- Venue operators are investing in new systems, applications, and networks
- Oracle says fans now expect the same experience in the stadium as they get at home
Research from tech giant Oracle suggests sports fans are keen for more technology in stadiums and arenas.
According to the survey, fans see innovations such as in-seat ordering and mobile ticketing as key to addressing pain points, as well as bridging the gap with the remote viewing experience.
The study says that although fans still value the atmosphere, excitement and prestige of watching an event at the stadium – as well as being willing to pay a premium to do so – they also want the comfort and convenience of watching at home.
This means frictionless entry, having the same access to social media and second screen applications as they would on the couch, while not having to wait in long queues for concessions.
According to the study, four fifths of fans are unhappy with the waiting in long lines for catering, as many as 57 per cent of fans said they liked the idea of pre-ordering a meal and a third would pay extra if it meant a shorter wait.
Two fifths (42 per cent) would like to use their fingerprint rather than a ticket to enter the stadium and 38 per cent want to be able to access statistics on their mobile phone during an event.
“Stadium visitors want the best of both worlds, they seek the excitement of live in-person viewing but want the experience to feel as convenient as other parts of their life, such as ordering take-out,” said Simon de Montfort Walker, senior vice president and general manager at Oracle Food and Beverage.
“While providing an immersive and seamless journey presents challenges to stadium operators, fans’ increased expectations have also created opportunity to bring innovation and digitalisation into the traditional stadium sphere.”
The study also provided some insight into fan’s views on automation. The perception among respondents was that many pain points were being exacerbated by staff shortages and 70 per cent believed service jobs could be replaced by automation. Indeed, 53 per cent would prefer a self-service digital experience than having to interact with a human.
However, this willingness to embrace robotics and automation does not extend to officials. Most fans either hate or are indifferent to the ideal, although 54 per cent of Chinese fans ‘love’ the idea.
Sports Pro says…
The wider digitisation of society, accelerated by the pandemic, has transformed fan expectations. Many sports organisations and venue operators have already recognised this and invested in their technological infrastructure, eager to get more fans through the gates and to open new sources of revenues.
Modern facilities in the US, such as the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, are leading the way, but venues like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium suggest Europe is catching up. Meanwhile, rights holders are forging partnerships and creating frameworks to facilitate the development of in-stadium applications. The ubiquity of the smartphone and 5G networks will make instant replays and match statistics a reality.
Oracle’s study suggests such investments will pay dividends but not all fans will be as receptive to a trend they might feel devalues the atmosphere. Despite being founded as a works team for electronics manufacturer Philips, fans of PSV Eindhoven protested against the installation of free Wi-Fi at their home stadium in 2014.