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SBJ/March 14-20, 2016/Opinion
How technology puts fans in the game, measures enjoyment
Published March 14, 2016, Page 17
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In short, Enthrall’s technology enables the first, patented, real-time interaction between smartphones and the in-venue Jumbotron and other forms of display. Enthrall’s technology also includes facial recognition, enabling the team to analyze and measure the engagement level and emotional response of the audience.
|Using Enthrall’s FanCap, fans can create short videos and submit them to the team’s control room. Real-time voting can be conducted via phone.
Photos by: COURTESY OF ENTHRALL SPORTS
We are leaving the era when fans and viewers have had content pushed at them; pushed content is all about the sender and not the receiver. Instead, “pulling” content from the fans engages them in a way that they can be creative by producing meaningful content. According to Enthrall CEO Alan McGinnis, “When content is pushed to the audience, it excludes fans from participating in the experience. Fans are eager to engage and participate and they expect to be able to do so.”
On a somewhat related front, team owners are in many cases struggling to protect the gate — the tickets sold to the game. The live experience is competing with a home viewing experience with very compelling HDTV, surround sound, multiple replays, their own food, drink and restrooms, and no traffic. Creating an epic, live game experience where the audience participates rather than spectates is a solid response to that challenge.
Fans have been creating team-related content and posting it on their preferred social media outlets for some time. Why not share that content with others who feel strongly about the subject matter and share it where it can have the biggest impact: in the venue during the game?
McGinnis describes the app as “crowd-sourcing content in a live, real-time setting. With our technology, the Lightning can offer an innovative, cutting-edge game-day experience that truly engages and entertains its fans.” Lightning CEO Steve Griggs says “the Enthrall technology enables us to tap into the passion and creativity of our fans on a nightly basis while enabling our fans to share their passion for the team in a variety of smart, fun and engaging ways.” It goes without saying that the cumulative effect of fan-generated content is to inspire other fans to become more involved and create content of their own, thus creating live inventory that can be repurposed and serve multiple audiences while living on a variety of platforms.
Enthrall’s mobile app — FanCap (short for Fan Capture) — lives inside the team’s mobile app. Using FanCap, fans can create short videos and submit them directly to the team’s game-ops control room. The team can request specific video themes (such as a victory dance) or accept video regardless of theme. The Lightning also can use the technology to conduct live, real-time voting and fan polling during a game. And FanCap addresses the issue of the music selections being played in the building, as well, asking for access to attendees’ music libraries and aggregating that music into a play list that represents the preferences of the fans attending that particular game.
|The Lightning invites fans to engage in the game-day experience.
In a world of ubiquitous smartphones where everyone is a content producer, Enthrall created an app that capitalizes on the fans’ interest in producing and sharing content. Because of the stage, it can produce a high level of talent capable of creating the type of meaningful content shared and enjoyed by the masses of sports fans. While fans have been creating and sharing content on multiple social platforms for some time, Enthrall appears to be a vehicle that organizes the social chaos by creating a “fan channel” that serves as a conduit between the fans and the team.
Bill Sutton (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the founding director of the sport and entertainment business management MBA at the University of South Florida and principal of Bill Sutton & Associates. Follow him on Twitter @Sutton_ImpactU.