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Volume 21 No. 1
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Fans eager for face time on the big screen

Incorporating fans into video board content dates back more than a decade through technologies such as text-to-screen and virtual polling. But the current rush toward monster-sized boards is providing teams, venue operators and mobile marketing outfits a far larger and more interesting canvas on which to operate.

Perhaps the most prevalent sign is the sharply increased use of fan-taken photos during games. Dozens of teams and college athletic programs for several years have incorporated Twitter and Facebook posts from fans as a means to heighten the in-game experience. Applications have varied widely between text crawls on ribbon boards to larger presentations on main displays during breaks of play.

Firms such as Mobivity have worked with teams to boost fan engagement by highlighting fan-taken photos during games.
Photo by: Mobivity
But with mobile phone camera technology improving rapidly, and the resolution of many video boards now a true high-definition, many teams have liberally used fan shots during games that first were posted on social media, or are texted or emailed to clubs specially at the teams’ request.

“The resolution achievable now on the boards has opened up a lot of new possibilities,” said Michael Falato, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Mobivity. The Texas-based firm, formerly known as Txtstation Mobile Marketing, works with the Dallas Cowboys, Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, among others.

“Everybody, of course, wants their two minutes of fame, and getting all those social media photos up there is one tool,” Falato said. “Before, it was really hard to post photos on the smaller boards. They looked like little thumbnails. But with the bigger boards, you can still see them and still have your regular game feeds.”

The next wave of experimentation between cutting-edge video boards and social media will involve in part the fast-rising realm of location-based services and even more work in photo sharing. Syracuse University late last year began testing an integration with Foursquare in which fans checking into games at the Carrier Dome will have their photos posted on ribbon boards there. The ribbon boards are part of a new Daktronics display system installed by the school.

“We’ve seen an increase in check-ins for these games, so it is clear fans want to see themselves and their friends on the scoreboard,” said Jonathan Crowley, director of business development at Foursquare, in a statement regarding the company’s work with Syracuse. Crowley’s older brother, company founder and chief executive Dennis, is a Syracuse alumnus.

Many teams and university athletic departments are also actively exploring the integration of popular photo-sharing service Instagram into their in-game video board content displays.