📷 | peter clarkson

Going digital can improve football fan experience

People who know me, know that I love sport. Football and basketball more specifically. Growing up, football create a sacred bond with my Dad. We would cheer on the Brisbane Roar from our family home and make it out to Suncorp Stadium whenever we could.

Recently, 20,198 fans packed into Suncorp for the game against Melbourne City, me included. The week earlier, we recorded our lowest attendance for the season with 13,428 against Perth Glory. In comparison, the average attendance at a rugby league game at Suncorp is 34,850. How absolutely ridiculous.

What draws a big crowd?

Two words: Tim Cahill

Cahill has has been heralded by Australian media as the prodigal son, a legend in Australian football. He has played 94 games for the Socceroos, and has recently returned home to play for Melbourne City FC. He’s what’s called a marquee signing.

Marquee players are expected to not only boost performance in the team but recognise their role as a promotional tool. Of Cahill’s salary, the FFA has agreed to contribute up to $750,000. So in Cahill’s case, he’s not only selling Melbourne City, but he suddenly becomes the new face of the A-League.

Cahill’s the boost to the code that we needed, but is it enough to keep people interested in the sport?

I highly doubt it.

The digital fan experience

Something needs to be done to make the whole experience of attending a game worthwhile.

We live in a society now where people expect a blended experience that involves both physical and digital domains. Technology can play a significant role in engaging fans in an experience that makes them want to come back. Some examples of things happening across the U.S. already:

  • Connectivity is the most critical. The number of times I’ve spent waiting for a tweet to send while sitting in Suncorp Stadium is insane. The excruciating pain of being detached from the football community while watching the football. Not cool.
  • Beacons offer an exciting opportunity for stadiums to offer fans exclusive, game-day deals. This ingenious tech can tell fans where the closest restroom is and the waiting time. It also offers the stadium useful information as to the movements of fans. Learn more about how beacons are used in other countries here.
  • Team apps allow fans to engage with the club in a more efficient way. Some team apps allow fans to locate their seats, watch highlight videos and replays, view exclusive content, game and player statistics, and special game-day promotions. What a time to be alive.

Things like these could easily change the game for football, for the better. I can’t wait until a club in Australia changes the game by involving technology to better the fan experience.

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