Panelists Discuss Emerging Technology For The In-Stadium Experience
Mobile-based purchasing and fan engagement remained a hot topic yesterday at the AT&T Sports Facilities and Franchises conference in Hoboken, N.J., during a panel titled, “Emerging Venue Technology.” ByPass Lane President Brandon Lloyd said that his company is “turning every smartphone that passes through your gate into a point of sale” and using its system to help teams “learn more about your customer buying behavior.” Also on the panel were YinzCam Founder & CEO Priya Narasimhan, Penguins VP/Business Partnerships David Peart and New Meadowlands Stadium Co. VP/Design & Construction Robert Jordan. The Penguins and YinzCam partnered on a mobile video system at Consol Energy Center, and Peart said applications such as these help the team compete against the at-home sports viewing experience. Peart: “YinzCam is a great way for us to bridge that DVR, video replay component.” The panelists in turn addressed Mark Cuban’s well-publicized concerns that fans who are using their phones during a game are not immersed in the arena experience. Narasimhan said when she uses her mobile unit at the venue, she is still “fully engaged” in the game. Peart argued that mobile engagement can actually make the game experience more “communal.” Lloyd pointed out the somewhat ironic fact that despite Cuban’s comments, AmericanAirlines Arena is a ByPass client. When asked about the level of usage of YinzCam at Consol Energy Center, Narasimhan said that it could reach as high as 35-40% for a closely-contested playoff game. Lloyd said usage rates for the ByPass system have been “repeat and very high” once consumers get past the initial hurdle of trying it out.
OBSTACLE COURSE: While all of the panelists were bullish on new mobile technologies, they did not ignore the challenges it presents. Lloyd noted that ByPass often runs into connectivity issues at venues, but it has worked with AT&T to resolve these issues in venues such as Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Lloyd: “In the offseason a distributed antenna system (DAS) was put in, and it totally solved the problem. … We’re seeing what was a significant issue when we began having conversations with franchises and venues a year ago beginning to solve itself.” Narasimhan noted video is a “bandwidth hog.” Narasimhan: “You still have to convince people who don’t have a new arena, and the healthy budget that goes with it, to fund some WiFi.” Jordan said, “Only the last six or seven buildings that have been built are truly digital buildings. Everything else is kind of … making do with old technology and new technology.” Jordan added the decision to have WiFi at the outset of a venue also affects architecture and other back-end considerations, and “those dominoes are going to start falling.” Lloyd said another major challenge is determining who the leaders will be in the space. Lloyd: “There’s so much noise in the mobile space today, it’s very difficult for the folks sitting in this room to separate the leaders from the pack. Any garage developer can build an app.” Meanwhile, in-stadium screen displays were another topic of discussion. Jordan, noting the importance placed on these displays during construction of New Meadowlands Stadium, said, “We live in a video-centric world. I think it is another palette, and it allows the brand to come across individually.” Peart: “Beyond the large-format video screen, we’re extremely bullish on IPTV. We have almost 900 monitors in our building.” Peart said the Cisco StadiumVision system improves the fan experience and sponsorship, promotes the team’s brand and helps concourse revenue. Peart: “You can’t swing a cat in our building without hitting a video screen.”