App Development

It Shouldn't Be So Hard to Get a Hot Dog: Mobile in the Sports Arena

Mutual Mobile
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October 5, 2011

A trend of rising ticket prices and thinner fan wallets is leading professional sports organizations to cut costs, and find ways to rationalize the purchase of tickets when fans can just as easily watch from home. But one of the industry’s biggest opportunities is already inside the pockets of fans and players.

From the front gate to the sidelines, mobile has the power to improve customer experience, cut costs, and open new revenue streams. The following are just a few of the gaps mobile can fill in professional sports and some examples of how they are already being employed in stadiums across the nation.

An Event Program in Your Pocket

For an away-game fan, and often even for a home team fan, there’s a lot of information they need to know about the stadium during a game, ranging from where to park, to upcoming events. For a long time, printed programs have sufficed, but by switching to mobile, organizers can change up promotions, offer interactive ad space and communicate with the crowd in real time.

On the surface level, an app saves on printing and distribution costs, but ongoing, it opens a new avenue of push notices that event organizers can use to communicate relevant deals to ticket holders, and a new source of data about their customers.

Selling the Experience

One of the keys is selling not only the game, but the in-stadium experience. Mobile can add a new layer of entertainment atop the game that makes ticket holders feel more connected to both the team and their fellow fans.

>Real time game information, instant replays, stadium-wide chat, and augmented reality inject a social element unique to the stadium that hammers home the value of buying a ticket.

In addition, these can also be used as value-add perks for higher priced tickets. At Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, the Patriots Game Day application is only available to those seated in the Fidelity Investment section. Crowdzone is one of the leaders in this field with multiple entertainment features including trivia quizzes between fans.

It Shouldn’t Be that Hard to Get a Hot Dog

Two of the biggest pain points in going to a sports event are the long lines and the numerous little purchases – from hot dogs to foam fingers – that rack up through the day. Mobile can help alleviate both of these.

Mobile ticketing is already starting to find its way into the mainstream as airline passengers use mobile boarding passes, and soon it will find its way into all venues. Whether it manifest as scannable QR codes on ticketholders’ screens, or a tappable NFC pad, digital tickets can shave hours off of entrance time and reduce the number of employees needed to collect tickets and control crowds.

Many a fan has missed an amazing play because of a trip to the concessions stand, or had to pass on that beer because they were out of cash. Mobile is already solving this problem in many stadiums and has the potential to accomplish much more. With the FanGo app, spectators don’t wait for the hot dog vendor to make his way to their section – they order him there via the app.

FanGo finds that their customers order twice as much as a customer at the stands.

This method not only delivers food on demand, the food is fresher, and the buyer has more choices and payment options- all of which take a little of the sting out of the side cost of a sports event.

iPad Playbooks

The way teams guard their playbooks, you would think they were FBI classified documents. These strategic books are constantly updated and require almost enterprise-level security. That’s why when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the fall season by outfitting all their players with iPad playbooks.

With a mobile playbook, coaches can push new plays directly to their teams, remotely wipe the devices and password encrypt them to keep out prying eyes. The iPad’s multimedia capacity lets players watch video of old plays, coaches can sketch new plays, and both can handle text and numeric data on the fly.

The sports industry is ruled by its fans, and its fans are ruled by mobile. By making meaningful investments in mobile, sports teams can open up new revenue channels and save on areas they are already spending, all while laying foundation for the future of their industry.