bowl, said the new features available immediately include:

– The ability to choose your favorite leagues to easily see live scores, stats and hangouts for the sports you care about most
– “Live Now” scoreboards by individual sports
– An enhanced interface with bigger and brighter graphics
– Improved navigation and user experience including faster load times, better calendars, and quicker access to live updates
– Enhanced Facebook and Twitter integration
– The ability to receive notification alerts when fans add you as a friend or when you are invited to a game
– The ability to message easily across multiple rooms with “Recent Hangouts” for the latest action you and your friends have been following

Screen shots of the new version of the app are below. Click here to download the PlayUp app.

Sunday Sermon: Bleacher Report’s Team Stream Shows Us How to Share Content

I have seen the immediate future of sports content sharing, and if it’s not the ultimate winner than Bleacher Report’s Team Stream feature will be something others will quickly copy. The main reason why I think it will be so successful? The best part of Team Stream is B/R’s willingness to embrace content that isn’t solely its own, to better serve the fans. That sharing attitude is going to make Team Stream a go-to feature that may eventually be more popular than any single site’s collection of reporters and columnists.

If you haven’t seen Team Stream yet, just go to the B/R site and set up a “stream” for yourself. It works either online, in an email newsletter, and most importantly, on mobile devices. The basic premise is, B/R’s team of web-watching editors sifts through everything that is out there and sends you a bundle of content centered around the teams or sports you are most interested in. The key is that unlike other media outlets, some of whom won’t link or mention competitors, B/R provides links to anyone and everyone, from major content creators to bloggers and tweeters. That’s the secret sauce that will make Team Stream taste great.

A screen grab of a Bleacher Report Team Stream newsletter on golf.

My blogging mentor, Om Malik, had one big rule for creating content — don’t waste the reader’s time. Team Stream embodies that ideal perfectly. Instead of me having to maintain links to multiple web sites, follow multiple people on Twitter, I can just “stream” the best stuff for my teams and save myself a lot of hunting time. And after visiting the B/R offices last week to see their energetic, massive bench of editors engaged in finding the best content out there I’m pretty confident that they’re going to serve up enough good stuff every day on my teams and topics to keep me from needing to go everywhere else.

So far I’ve been following the Chicago Bulls and Golf Team Streams as a test, and I can say right off the bat the golf one is a champ. Today’s newsletter, for example, gives me links to stories from Bleacher Report itself, but also from Yahoo Sports, from PGA.com, from Golf.com and from the AP — a much better mix than any traditional newspaper or sports site, which primarily include content only from their own staffs or partner “wire services” like AP. And I haven’t yet tried the new iPad version of Team Stream but I can only guess that the bigger screen size will make activities like watching video replays just that much easier.

Keep your eye on Team Stream, and see how many folks try to copy what Bleacher Report is doing. The power of sharing and smart editing is a winning combination.

Twitter Shows Boost for @keselowski During Daytona 500 Fire-Tweet

How many Twitter followers did Brad Keselowski, aka @keselowski, gain during his on-track tweeting from the Daytona 500, when the track-drying truck fire caused a two-hour delay? The folks at Twitter put out a handy graphic to show the meteoric rise, when he added more than 100,000 new followers before the checkered flag was waved:

That’s what viral is all about. Anyone else doubting that Twitter spreads like wildfire? Or that it is the way sports personalities will “talk” to their fans going forward?