Expanding the Fan Base with Wireless Applications

by David Eckoff · 0 comments

This article was originally published on PaidContent.org on November 17, 2004.

sports.media.tech.logo.175 This is the third in a series of reports blogging the more interesting panel presentations at the recently concluded 6th Annual Sports Media & Technology conference.

“Expanding the Fan Base with Wireless Applications”..

Jay Cooperider, Associate Athletic Director at Purdue University talked about Purdue’s wireless initiative to enhance the fan experience at games with real-time game statistics, player and coach biographies, area traffic and weather and on-demand video replays. Fans can even e-mail the coach during the game with feedback and the coach will use the questions on his mid-week radio and television talk shows. Cooperider said that Purdue’s wireless initiative also will enhance the tailgating experience of fans, but personally I’d opt for a cheeseburger and cold beer when tailgating, instead of a PDA. Read more about Purdue’s initiative in this article in Forbes: “Wireless Information Heads For The Big Game”

Bill Schlough, CIO of the San Francisco Giants talked about Wi-Fi hot spots in the stadium for Giants games. Is in-stadium Wi-Fi a distraction to the game? Schlough says for many fans it is not. “A lot of fans want to bring in devices with them and they want to multi task,” Schlough said. He noted that in baseball there is a lot of dead time during the game, unlike in basketball, and that you can fill in that time with content via their Wi-Fi network. Call me a baseball purist, but when I’m at the game on a weekend, I want to leave the Internet behind and enjoy the game without any distractions. But I can imagine taking my laptop to a weekday game during the day, and working while taking in a game at Safeco Field… shhhhhh. Get more perspective in this Business 2.0 article “San Francisco Giants’ Wi-Fi Experiment”

— The always popular Evan Kamer, Senior Director of New Media for the NFL, suggests paying attention to how the youth market uses wireless devices, a sentiment shared by lunch time key note speaker Bob Bowman, President & CEO of MLB Advanced Media. That’s sage advice. Watch younger people as they divide their time into ever smaller bits and rapidly shift between an iPod, a dozen instant messages, TV and e-mail; anything less and they’re bored. Does this have implications for future wireless applications for sports fans? Oh, yeah.

— Several panelists emphasized that the in-stadium wireless applications need to be free, at least in the near term. And they want to make money by driving people to other things they can charge for.

Bill Schlough added: “Our goal is that the only reason a person needs to leave their seat during the game is to go to the bathroom. And we’re working on that, too.” All kidding aside, Schlough mentioned that the Giants don’t restrict what content fans can access in the stadium (via parental control software like Net Nanny) but if a fan surfs (ahem) adult content sites in the stadium, and that offends a person near them, then ushers will remove that person from the stadium. Baseball, apple pie and… well, never mind.

Barry Silberman, EVP for NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, said we generally take wireless access for granted these days, and he wants people at games to have that same freedom. He wants the fan experience to be better, and notes that it was only 10 years ago that the sports industry first embraced the Internet.

Next up: “Turning a Team Website into a Profit Center”.

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