As global sports venues and live events shift towards better enabling and monetizing digital strategies, we’ve seen a huge amount of activity around creating apps that cater to fan needs and engagement.

With in-venue attendances fluctuating and TV viewership continuing to provide the most ardent of competitors, event promoters combined with teams/association have looked to app solutions to both enhance the enjoyment of attending fans, as well as attract the attention of second screen viewers at home.

Our focus here is to highlight the best event app offerings that are currently available – with a focus on including the most innovative apps, while also casting a keen eye on design and UI. Overall though, these are the apps that ultimately hold the greatest potential for adding to an event experience.

6. Finding Your WAY!

The biggest live events are going to need to be hosted in the biggest venues and with thousands of people milling in every direction, finding your way around can be a real struggle.

To help you as soon as you hit the venue, existing parking apps such as JustPark and StadiumPark can make life a helluva lot easier as they guide you into your spot, from your spot and manage all the billing functions for you!

Inside the venue – there’s still work to be done on really ensuring that fans can get turn-by-turn directions around the venue, however, Venuenext app technology at Levi’s Stadium claims to offer this functionality AND let people see lines and wait times to the nearest bathrooms and concession

Now that goes a long way to taking the hassle out of crowded events!

5. Seat Upgrades

What a fantastic idea. We’ve all been there, sat up in the cheap seats looking over rows and rows of empty seats with far better viewing angles stretching out in front of us. Now thanks to a raft of seat upgrade apps (ExpApps, Pogoseats, Leap App, LetsMoveDown) you can pick out the seat you deserve to be in (as a hardened fan) and upgrade at discount prices if they’re empty when the game kicks off.

It’s a pretty competitive market with 4 key app developers partnering across the US, each vying to work alongside the sports teams and associations. ExpApps and Pogoseat seem to have the market leading positions though, with ExpApps already integrated into the MLB league-wide app “At The Ballpark”, while Pogoseat operates seat upgrades integrated within the Barclays Center app (see number 2!)

4. Food & Beverage Purchases

Directly from the comfort, safety and sanctity of your seat. Peruse the menu, click to pay online and sit back and wait for your chilli fries to arrive. Forgot to order your friends beer? No problem, two clicks away and it’s already en-route.

Three significant players here as Bypass, Yorder and Snagmobile provide the technology that can power this across multiple integrated venue apps.

The only problem with the continuous stream of beers coming your way? The bathroom break still requires you to get up and walk. Thankfully.

3. Video Replay

There’s always that one play of the game you miss.,.. but that’s what happens when you’re having fun, isn’t it!

The experience of attending a live event involves so much more than just the game – however, now with the help of Cisco StadiumVision – you can have the time of your life, soak up all the atmosphere and not worry about missing the play.

So if you’ve ever been distracted by …

…the smoothest 10 year old ever to attend a baseball game,

…the guy singing Journey to his goose, or

Or just those few seconds of glory when the TV cameras pan to you!

Rest easy, video replay live in the stadium means you can catch all the up-close replays just like at home.

2. The All-Rounder

Across the industry and as can be seen from our (fantastic) list, the sports app industry is significantly fragmented with a great deal of companies all catering for different aspects of the fan experience.

As the market continues to develop, we fully expect there to be a significant level of integration across these app offerings – ideally packaging up the power of the separate components into one dedicated venue app offering that really resonates with the fans.

The Barclays Center App developed by Willow Tree Apps comes closest to this all-round offering, packaging Cisco StadiumVision, Pogoseat and Bypass technology within its highly UI considerate design. It really is fantastically pleasing on the eye – now all we need is a trip to New Jersey, US to try it out during a game!

1. Fan Engagement & Sponsor Value

Every event is unique, as is each individual fans experience – no wonder they love to share the opinions, photos, vines and video across social media with their friends. However, while app solutions try and engage fans effectively – they don’t provide opportunities for fans to win rewards in exchange for this engagement.

When you take into account that the fan generated content shared across social media is so attractive to sponsors – it seems natural to reward fans in exchange for their contribution.

Crowdsight does this – using the lure of sponsored rewards to really incentivise fans to share within our app before  content gets lost on social media – and providing real and actionable analytics around the value of both the content and the fan engagement.

Ye we know, we’re blowing our own trumpet (*we even stuck ourselves in at number 1!), but check out the results we got recently at the Dublin Marathon 2014: http://www.crowdsight.co/CaseStudy_Crowdsight_SSEAirtricity.jpg

Honourable Mention:

While Levi’s Stadium App meets many of these criteria and arguably performs just as well as Barclays Center App – it was unfortunately, not available for download in Europe, so we couldn’t really rate it. Venuenext – the app developers that have spun this out into a stadium venue offering, provide more detailed view here.