Connectivity matters. With 1 out of 3 college students and young employees classing it as essential as water, air, food and shelter according to this Cisco report – limiting your WiFi infrastructure risks antagonising a significant target demographic.

While it could be argued that this statistic may be more representative of the 1st World problems of a younger generation, it does reflect the significance of sharing and communication to an always-on fan base – and the potential of a Connected Stadium strategy.

Look no further than the single biggest event in the annual sporting calendar; the NFL Superbowl. With TV ads costing $ 4 million + USD, the global reach and branding value comes at a cost – with this immense level of investment capable of pushing brands towards bankruptcy.

However, for Sponsors keen to access such a significant demographic – the impact is worth the risk and there is huge competition to access these fans and align brands with the excitement of the event. Within the arena, these Sponsorships can be protected – everything is controlled from the branding on jerseys to the gadgets in the coaches hands (although commentators needed a bit of clarification on this).

In terms of connectivity, the Superbowl as an event, is supported considerably as partners recognise the huge marketing potential of successfully supplying this event. Extreme Networks – one of the leading WiFi infrastructure providers in the US – has invested significant sums to power the WiFi within the arena and provide fans with stable connectivity.

“It’s interesting therefore to examine the Superbowl against the backdrop of this connectivity and understand the potential ramifications relative to Sponsorship value.”

Purview Analytics (the analytics engine associated with Extreme), has published detailed data from Superbowl 2014 that shows the huge appetite for sharing on the part of fans at an event. Key highlights illustrate that social networking applications were the most highly used, with over 60% of WiFi connected fans sharing on Facebook, with another 18% and 17% on Twitter & Instagram respectively.

A total of 3.2 TB of data was shared at Superbowl 2014. On Instagram 5 photos per second were uploaded. Per Second! … Pretty impressive, right? Very impressive … until you look at the same analytics data from Superbowl 2015 – which shows that 25% of total attending fans logged onto the Wi-Fi, sharing almost TWICE the amount of data at 6.23TB (you can check out our detailed Infographic comparing Superbowl 2014 & 2015 here).

 

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When you factor in the DAS systems around the venue as well – there was one clear realisation:

“Sharing has exploded to an estimated 12+ TB of data – a record at any single event!”

This is a fact that was and should be celebrated – it highlights the fan excitement of the event and the huge appetite for information and fan generated content around it. However, this level of fan engagement and data usage clearly illustrate the risks related to a Connected Stadium – as immense volumes of event specific content can be shared.

“Significantly, this means that event IP is being shared out in huge volumes to a wider audience across social channels, with no alignment to Sponsorship value!”

Unlike within the stadium where every facet of branding and sponsorship can be controlled, social channels are hugely competitive – with external brands able to create, promote and excite fans around a specific event  – effectively hijacking the hashtag to drive alignment with an event at zero cost.

A study following World Cup 2014 highlighted the issue. Adidas as premier Sponsor paid between 25-50 million USD to effectively align itself with the World Cup, its largest competitor Nike spent zero on official Sponsorship and invested heavily in creating content & buzz across social. The results of this study by Blue Agency, demonstrated that Nike had almost double the interactions and engagement, as well as significantly more affinity with the event across social media channels.

“This is not an argument against connectivity – whether its Wi-Fi & DAS now or 5G networks coming soon, connectivity is unavoidable.”

However, WiFi does present a unique set of problems as it powers fans to share event content in real-time – meaning it has the potential to erode existing commercial agreements with both Sponsors & Broadcasters – as traffic is diverted to the un-managed sphere of social media. Case in point, this much maligned post by Twitter CEO after the Mayweather – Pacquioa fight:

The issue therefore lies in strategies to manage social media to make it work for commercial rights holders, so as to ensure Sponsors retain access to official & exclusive opportunities. There is a huge opportunity presented by Connected Stadiums – and this infographic highlights the value how app solutions could create new revenue streams and most importantly protect sponsorship value effectively.

Ultimately, for Connected Stadia to make viable commercial sense in this respect, its’ imperative that Sponsors and Rights Holders look towards digital sponsorship tools and products to provide greater control & value – with greater emphasis on driving fans towards official digital properties that can be controlled, while providing a platform for Sponsors to take advantage of.

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Crowdsight has created a mobile app that creates and measures sponsorship value at live events, while driving fan engagement through Rewards. Contact us at info@crowdsight.co to discuss our product in more detail, or talk to us about your digital sponsorship needs!