New research shows UK spectators can see benefits of mobile connectivity to enrich their match-day experience
One in five (19%) respondents said that they had checked for WiFi in a sports venue and 37% of those who have checked said they had used it to go online. The survey clearly shows sports fans’ preference for free WiFi: only 3% of respondents said that they would pay for WiFi access at a stadium/track.
Interestingly, although the vast majority of the 1,945 respondents in the YouGov SixthSense report said that they would not pay for WiFi to get special content, 11% of those who had visited a venue in the past two years said that they would pay for WiFi to get live commentary, and 12% said they would pay to get real-time replays.
19% agreed with the idea of being able to order and pay for half time refreshments on their mobile devices through WiFi.
Easynet and iBAHN, as part of the Connected Everywhere* consortium, champion the benefits of the connected fan and the rich, interactive stadium experience.
Adrian Thirkill, Easynet’s UK managing director says: “We need to show fans and event-goers that technology can enhance a visit to a stadium rather than detract from the main event. As the ‘second screen’ evolves, using a tablet to access information synchronised with an event will become second nature”.
Thirkill cites the example of Reflink in rugby at the very basic level, a single station radio available at major matches and international games for £10, on which fans can hear what the officials are saying to the players. Just listening brings the pitch experience to life, gives an insight into the game and helps explain the rules to fans who are new to the sport. This has huge potential to evolve into a visual media-rich experience.
In the U.S., visitors to events including the Super Bowl get a rich, personalised, interactive and collaborative experience and can even order, and pay for, half time refreshments without having to queue.
Graeme Powell, managing director iBAHN EMEA says: “We think that the British sports fan is on the cusp of embracing fast, secure and stable WiFi at events. If we look back to pre-broadband internet, users would not dream of downloading video or even music. The availability of broadband transformed the way people used the internet. In the same way, the availability of free WiFi will fundamentally change and improve the sports fan’s experience at stadiums.”
He continues: “Technology doesn’t have to be intrusive. Collaboration and information-rich integrated content can create an unforgettable experience. Think about London 2012: it was classed as the first truly digital games, with unprecedented use of social media. The volume of tweets, images and videos was huge.”