At the Patriots home opener at Gillette last weekend we saw the start of a new era in the NFL. No It wasn’t the bad calls or Tom Brady’s first throw ending in an interception it was the New England Patriots becoming slightly savvier marketers.
On the 16th Gillette Stadium launched a three year project with the assistance of Enterasys to provide each guest with access to high-speed internet via their mobile device. The system address the strain on the stadium networks during game day with the added long term benefit of fans receiving a unique game day experience and for guests to share those game day experience in real-time.
Jonathan Kraft, president of The Kraft Group and the Patriots, said in a statement,
“In-stadium, high-density Wi-Fi providing any guest with a rich Internet experience is the next frontier for the NFL and it is something we have been researching for years… We believe that well-constructed mobile applications — accessible through the Enterasys Wi-Fi network — will ultimately deliver content available nowhere else, truly differentiating the in-stadium experience from any other.”
The stadium in the future* is going to borrow a play from NASCAR’s Fanvision system that will provide guests unique audio and video content via existing broadcast streams. While I have some serious doubts that fan’s will be willing to hold their mobile device in one hand and a beverage in November to watch a video… it’s certainly could increase the die-hard fan experience.
Keep in mind that Gillette Stadium on a sold out Patriots game can host 68,756 guests and according to mobile usage trends half of those game attendees have a mobile device at the game. The potential of roughly 34,378 attendees sharing photos, video, tweets and updates of their Patriots game day experience is well worth the multimillion upfront cost to create the new network. While the Pats have packed sold out games since the mid- 90’s there may come a time in the very far future that having 34K folks promoting “game-day” will certainly help continue that trend.
Currently to highlight the new functionality of the stadiums network the Patriots have put out two apps for iOS and Android:
Gillette Stadium app:
Basic event information application with some social components
• Events & tickets- shows schedule of upcoming events and allows mobile purchasing
• NFL Redzone- A streaming video feed of the NFL Redzone channel only available when in the stadium
• Directions & Parking
• Maps and seating
• Check In- Check In via Facebook, Twitter, or FourSquare
• Facebook Fan pages- View all teams Fan page
• Live Stats- Real-time game day stats
Patriots 2012 app:
o Patriots News
o Game Day Stats and live Blog
o Team Roster with stats
o NFL RedZone – Only available when in the Stadium
o mPoints- Gamification app from sessionm that rewards app users with points based on activity that can be redeemed for tangible rewards. Check in daily gain 10 points, watch a sponsored video gain 25 points, collect 5,000 points receive a $5 gift card to amazon
With roughly 15 other stadiums weekly hosting NFL games, the potential to increase fan engagement with an estimated half million game day attendees acting as in-seat content distributors should be atop the leagues list as they look towards global expansion.
You don’t need to have a multi-million dollar system to take advantage of using a physical location for a social boost, here are a two low-cost ways you could turn door- swings into a social multiplier:
1)Offer free Wi-Fi to those users who complete a social action.
2)Create a unique guest experience that will have folks taking photos and making updates for the right reasons- Service, Quality, and Value.
As for this weekends game against the Ravens… -Go Pats!