According to SportBusiness Intelligence, 50% of UK sports fans would rather follow their chosen sport on TV than watch it live, prompting industry experts to weigh in.
MEI’s COO Andy Rice said: “To me it shows that event organisers still have work to do to improve the fan experience. Or perhaps, as most are selling out, they don’t care? It certainly is a reminder not to slip into complacency.“
68% of that 50% cite ‘the price of tickets’ for their decision to consume sport from the sofa or on the go via the small screen. Other factors included convenience; the cost of travel; the hassle of travel; hassle securing tickets; improved camera angles and expert commentary. Many elements that are outside rights holders’ control.
Rice added: “Rights holders have a challenge. As broadcasters, who continue to furnish them with large chunks of cash, improve their content delivery and OTT offers, how do they keep pace and ensure their sports forums are filled to capacity, and event day profits (I use this word advisedly, as opposed to ‘revenues’) are maximised?”
At the SportBusiness/Sportel Sports Decision Makers Summit in July, experts debated how to improve the event day experience. Michael Cole, CTO, at the PGA European Tour (which runs 46 tournaments a year across 30 countries) explained: “We basically have to build a town for every tournament. We no longer see ourselves as a golfing organisation, but an entertainment provider. Connectivity is as basic a right to fans as latrines it seems. The European Tour does all it can to help fans amplify their experience through sharing images and video with friends on social media.
“Additional fan benefits are provided by seamless connectivity such as wayfinding and enhanced content.”
Cole illustrated the growing level of content being shared with fans by explaining, “in the last four years the number of player data points captured have increased from 23,000 to 700,000!” The PGA have sophisticated crowd tracking software which is used for safety and security, but also to maximise merch’ and food and bev’ sales. Push notifications are used to facilitate this.
AEG VP Global Partnerships’ Paul Samuels added: “US Sports are very different as they are there basically as a background for a social experience- eating, drinking and chatting; rather than for the sport itself”. He was excited about the trend to use push messaging in augmented reality to create location-based marketing and claimed that the festival experience was setting the bar for bespoke experiences- which will see a greater diversification of ticket pricing.
Meanwhile, Tom Jones, senior principal at Populous explained that, for the new Spurs stadium, the company wanted fans to arrive earlier and stay later: “We also had to make it NFL friendly. We did that predominantly by adding lots of additional facilities and reasons to be there; but we had to put the deep footballing traditions at the heart of the project”.
Jones was delighted with description of the new stadium as a ‘pub on steroids, with a match taking place in the beer garden’. He explained that the decision to go cashless was based on service efficiency- to minimise queuing and maximise revenues.