AT&T: Dems top Republicans for convention wireless data use

There’s an early winner in this year’s election race, at least when it comes to wireless data use: According to AT&T, the Democrats used a total of 5.4 terabytes of data on AT&T networks inside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia during their convention, compared to 2.8 TB used by the Republicans during their convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Do the traffic totals mean anything for governing our country? Most likely not. But the stats are interesting to look at for stadium technology professionals, especially since an event like a political convention is almost guaranteed to dwarf sporting events given the number of people inside the arenas and the length of action each day.

Remember that these statistics only represent AT&T cellular traffic in each arena, meaning that the actual total of wireless data was probably much higher; that’s because both of the stadiums have in-arena Wi-Fi and internal connectivity for other carriers; but we never got confirmation from either arena whether Wi-Fi was turned on or not, and we did not receive any numbers from other carriers. But — even just the AT&T numbers were impressive to study. Consider:

Average traffic: According to AT&T, traffic during Democratic convention days in late July was 387 percent higher than the average game totals during the Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff series with the Washington Capitals in April. The GOP beat sports too, accoring to AT&T, with an average per-day traffic total 250 percent higher than the total reached during Game 6 of the NBA Finals this year.

Total data use: On July 28, the Wells Fargo Center saw 1.5 TB of traffic on the AT&T cellular network — a pretty big total for a building that isn’t a huge football stadium.

Surrounding area data use: Chew on this stat for a bit from AT&T’s press release: “Across the major venues supporting the DNC – including the arena, Philadelphia Convention Center, along the Ben Franklin Parkway and surrounding areas – we saw approximately 64 TB cross our mobile network during the DNC. During the Pope’s visit last September, we saw 12.6 TB cross our network in Philly.”

Again, the Dems crushed the Republicans on this front — according to AT&T, GOP visitors used 9.4 TB of wireless data at surrounding venues during the event, still an interesting mark but far off the Dems’ totals. What this has us wondering here at stadium-stats central is if we should now separate and include related-area numbers… weigh in with your thoughts, please!

Cavs, Budweiser and YinzCam bring virtual reality experiment to Cleveland fans

Fan testing the virtual-reality headset at Quicken Loans Arena. All photos: Cleveland Cavaliers

Fan testing the virtual-reality headset at Quicken Loans Arena. All photos: Cleveland Cavaliers

Approximately 750 fans were able to use the Cleveland Cavaliers’ stadium app and some cardboard headsets to get a virtual-reality experience while at Quicken Loans Arena for Wednesday’s playoff game between the Cavs and the Atlanta Hawks, according to the team.

Since we weren’t at the Q we couldn’t see the videos but according to the Cavs there was some VR content available Wednesday night via the YinzCam-developed team app, which if you were lucky to get one of the 750 promotional headsets that were given away, you could insert your phone and have a true, turn-the-head feel to the VR content, according to the team. Other fans could simply view the VR content on their phones, even without the headsets, the Cavs said.

Though there was no live VR content available, the canned-video experiment is just another leading-edge innovation for the Cavs at Quicken Loans Arena, one of the most technology-forward sports arenas around. According to the team it plans to repeat the VR experiment at some future playoff games, with another 1,500 Budweiser-branded headsets to give away.

Screenshot of Cavs app showing VR content tab

Screenshot of Cavs app showing VR content tab

Cleverly, the headset “easily transforms into a handy Budweiser beer holder,” according to a press release.

“We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our fans by leveraging emerging technologies that deliver unique experiences. VR was a logical next step and an area we’re excited to explore,” said Mike Conley, Cavs VP of Digital, in a prepared statement. “The technology has endless opportunity and thanks to our partnership with Budweiser and Yinzcam, we’ve been able to get a head start in the emerging VR space with the new video content available on the Cavs App.”

No word yet on how well the headsets worked (as viewing devices or beer holders) or how many fans viewed the VR content, but it is at the very least a sign that VR may be closer to mainstream than you think, and that for savvy teams it can be an easy way to add a very visible sponsorship. Oh and by the way the Cavs also destroyed the Hawks 123-98, going up 2-0 in their series.


Here’s what the VR content looked like (kinda) in a 2D version

Tap.in2 seeks more orders in expanding market for stadium in-seat food delivery apps

Screen shot of Tap.in2's Cavs Eats app. (Click on any photo for larger image)

Screen shot of Tap.in2’s Cavs Eats app. (Click on any photo for larger image)

After a successful beta-type trial with the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season, startup Tap.in2 is seeking new customers for its in-seat food and beverage delivery app, which lets sports fans order and receive concessions without having to stand in lines.

Unlike the well-publicized debut of stadium-wide in-seat delivery services offered last year at the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium, the Tap.in2 program at the Cavs’ Quicken Loans Arena flew a bit under the radar and was only offered during the last 22 home games, including the Cavaliers’ home appearances in the NBA Finals. But according to Mike Jacobs, president and co-founder of the Cleveland-based Tap.in2, there are plenty of professional sports franchises interested in adding in-seat concessions delivery to their arenas, and Jacobs is confident Tap.in2 will soon announce some new customers beyond the Cavaliers and beyond the NBA.

Though he didn’t have any names to officially announce, Jacobs held a recent phone interview with MSR while at an airport en route to meeting with a potential (unnamed) new customer. With somewhere north of $575,000 in reported funding, the six full-time employees and six part-timers at Tap.in2 will be competing mainly with Levi’s Stadium app developer VenueNext and its recent $9 million funding round in the new but rapidly expanding market for stadium in-seat food delivery apps. VenueNext, which said it will soon announce as many as 30 new customers, is rumored to be bringing its food-delivery expertise to other NFL stadiums this fall, but so far MSR has been unable to confirm any official deals.

Avoiding the lines

If there’s any app whose potential value needs no explaining to sports fans it’s in-seat delivery, which targets one of the biggest pain points of attending live events: Having to wait in line for concessions. In the recent past many arenas have added delivery services for suites and premium seating areas, usually facilitated by ushers with handheld wireless devices for ordering. But in most venues, the balance of fans still have to queue up for food and beverages, usually missing some game action while doing so. But now, with most big arenas having high-capacity Wi-Fi and DAS networks, the idea is to let fans use their smartphones to order concessions, allowing them to enjoy more of what they came to the stadium for in the first place.

VenueNext screen shot of food ordering feature on app.

VenueNext screen shot of food ordering feature on app.

Tap.in2’s Jacobs said one such story from his game-attending past — a New York Yankees game back in 1993 — planted one seed for the idea that eventually became Tap.in2’s app. At that long ago game Jacobs remembers his father missing three innings of some crucial late-season action merely to obtain a soft pretzel and some hot chocolate. A couple years ago while at college in Berkeley, Jacobs and his roommate Jordan Syms took the idea of eliminating concession line time and ran with it, building the startup that would become Tap.in2, a career path that led them to Cleveland.

As a portfolio company at the startup accelerator called Bizdom started by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Syms and Jacob led their team to deliver an app that would let food and beverages be delivered to Cavs fans — starting very very slowly but then building over time.

“For the first game the service was turned on, we had two seats live,” said Jacobs. The pair of lucky long-time Cavs season ticket holders, he said, racked up seven orders during the inaugural game, providing “good feedback.” After that the service was expanded to cover a single section, then two sections, eventually scaling up to support the entire lower bowl at the 20,562-seat Quicken Loans Arena. According to Jacobs by the end of the season the service was facilitating “hundreds” of orders per game and was already returning some interesting stats, like 80 percent of the orders being beverages and an average spend per order of $32. In addition to food and drinks, the Tap.in2 app also supports the sale of in-game “experiences,” like being able to shoot baskets on the court after the game.

Integration with existing app and services the key

Jacobs said the Tap.in2 technology is designed to be easily integrated with an existing team app, like the NeuLion-built app used by Cavs fans. He also credited food and beverage provider Aramark for having incredibly efficient operations to allow for smooth delivery of orders, a human engineering problem that can sometimes go haywire when scaled up unexpectedly.

Front screen of Cavs Eats app.

Front screen of Cavs Eats app.

If there is any sticking point to the food and beverage delivery services it’s the human engineering side of the equation, mainly guessing how many “runners” will be needed to ensure prompt delivery of orders. Our guess is that unlike Levi’s Stadium, which offers the delivery service to every fan in every seat for NFL games, many stadiums will opt to start with delivery services to smaller sections of fans, like premium seating, until operational issues are fully worked out. (Most will probably have service to more than two seats, however.)

On the technical side, delivery apps need to integrate with back-of-the-house point of sale systems, and must be easy enough for fans to understand and stable enough for fans to trust with sensitive information like credit card numbers. But from industry interviews and reporting, it’s our guess that we will soon see a slew of food-delivery announcements at big pro and college venues this fall, from both VenueNext and possibly some from Tap.in2 as well. (Bypass Mobile, which once offered in-seat delivery via a service called Bypass Lane, appears to have completely switched to providing back-of-the-house POS systems for stadiums and other large public venues.) The trick for both the bigger VenueNext and Tap.in2 will be how well and how quickly they can integrate their delivery functionality with existing apps, something that is never an exact science.