For the last 10 years, sports fans have experimented with using their smartphones to improve the sports-watching experience. Smartphones give us access to all the stats we could want – in real time. While watching one game, we can simultaneously track scores for other games. Digital devices give us group texts and direct messaging, allowing friends and family to enjoy games together.
Now, live sports engagement technology will make the fan experience even better.
Fan engagement platforms are building on a decade of experimentation to give sports fans everything they want in a single app. Not only can fans communicate with friends and connect with other spectators worldwide, but they can also interact directly with the games they watch. Fan engagement technology brings people closer to the game. It makes fans active participants.
New Platforms Give Fans a Stake in the Action
Fan engagement apps give users more involvement. Fans can answer trivia questions about the game and the players. They can compete for prizes. In real-time, users get polled on the activity on the field and give their predictions about what will happen next – who will win, what the final score will be, and which players will score.
Will the quarterback run the ball on the next play? Did the referee make the right call? How many more goals will the goalie give up? With fan engagement technology, fans receive opportunities for prizes (coupons, discounts, and merchandise) instantly. If their team scores more than 70 points, maybe they get a free drink. If there is a stolen base, maybe they get a free taco.
With chances to earn real prizes, fans will grow more invested in their teams. Losing means a missed opportunity. Winning is no longer just vicarious. Now fans have a stake in the outcome. Watching a game becomes an interactive experience.
Engagement At the Stadium
Perhaps the most crucial factor in the growing role for digital devices during live events is that these devices make events seamless. From ordering food to presenting your ticket for entry, the mobile device has increasingly become central to the fan experience.
Fan engagement apps make every aspect of in-person games more convenient. By eliminating hassles and wait times, these apps remove friction from the overall experience. By enabling communication between friends within the app, live-engagement apps facilitate meetups at the stadium and allow fans to talk to their friends back home. In-app polls can gauge sentiment in the stadium. This technology makes the smartphone a one-stop shop for in-person spectating.
Engagement At Home
Over the years, technological improvements have brought at-home watchers closer to games. Fan engagement apps will bring them even closer.
Polls, trivia, and prizes are more enticing to fans at home. With plenty of distractions around the house, they lose interest quicker than their friends at the stadium. Which is where live-engagement apps come in.
Some of the best opportunities for these apps are breaks in the action. During time-outs, player changes, team huddles, or rain delays, the second screen can entertain fans and keep them engaged with quizzes. This is truly a game-changer for anyone watching from home. Time-outs and other delays kill the mood. Fans leave the room to grab a snack or even change the channel entirely. Now, when the on-field action slows, prizes, contests, trivia, and in-app games can pick up the slack. Fan engagement technology will keep fans in the game.
Improving Fan Experience with Data Collection
For notoriously slow sports like baseball, this technology can have a real impact. Baseball continues to lose viewership and attendance every year, with a 14% drop in-game attendance from 2018 to 2019. Even player salaries are decreasing. Young people often say baseball is not exciting or even boring.
With the clever use of polls, sports engagement technology lets teams and leagues collect valuable data on fan sentiment. This data will help guide decisions that improve the overall experience. Fan feedback helps teams implement changes that enhance the sport for everyone involved. By asking fans for their input, teams and leagues will ensure those fans feel invested in the sport. In this way, these apps give fans a seat at the table. Their opinions will be heard and respected.
In the future, sports leagues will leverage fan engagement platforms in many ways. One of the more interesting concepts is beta-testing rule changes. If the MLB wants to cap the number of player substitutions per game, they could implement the cap for 14 games, during which they poll viewers to get feedback on the proposed change. If fans like the change, the MLB can make it universal. If it flops, they can forget about it and return to status quo. With fan engagement technology, every league has the chance to gauge fan sentiment and provide fans a channel for feedback on how their favorite sports are played.
Technology has consistently improved the fan experience. Radio and television allowed fans all over the world to follow games they could not attend. High-definition, flat-screen TVs with surround sound made watching at home more like sitting in the stadium. Now, live sports engagement apps offer fans an even better experience, one with heightened immediacy and greater participation. As long as leagues keep their eye on why fans watch – love of the game – they can take full advantage of this new technology.
Watching live sports is no longer a passive activity. Fans at the stadium and at home want a more interactive experience. Live sports engagement technology will build stronger connections, while also capturing data sports leagues can use to understand their audience and drive meaningful change.