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Make fans the stars of your event experiences

By Crystal Poncsak

This blog is part of a series exploring some of the findings uncovered by our recent research report, Sports, gaming and rock & roll: Connectivity and the fan experience.  

Make fans the stars of your event experiences

New fan engagement technologies are enabling experiences that were once beyond imagination. Mixed reality experiences play a significant role in that. Today’s event-goers don’t want to just sit and watch events, they want to actively participate and shape their own experiences. Robust connectivity is key to enabling the immersive and engaging experiences fans expect.

Mobile apps at BMO Stadium, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, T-Mobile Arena, to name a few, leverage augmented reality (AR) to provide enhanced game replays, overlay player stats, and deliver interactive and exclusive, behind-the-scenes experiences. At Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH, fans can step inside a photobooth to take a photo with their favorite (virtual) Blue Jackets player. In Charlotte, NC, at the Bank of America Stadium, fans come face-to-face with a gigantic AR panther stalking around the stadium, leaping across the bowl and snacking on the visiting team’s flag. These are just a few examples of how new technologies liked mixed reality are enabling fan experiences that weren’t possible even a few years ago. For venue owners and operators, offering selfie walls, games and other technology-enabled activities allow fans to choose-their-own adventure and keeps them coming back for more.

Watching vs. experiencing an event

These days, there are more options than ever to watch events from the comfort of home. Yet our survey of event-goers in the US and the UK found that a staggering 93% of fans prefer to attend events in-person because they offer an experience they just can’t get at home. For many of them (39%), the extra in-venue entertainment options and activations are part of that unique experience – and they arrive early to take advantage of them. In fact, a third of fans like to arrive at the venue at least an hour early.

Fans want to engage with exclusive, immersive interactions from the moment they arrive at a venue. And connectivity is key to enabling these experiences. Around one-quarter of fans immediately look for selfie walls or other fan experiences, and 75% would like to see more of them. One-third also say more interactive activities alongside the main event would make them more likely to return to the venue for another event.

Sponsored activities level up the excitement

Whether it’s an opportunity to meet players, play games, or take part in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences, sponsorships can play a key role in enabling great fan experiences, all while driving in-venue revenue. Most fans (81%) say sponsored activities make an event more enjoyable. For more than two-thirds of fans (68%), AR and VR have become integral parts of the live event experience, and 62% would like to see more of them used, especially at sporting events.

Some venues are already delivering these immersive experiences. In San Francisco, AR photo kiosks let 49ers fans take selfies with interactive AR renditions of their favorite players. Other stadiums, such as BMO Stadium, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, T-Mobile Arena, and more, are offering AR overlays for smartphones, tablets or even smart glasses that let fans see player stats, tour behind-the-scenes spaces, and watch enhanced replays with ball trajectories and/or kick distances, possession data and alternate camera angles – all in real-time.

And these fan engagement opportunities are just the beginning. With technology’s exponential advancements, immersive and personalized experiences will redefine the possibilities. For example, private boxes could be transformed into digital projection rooms where fans can interact with the headliner or the captain of the winning team. Such an experience would not only create unforgettable moments for attendees, but would also create valuable revenue sources for venues, through sponsorship opportunities.

Creating the connections that keep fans coming back for more

The live event landscape is constantly evolving, with new and innovative fan interactions reshaping the way we experience sports and entertainment. Venue connectivity needs to deliver lag-free, always-available experiences to ensure fans not only love their time at the event, but also eagerly look forward to the next one. World-leading venues are working with neutral host partners, like Boldyn Networks, to enable tomorrow’s interactions, today.

Want to learn more?

We are focused on improving connectivity, from start to finish. With fans’ increased expectations and ever-changing needs, enhanced connectivity is the answer. Discover more about our key findings and take live events to the next level.