australiansports

The 2017 Fan Engagement/Experience 100-1 Recap

Hello and welcome to the 2017 fan engagement/experience year in review countdown-recap-innovation-spectacular where I’ll again be showcasing 100-1 ideas from this space across the sports business landscape. Of course this is all in my honest opinion so if you have seen something else that should of made it into the list please join the discussion on Twitter @MrBlairHughes or comment below with your thoughts as this is all about sharing and showcasing ideas with the sports business community.

Firstly, well done to the whole industry and in particular the hard working fan engagement/customer experience reps across the globe for once again going above and beyond for sports fans to not only listen to them but provide them with memorable experiences.

This year I’ll also be providing a quirky, random and fun take on some of the weird and wonderful things I’ve seen in this area from across my travels throughout Australia, USA, UK, Japan and India over the course of the year. You’ll be able to follow that on Twitter under the hashtag #25DaysOfFE.

The previous 100-1 countdowns can also be found below:

2016: Fan Engagement 2016 Year In Review: 100 Global Fan Engagement/Experience Activations

2015: Fan Engagement 2015 Year In Review: 100 Global Fan Engagement Activations

In 2017 I also added over 2000 ideas to my 6000+ fan engagement/experience Pinterest board which has again proven to be a valuable educational resource to leagues, clubs, stadiums and sponsors from across the globe as well as small businesses and university sports business courses. It’s great to know that a simple fun resource I started over four years ago has become so useful to so many colleagues all over the world from Russia and India to right here in Australia. 

On a personal level, 2017 has been an outstanding year of career development for myself. I took the risk to leave a hectic full time role and backed myself to jump straight into consulting picking up clients including the Portuguese Football League, Denver Broncos, Chelsea FC, Gage Roads Brewing Company, Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, TechFront, Sydney Swans and Kojo amongst a host of consulting for sports tech start-up’s, small businesses, craft breweries and clients within the music business. I also visited a bunch of new venues and attended close to 80 matches across India, Japan, USA, England and Australia with some of the experiences in Asia proving to be valuable in observing fan sociology and fan engagement in these parts of the world.

So what’s next in this space for sports fans then? How will fan engagement/experience continue to evolve?

My predictions for 2018 are that we’ll see more developments in the following areas:

  • Chat-bots
  • Continued rise of women’s sport from broadcasting to attendances resulting in more female fans and higher female sport participation numbers
  • More fan created content being harnessed by teams 
  • Focus on more illustrations and animations for content
  • Augmented reality viewing opportunities 
  • Athlete led content and more athlete voiced media
  • NFC/RFID tag/chips coming into more sports applications 
  • Holograms, drones, robots although in small doses
  • More inclusive venues with a focus on more ‘social spaces’ in venues displacing traditional seats
  • Facial recognition and biometrics technology 
  • Use of smart home devices in venues
  • iBeacons and geo-fences
  • More teams signing on ESports players, tapping into leagues and setting up training centres
  • Incredible out of this world stadium visual and audio shows
  • Fan led control over camera angles/viewing
  • More fan-first pricing options at venues
  • Ticketing companies to improve their technology to stop bots/scalpers
  • Interactive LIVE content from teams and media entities
  • Subscription passes becoming a popular form of ticketing
  • More gourmet, local and specialty food options available at venues
  • Getting fans into venues for non-team events and finding new ways to monetise venues year-round

What else would you add?

Let’s get started on the count down.

100. The Seattle Mariners installed the Amazon Alexa smart home device in each of their 59 suites to enable fans to use their voices to order food, change TV channels and play music all adding to the fan experience at Safeco Field. 


99. MLS team Philadelphia Union signed on a CTO. That’s right a Chief Tattoo Officer. A creative way to galvanise the local community and provide a new outlet for the team to acquire new fans. While the idea was originally designed just for players to get inked they’ve been able to host days like a ‘mini-tattoo-and-team fest’ that’s brought fans and players closer.


98. The Judge’s Chambers. Yankee Stadium and the NY Yankees added this special seating section to honour player Aaron Judge with faux wood paneling to resemble a courtroom’s jury box situated in three rows in section 104 of the stadium. Will we see future stadiums creating more of these type of areas within venue areas that can be reconfigured into new and creative spaces?

97. In my recent travels back and forth to London I’ve seen a few teams such as West Ham at the Olympic Stadium offer early bird incentive offers on food and beverage items in an attempt to get fans into the ground earlier which means more eyeballs on sponsors branding, more overall spend on merchandise and F&B and more chances for collecting data from fans as they interact with all of the fan engagement initiatives on display. I was lucky enough to hang out at Stamford Bridge a couple of times this season for Chelsea FC games and to take in their very good fan engagement activations but I also noted how they offer fans this early bird beer incentive for the first 30 minutes after gates open and then for a further 30 minutes if they use the club app to express order. Chelsea really have stepped up their offerings for fans and is one of the best fan zones I’ve checked out in recent UK football ground visits so if you get the chance stop by and check it out.

Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge

96. Of all the team, stadium and sports start up tech apps I played around with this year, the NRL Brisbane Broncos FanTribe gamification app was easily the most engaging, enjoyable and addictive. From earning points by participating in polls, quizzes and activities fans were able to use those and be rewarded with money can’t buy prizes and experiences. The exclusive insider content as well as the UX of the app were also key highlights here too.

Brisbane Broncos FanTribe

95. Chatbots. While there were an abundance of chat bots this year from across the sports business spectrum some of the key ones for me that stood out were right here in Australia with the Australian Kangaroos, Adelaide Crows and Perth Wildcats all delivering exceptional added opportunities for fans to engage with the teams via this AI tech. I tried hard to trip these chat bots up with mundane and hard questions but they were really well prepared and thought out. I also found it really cool and easy to be able to buy tickets to a game through Facebook Messenger as well. I expect to see more teams and venues jumping straight into this space in 2018 as it clearly represents an opportunity to continue to globally engage with fans 24/7 while offering potential new revenue streams for ticketing and merchandise.

94. While at NRG Stadium for Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas this year I participated in this ‘Fan Mail’ activation whereby fans could send a personalised postcard of their day at the Super Bowl to anyone in the world. I filled out one for my girlfriend back in Melbourne, my folks in Brisbane and a die-hard NFL mate in London. I didn’t hold out much hope that these would actually be sent internationally as I was thinking that they would only have stamps to cover internal US domestic postage but to my surprise and delight about a week after I got back from the US it arrived in my letterbox here in Melbourne.

93. While walking around the fan zone precinct for game 2 of the State of Origin at ANZ Stadium this year I had a quick go of the ‘Quick Shaves’ Schick Hydro sponsor activation where I got a little bit of a beard trim before the game. A nice little touch and a clever sponsor tie in to get ‘game ready’ for the big match.

Quick Shaves at SOO

92. Toy Toss. Hopefully a growing trend but there were a few good ones this year like the Hershey Bears toy toss on to the ice and the Charleroi one on to the pitch in Belgium. An idea that looks great on video and does a lot of good but probably makes all the OWHS, security and venue managers out there a little bit anxious. 

 

 

91. One trend I’ve seen this year is something that is far from a new thing but something which I don’t think clubs have effectively showcased to the public in the past. It’s not flashy, it’s not enabled by tech and it doesn’t take much effort. It’s the simple act of players giving their time after a performance to say thank you to fans, to sign autographs and even to give hugs to young fans who are desperate to meet their idols. Look at some of these kids faces. They are now hardcore loyal members for life of these teams and players because of these simple acts. Anyone whose worked in club land knows that these athletes do more community work and give up more of their time than most of us and along with these simple efforts after the game I think it goes a long way to adding to fan satisfaction both for the young fan and for the families who cough up the cash to attend. More of this in 2018 and more of teams showcasing the good they are doing for fans. Promoting the good stories and the positive experiences with fans, especially on social drives the ability to acquire new fans and galvanise existing supporters.

90. AFL Rookie Passport. I’ve seen some high quality educational team passports like from the Socceroos and Chelsea in the past but while attending the 2017 AFL Grand Final Footy Festival outside the MCG I picked up a copy of the AFL Rookie Passport and was very impressed with the content for junior fans. With an extensive spread of activities and engaging content this was one of the best I’ve seen for these formats. Kids were able to plan their day, do colouring in, complete quizzes and games all while learning healthy eating tips and other educational insights into both the life of an athlete and Aussie Rules.

 

89. A trend I’m seeing within stadium design is venues bringing in local artists or design studios to contribute artworks and design installations to liven up the often bland concrete walls and spaces inside venues. One team and venue that did this in 2017 was Southampton with the work they did at their stadium, St Mary’s. On my trek to Hard Rock Stadium for the Miami Dolphins last year I also noticed how they’ve linked up with local street artists to bring some colour and vibrancy to fans on match day.

 

88. While in Bangalore, India for the Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL match I thought that these ‘Ask Me Anything’ event staffed seats were a bright and beneficial addition to the match day to help fans understand what was happening on game day, where to enter the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and how to access transport. Being set high up at various points around the stadium certainly helped fans be able to see and access this supporter liaison officer.

87. Scarf The City. Orlando Pride scattered 1000 free scarves across Florida for fans to pick up and keep as part of a thank you to fans campaign.

Orlando City MLS

86. Atlanta Braves Glove Experience. At SunTrust Park fans are able to hire out a baseball glove for the day through sponsor Mizuno. Fans can take a glove for a $1 deposit and can use it to try to catch foul balls and home runs.

85. North Queensland Cowboys mascots. In March I ventured up to the tropics in Townsville, North Queensland to take in my first North Queensland Cowboys NRL game day experience. While the crowd went wild when the Cowboys won in golden point, the other thing that sent the kids in the crowd nuts was the addition of no less than 10 different mascots. It may have actually been even more than 10. They had a mascot for every sponsor as well as the team mascots and the kids were running round the touchline like mad trying to get autographs, photos and high 5’s from these costumed characters. Some were downright hilarious though like the coffee sponsor giraffe that took 20 minutes to get down the stairs even with a minder to the kind of scary looking steak house mascot. All in all it was an interesting observation to watch how the kids interacted with these mascots as well as another creative and fun idea to get the sponsors involved.

 

84. Northern Premier League Division One team Prescott Cables FC gave their fans the chance to ‘Own and Loan’ a team jersey whereby fans could purchase a kit, loan it to the player to wear for the season and then at the end of the season the fan would get the jersey back fully signed by the team.

Prescott Cables 'Own and Loan' jersey

83. MLS team San Jose Earthquakes held a Lego Build day event for young fans to make replica stadiums and forge stronger connections with the team.

82. The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and the Fresno Tacos held the ‘Ultimate Food Fight’ and ‘Bacon Vs Tacos’ match which saws fans vote on various topics with the losing team having to wear their opponents hat in a game. The fan engagement and social media work on the microsite here is worth a look to see what they did for this campaign and I’m sure you’ll agree its as random, quirky, fun and brilliant as the merchandise range.

81. Cricket Australia and KFC Buckethead Army. Thousands of these KFC bucket caps are handed out to fans at the BBL (few pics below from back in January at the MCG) and as part of the current summer of cricket campaign with myself grabbing one at the first Ashes test match at the Gabba in Brisbane last week. A clever way to keep fans cool and stay sun smart while also giving the sponsor maximum branding in the crowd.


80. The Winnipeg Jets announced their new security team member signing. Meet Lenny, a high performance sniffer dog whose joined the NHL team’s venue security detail and was named by supporters in memory of a long time fan.

Winnipeg Jets Security Dog Lenny

79. The Baltimore Ravens debuted Faceware Interactive and Image Metric’s AR Face Kit technology which sees fans have access to a photo real, virtual, face painting experience that seamlessly integrates into the Raven’s mobile app. With around a dozen augmented reality face paints to try on this has proven popular with fans with other teams such as the Chicago Bears also jumping in here too.

Baltimore Ravens AR Face Kit

78. Cricket Australia recently debut their ‘Matchday App‘ which is accessed by their brilliant Live Pass app (if you want an example of an outstanding sports app that does everything from streaming live games to quality content then you have to check theirs out). The Matchday App only works when you’re in close proximity to the game and pops up to show you important event information such as what fan engagement activities are on as well as venue maps, match replays and how to get to the ground. A really impressive little addition to help fans out on the day of a match to show them how to get the most out of their day at the cricket.

77. While many game day giveaways end up scattered outside the stadium such is the poor quality or irrelevance to fans, this growth chart idea from Super Rugby’s Wellington Hurricanes is a prime example of a sponsor branded giveaway that could quite possibly stay hanging up inside a young fans room for years.

Wellington Hurricanes Growth Chart

76. For the 2017/18 NBA season, Nike has released special edition connected jerseys featuring NFC tag technology where fans can tap their jersey to access exclusive player content like stats and player playlists. Soon enough you’ll probably be able to tap your jersey and pay for food and beverage items inside the venue. 

NBA connected jerseys

75. Five of the Western Sydney Wanderers played a match against 50 kids as part of a new partnership. The commentary is as good as the footage here. 


74. Football League two side Notts County in England announced a creative jersey sponsorship deal whereby there would be 10 unique sponsors for each month of the season. A clever way to attract new fans especially with the month of November which featured music star and mega fan Jake Bugg sponsoring the team kit.

73. Fan First Pricing. A common theme at the moment for many mega stadiums is to reduce the cost of F&B items for fans. Some venues to put fans first with cheaper options to ease the cost of a day out included Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Arena which had $2 soft drinks, $5 beers, $2 hot dogs and $5 burgers.

72. The AFL team Geelong Cats debuted their ‘Fan Portal‘ which sees fans enter a private room with a select group of fellow fans, don special socks and gather round to reveal the floor retract to reveal the players below them. Fans are able to watch the team warm up, hear the noise and build up in the sheds before and after the game all from this special money can’t buy vantage point. 

 

71. Dutch football team RKC Waalwijk decided to switch up the traditional player’s entrance by substituting kids for elderly fans as a clever way to draw awareness to the loneliness often felt among older fans and members of society. Sydney FC also had older fans as mascots in an A-League game this year too. 

70. Not to be outdone, Chilean football team Colo-Colo took the field in their game this year with rescue dogs as their mascots to raise dog adoption awareness.

69. Way-Finding. How many times have you been to a venue this year and just wanted to easily be able to get to the loo, see the fan engagement activations or grab some food and drinks but have had to either wait in long lines or dodge around fellow fans just to try to find what you’re looking for? Well this year I’ve been able to see two way-finding set ups that attempt to solve this issue. The first one was at the Sydney Swans huge fan zone outside the Sydney Cricket Ground where there simple sign directs fans to all of the fan activities while the second example is Wait-Time’s way-finding screens which were recently installed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but which have been a feature in US venues for a while now. I’ve only been able to utilise WaitTime at a match with a relatively smaller crowd than usual however found it to be an impressive addition to navigating the MCG. More venues across Australia and the globe will start to see this tech being rolled out for fans soon.

 

68. Cricket Australia’s ‘Cricket Hosts’. A fine addition this summer from CA has been the introduction of the Cricket Hosts who are very much like SLO’s (Supporter Liaison Officer’s) or game day helpers in the US who are on hand to provide game day advice and information to fans as well as answer their questions and get them pumped up for the day’s play. I had a chat to a few of these hosts at The Gabba for the first test and found them very helpful when it came to asking about the fan zone, seating and what else to expect from the day. A really effective solution to have positive smiling people on the ground representing and promoting the brand so that fans have everything they need for the match before they enter the venue.

67. The NFL’s Minnesota Vikings signed a ‘Generation Z’ consultant to help the organization better connect with young people. 18-year-old author and public speaker Jonah Stillman was drafted in with the aim of connecting to the team’s younger audiences through social and other digital means. A clever idea from the Vikings which I know a few other clubs and venues here in Australia are looking at replicating in some capacity.

66. Photo printing backpacks. The NY Mets and marketing technology firm M-ND introduced these ‘interactive, social-media curating- and photo-printing backpacks’ at Citi Field this year that saw fans able to upload a photo to social media and then track down one of the backpack wearing staff to be able to have their photo printed out as a keepsake. 

65. Bayern Munich hosted a press conference of a different kind with their one for the Audi Cup featuring the coaches coming in via hologram for the presser. With musicians like Roy Orbison already touring again in hologram form and the potential for hologram sports matches to be played as part of new broadcasting opportunities in places outside where the real match is taking place, this is sure to be a space to watch in the coming years for fans.


64. The NBA’s Sacramento Kings and Golden One Centre’s augmented reality app in partnership with Zappar and Nike enabled fans this year to give fans a 360-degree look at its new jersey when it was unveiled. The app lets fans personalize Sacramento Kings uniforms and virtually photograph themselves with star players.


63. Quiet sensory room spaces. This year both Liverpool FC and Cleveland Cavaliers debuted quiet spaces and sensory rooms at their venues. The basis for these rooms was to improve accessibility and inclusion for fans with sensory sensitivities such as autism and PTSD. The Cavs Quicken Loans room features calming paint tones, a textured wall, special seating and privacy away from loud noises and crowds. Over at Liverpool’s Anfield, the space includes a sensory portable bubble tube and light unit, fibre optic carpet, a projector and an LED bean bag. A clever idea here from both venues and teams to ensure that all fans, regardless of their diverse needs, are made to feel included and comfortable on match day.

62. Craft Beer. A common feature for teams and venues in recent times has been to jump on the craft beer wagon and provide a better beer experience for their fans who wish to sample local and independent brews. 2017 has been no different with many clubs and stadiums collaborating with craft breweries to establish partnerships with the local community and provide craft beer on match days or for other events in specialised craft beer bars. While below touches on some of these developments from my part of the world in Australia and New Zealand there have also been many others across the globe who have listened to their supporters to supply craft beer. Some of the developments include:

  • Essendon Bombers AFL: Partnership with CBCO
  • Westpac Stadium, NZ: Garage Project and NZ All Whites collab beer plus Wellington Phoenix sideline bar
  • The Precinct: Suncorp Stadium’s new bar featuring Little Creatures/Rogers (Yes not technically craft beer anymore)
  • Lords Cricket Ground: Craft beers on tap in general bar areas. Got to try a few of these back in April thanks to some very positive but bored public bar staff during a rain break between Essex and Middlesex.
  • Harrowgate Town FC: Collab craft beer
  • Melbourne Aces ABL: American craft beers on tap at the Victorian Baseball and Softball Centre
  • Melbourne City A-League: Partnership with Stomping Ground Brewing
  • West Ham United: The Olympic Stadium features a variety of craft beers on tap including Boleyn Bitter and West Ham Iron Ale
  • Central Coast Mariners A-League: Coastie Lager collab with 6 String Brewing
  • Canberra Raiders: Bentspoke Brewing on tap at Canberra Stadium
  • North Sydney Oval: Craft beers on tap in main stand bar
  • South Sydney NRL: Craft beers on tap
  • Adelaide Oval: Little Creatures/Rogers on tap- again purists will argue this is not craft

 

61. Pitch-side beds. Two of the stand outs this year for pitch-side experiences were the partnership that Allianz Arena and AirBNB did for the Audi Cup and also Old Trafford‘s partnership with Hilton Hotel.

Allianz Arena enabled some lucky fans to stay overnight in the stadium for two days and one night during the Audi Cup 2017. The modern and spacious accommodation was built directly on the sideline of the field, so fans could watch four games of world-class football from the most comfortable couch during the tournament.

Meanwhile at the Emirates Old Trafford a Hilton Hotel opened up that included 80 odd pitch-side rooms that provided cricket fans with a unique vantage point to take in the days play. Taking it one step further they rolled out some beds for another creative pitch-side viewing experience.

60. DROPIT developed an interactive app which connects teams and sponsors with their fans via in-game, 60-second drop auctions aiming to generate heightened excitement inside the venue. The app aims to deliver on both fan and brand engagement with immersive, digitally connected social experiences that combine the pace of a video game and the excitement of a live auction. I wrote a bit about this start up earlier in the year having been impressed with what I saw. They have since gone on to sign with an NBA team and other venues are also interested in adding this to the game day. Tech start ups come and go so it will be interesting to see how this goes in 2018 and beyond. What do you think though?


59. All the times teams listened to their fans in 2017. Below is obviously a small snapshot of some of the stories that went viral this year but certainly show the value of both players and teams listening to their fans. Whether it be a kid who writes to a player as part of his school work and then has the player visit to a player who offered to have a kick around with young fans in the park to going door to door with pizza to rally fans to get out to support the team nothing shows you value your fans more than listening to them and interacting in creative and positive ways for them. What else did you see this year?

58. Was this 2017’s best game day giveaway? 5000 cricket bats with player Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s signature on them were given out to every child attending the ICC Women’s World Cup final at Lord’s in July. What good game day giveaways did you see this year?

57. A-League team the Wellington Phoenix established a new diversity program in partnership with the Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and Multicultural New Zealand. As part of the inclusion program, former refugees in the region were offered a season ticket for the 2017/18 season in recognition of the important role sport plays in building bridges between individuals and across communities. An inclusive way from the Phoenix and stakeholders here to acquire new life long members and bring the community closer together.

56. Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia 76ers announced a new addition to their concession stands by adding the Australian meat pie to honour Australian player Ben Simmons in what was the first international commercial arrangement for the team. The 76ers ‘Australia Heritage Night’ plans also sound like a creative way to highlight Australia, Simmons and the Four and Twenty partnership. A clever idea to provide something unique here to fans on match days in the venue which they certainly can’t get anywhere else in Philadelphia or the US.

55. Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium. After all the hype over the past couple of years the stadium finally opened this year and fans were not left disappointed by the fan experience features of the new venue. From the impressive halo screen and the fan first pricing on a range of F&B items to the state of the art retractable roof and the mega LED screen column this was the stadium that made the most noise in the industry this year. Looking forward to attending a game there soon. Optus Perth Stadium to step it up in 2018!


54. These ‘XXXX Gold Bay’ seat covers at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (Gabba) for the first ASHES cricket test match were a nice idea for fans to store their phones, sunnies and any other items. The fan section seat covers also came with small personalised fans which when plugged into your phone’s power socket provided some much needed fresh air.  In the back of the seats was also a bandana which when taken to the XXXX Gold staff could be exchanged for an ice cold one from an esky which was no doubt keeping fans cool.

53. Hiroshima Carp’s wearables cheer wristband. Fans of the Japanese baseball team Hiroshima Toyo Carp were able to add to their fan experience with this new wristband from Sharp this year. The device displays the current scores of games of the team with a built-in motion sensor sensing the movements of the arms of the carp fans wearing the band which is then interpreted as a “cheering action” that causes the smart-band to vibrate and the LEDs to illuminate to support the cheering. Fans are able to accumulate the “cheering action” as “cheering points” and use it to vote for player’s of the match as well as to interact with other fans.

52. AS Roma’s farewell to Totti and fan controlled videos. While AS Roma partnered with SmartReplay in 2017 to become the first football club to roll out a video experience which enables fans to control what they wanted to watch they also executed a social first content and media strategy to use Facebook Live to stream Totti’s farewell to a global audience and share the emotion in the stadium with fans all over the world. This resulted in over 12M views for the farewell speech and 73M views overall.


51. Sunderland AFC’s kit launch. The Sunderland kit launch featured a Facebook Live stream with two amateur football teams (Dawdon Welfare Park FC and Hall Farm Glasshus FC) taking to the field at Ashbrooke Cricket Club, one of Sunderland’s former homes, to play in a match to both promote the new jersey and get fans passionate about the club’s heritage. The campaign was so successful it even won a Football Business award.


50. These inflatable foam team and sponsor logos here from Atlanta based company Atlanta Special FX. Used on match day at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium these Cloudvertise eco friendly ‘Helium Soap’ 3D Logo Bubloon Clouds are certainly something new and exciting for fans on match day this year.


49. Never one to do things by the book, the Newtown Jet’s have continued to put on some very good events  for fans at Henson Park in Sydney over the past few years with their Hipster’s Day again proving to be a roaring success this year in attracting new fans and families. Featuring kids activities, food vans and craft beer, a day on the hill here is a must here especially to see the rise in attendances especially amongst families and females fans.

48. Brighton Hove and Albion FC’s personalised emails to fans. This year BHAFC sent out these personalised emails to every member at the end of the season showing them how many miles they had covered in the season as well as games attended and the special moments of the past season which saw the team promoted to the Premier League. An impressive albeit time consuming CRM effort that resulted in plenty of fan admiration for the Brighton digital, membership and fan engagement team.

47. Cricket Australia announced plans to enable fans the ability to live stream all of the 2017-18 summer of cricket action on Qantas planes in Australia which are fitted with Wi-Fi.  Most people like to be able to switch off from Wi-Fi while 10-30,000 feet up in the air however this announcement and partnership will no doubt delight many cricket mad fans who can now ensure they don’t miss any of the action.

46. The NBA Augmented Reality app. The ability to set up a team personalised set of hoops anywhere in the world and then tap your phone as if you’re taking a shot to play basketball was another impressive jump into AR for the NBA this year. The successful launch of the NBA AR app in October with this game that sees fans shoot three pointers in their own unique court set up is just another way the NBA and other major sports leagues are getting deeper into engaging fans with new technologies like augmented reality. 

45. Blatchy’s Blues SMARTWiG’s. The story of the State of Origin Blatchy’s Blues fan group is a success story in itself having been started and grown by a fan into a massive fan group that was then sold on to the NSWRL. The sheer fact that this group could get 10-15K fans to wear a blue wig at matches is credit to the team behind Blatchy’s but this year they stepped it up another level with STAR’s involvement to allow fans to have these SMARTWiG’s to include an LED antenna which lit up bright blue at ANZ Stadium back in June which created an incredible atmosphere. The SMARTWiG’s also enabled fans at the game to be able to listen in to 6 hours of Blatchy’s Blues Radio as well as receive exclusive radio access to the Blues’ dressing sheds with coach Laurie Daley and players talking directly to the Blues’ most loyal fans.

44. NFL Experience at Houston Super Bowl 51. If there was ever the ultimate fan engagement theme park, the NFL Experience in Houston earlier this year would be close to epitomising what it could be. This was an incredible spectacle of activations, sponsor activities, tech wonders and giveaways worthy of the greatest showbag you’ve ever picked up. I spent about 7 hours here wandering around and checking out all of the activities such as making an NFL helmet, viewing the latest in female fan gear, playing video games and sampling loads of American foods and drinks from sponsors. Thousands of fans ventured through the Houston Convention Centre for a week leading up to the Super Bowl and for abour $35USD they were able to visit the 100+ stalls here and participate in all of these fun activities. This has easily been the greatest fan engagement fan zone spectacle I have seen in all my time venturing across the globe to check and it is a must visit if you want to learn about best practice fan engagement. Sure the Super Bowl was fantastic to go to but in my opinion this was better!

 

43. Sometimes (and it’s actually more often than not) its just the simple and small things that can go a long way to improving fan satisfaction, increase loyalty and provide some quality fan engagement along the way. This was the case this year as can be seen below where FC Schalke played one of Ajax fans’ favourite tunes over the tannoy’s after their loss to Schalke. A nice and simple thing to do for travelling fans after a heavy loss.

42. Perth Glory have consistently been one of the most well performing teams in the A-League when it comes to fan engagement. From their petting zoo, free fruit flavoured water station and member’s fan wall the Glory have gone above and beyond for fans in recent times to show that they are listening to them. One activation that stood out this year was this smoothie station which allowed fans to pedal a stationary bicycle which in turn created a smoothie for themselves while they watched the game at NIB Stadium. 

41. In what was one of the most uplifting fan engagement stories from 2017, the work of the Iowa Hawkeyes whose fans, players and game officials all turn and wave to sick children in the hospital adjacent to their 70k capacity Kinnick stadium made many people smile at what is such a simple but moving gesture. The Hawkeyes said of the tradition: “What started as a fan suggestion on an Iowa Facebook fan page has turned into a full-blown movement: Iowa fans collectively waving to the top floor of the hospital, where the children and their families gather to watch Iowa, at the end of the first quarter during Hawkeye home games.”


40. The Australian Baseball League’s Melbourne Aces gave fans the chance to have a dinner date with one of their star players at a game this season and judging by the image it looks like a pretty fun and simple concept following the completion of the match. 

39. The NHL’s New York Rangers rode the subway in full gear earlier in December to a fan day and outdoor practice in Central Park. The players snapped selfies with fans on the journey into the city and found time to chat with young fans as part of this simple bit of fun by the team. 

38. eSports/Esports/ESports/esports. The proliferation of teams jumping into the esports space in 2017 showed no slowing down with global teams continuing to invest in either pro gamers and individual teams as well as set up high performance centres in venues. In 2017 esports was questioned as to whether or not it was actually a sport, was considered for the Olympics, had players buying into it and leaving traditional sports to become gamers and filled out 80,000 seat stadiums in China with events. The ability for sports stakeholders to tap into esports represents a new opportunity to win new fans and audiences to increase attendances, presents new revenue opportunities and is a broadcasting delight for media. Oh and by the way according to AP the correct spelling is ‘esports’. 

Some of the big esports developments from the sports business world this year included:

  • Sacramento Kings unveiling a new esports facility inside their venue.
  • The SCG established a high performance centre. 
  • Essendon FC bought the Abyss team.
  • Adelaide Crows acquired the Legacy esports team. 
  • Melbourne City signed an esports player. 
  • Seattle Sounders set up an esports gaming fan zone at their stadium. 
  • West Ham United ran a training session with their player to help other FIFA gamers up their skills.
  • The rise of esports fan groups continued, namely Hashtag United. 
  • QPRFC launched their own esports team. 
  • Adelaide United FC ran tutorials for fans.
  • In the MLS, NYCFC signed the first esports player. 
  • The FA Cup Gamers Tournament continued it’s successful run. 
  • Dutch side Eredivisie were the first to launch a league-wide esports competition.
  • Puskas winner Wendall quit football to become a pro-gamer. 

Another of the more intriguing spaces to watch in the coming years to see how teams and leagues fill stadiums for combined matches of esports and traditional sports where teams will battle each other in both worlds. 

37. . Rafa Nadal surprising fans in virtual reality (kind of) was a fun idea from this sponsor.

36. Cricket had a big year when it came to introducing interesting new content but so too did Twitter who in partnership with the ICC and IPL debuted a host of interesting content. The Indian Premier League debuted player emoji’s which were a hit with fans across the tournament. At the ICC Champions Trophy there was a host of new features such as the #AskCaptain series where fans could tweet in a question to the captains while fans could also opt in to receive personalised direct messages featuring score updates and video content. There was also a live commentary box stream on Twitter and the debut of the first female cricket emoji’s too.

35. freeD Technology VisionWith fans crying out for more diverse and unique camera angles to play back and view game plays and live action this new freeD virtual reality technology offers a pretty cool new viewing perspective for fans. With more than thirty 5K cameras surrounding each venue, the Intel® freeD™ technology delivers the clearest high-def images possible. This technology uses voxels (pixels with volume) to render replays in spectacular 3D, creating a multi-perspective view of key moments. The NFL used this tech this season to deliver new viewing experiences to fans with the use of VR and their 360 degree replay technology. 

34. Hackathons. There’s been a trend in the past year for sports business stakeholders to engage their fans and in particular those with data skills to help them do a deeper dive into the team data to improve their processes. Teams like Bayern Munich are “collaborating in teams to work on technical, business and design problems and develop innovative and creative software to build prototypes and come up with new ideas and approaches” to improve the fan experience. The NRL cracked open its stats to data experts and held a DataJam to “identify new trends and ways to visualise game play, participation levels, entertainment value and more” while MCFC collaborated with Google to hold their second hackathon event called #HackManCity which was designed to unlock new fan engagement ideas and ways of doing more innovative business.

33. The Brisbane Cricket Ground (Gabba) Pool Deck. Jacksonville’s Everbank Field has a pool and now the Gabba has one too. When I did the 2016 100-1 compilation last year I touched on this briefly however the final product was not yet ready. However last month I was able to visit the pool deck area at the Gabba for the first ASHES cricket test match and was blown away at what a unique, fun and slightly random fan experience this was for fans. The pool deck sits in an open area of the ground directly facing the pitch so fans are able to either sit at nice tables or on deckchairs or if they fancy they can take a dip in the pool and sit with fellow fans to take in all the action. Fans are allowed to take drinks into the area and are given a free towel to dry off with after a swim. The area provides free sunscreen and is patrolled by experienced lifeguards as well as being cleaned after every two hour session making it one of the cleanest pools in Australia. If you didn’t have any togs on you then they were also selling pairs to fans to change into before a swim. To think back to being a kid and watching cricket at the Gabba that one day I would be able to watch Steve Smith score his 21st century from a stadium pool is a crazy thought but it again shows how venues are pulling out all the stops to create unique seating and viewing experiences for patrons. To see more of the pool deck in action be sure to follow the BBL Brisbane Heat this summer as the pool will be in action again at the Gabba during those games.

32. NFC and RFID Chips. Finding their way into more and more of the sports world over the past year, these two different but related types of chips, NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) are adding more insights for fans from broadcasters in terms of statistics and player data.

Some better explanations of the two chips too:

NFC: A short-range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices.

RFID: A method of wireless communication that utilizes radio waves to identify and track objects.

Some of the developments with these chips and tags over the past year have included:

  • NFL installing RFID chips in every match ball to provide statistics for broadcasters and in turn fans.
  • NBA’s connected jerseys. Mentioned previously in this list. 
  • MLB enabling faster seamless access to venues by tapping their phone on ticket scanners. 
  • PROVA preventing the fraudulent sale of sports merch through NFC authentic tracking tags. 
  • Levis Stadium speeding up sales via NFC payments.
  • The unveiling of the new FIFA World Cup 2018 ball that features an NFC chip that fans can engage with to access exclusive content and information. 
  • These smart connected winter gloves for payments at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics which allow fans to use their gloves and keep warm to make payments at the venues next year.
  • Catapult Sports provided these new RFID player tracking devices for the 2017 NRL State Of Origin series.  
31. Trophy Tour. Welsh Premier League team Prestatyn Town FC took their trophy on a tour of the town and of the local businesses that supported them in the past season as a thank you. While there’s trophy tours for fans this was a novel approach to reward sponsors and fans of the team in the town who had helped out over the course of the season. 
30. Altrincham FC‏ asked local children to design a jersey that celebrated the diversity in the community an were overwhelmed with the response. There were also some other impressive work for fans here such as how they set up a WhatsApp broadcast list to keep fans connected straight to their mobiles as well as launching their own 5-a-side fantasy sports platform. A team well worth checking out as they’re putting fans at the forefront of all their activations here. 
29. Premier League side Southampton FC created this 80’s style animation with Under Armour to launch their 2017/18 kit design. The #MadeForHeroes cartoon was both a clever way to showcase Southampton’s digital prowess as well as launch the new kit and target young fans at the same time. 


28. Meet and Greet. Fans often complain that they’re never listened to or that their views are not taken seriously because clubs and leagues simply just don’t want to engage with them. The truth is that this couldn’t be further from reality in the majority of cases as many sports teams often host fan forums where fans can express their views in a constructive manner but also have systems in place to allow dialogue between fans and the club. One such team that did this well this year was the NBA’s Denver Nuggets who held a fan meet and greet with their President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly at a Denver beer pub. While some fans were also lucky enough to grab some tickets it also represented an opportunity for them to ask questions of the business. 

27. The Los Angeles Angels hosted an introductory press conference for fans by the home plate gate entrance of Angel Stadium to showcase their new player Shohei Ohtani. #ShoheiDay came complete with a red carpet entrance and merch for sale right there and then for fans. 

26. The Baltimore Ravens offered fans the chance to have their cars stencilled in bright purple colours as a way for them to rep the team in the lead up to the new NFL season. 

 

25. The fan engagement at AZ Alkmaar. One of the most impressive fan engagement experts around is Bas Schnater who with his team runs the fan engagement and CRM ship at Dutch professional football club AZ Alkmaar and who deeply understands the importance of listening and engaging with fans. Bas and his team’s work for fans here is up there with some of the best practice fan engagement seen this year. From baby photo day’s, junior press conferences and a golden seat to the first fan who renews their membership to listening to fan feedback to change the stadium speaker system and even allowing a section of hardcore fans to light flares in a designated zone this is fan engagement done superbly well and which continues to reap rewards for the team with increased attendances. Everyone should keep this team on your radar as they continue to push the boundaries of creativity and put fans first in every aspect of the club’s business both on and off the field. 

24. Accessible inclusive all gender rest rooms and nursing rooms. Many venues across the sporting globe are improving the fan experience by ensuring that every fan feels welcome and can attend a game and feel safe. There has been the rise of venues such as Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center adding accessible all gender toilets which has received high praise from the LGBT community for building the world’s first entertainment and sports arena to fully accommodate transgender fans. Furthermore Fenway Park and Avaya Stadium have also installed Mamava nursing suites which provide fans with a private safe area for breastfeeding and baby changing because why should any fan miss attending a game. Expect to see more of these throughout global sporting venues through 2018 as venues continue to go above and beyond to provide the best experience for attendees.

23. ASK FRED. The Wimbledon chat bot ‘Fred’ was a big hit for fans this year as it guided tennis fans around England’s historic lawn tennis competition earlier in 2017. The Fred bot gave ticket holders information about dining options, featured a natural language interface and also included an interactive map of the venue.

22. Detroit Pistons allowing fans to take a shot on the court after the game. Kids sign up pre-game and are allowed one shot at the completion of the game. A nice and simple way to collect data via the kids club sign up and then give these young fans a moment to remember. Why is this not done in other sports for just 30 minutes after a game? Kick the ball through the net? Kick a place kick etc? Would be good to see more of this in other sports. 

21. Valentines Day cards. There’s always an opportunity to have some fun with fans on social and while some teams have these Valentines Day cards for that special day, some teams even send out the mascots to go visit girls and guys all over town which is a good use of the mascot outside game day and a revenue opportunity that is not utilised enough.

 

20. NCAA Volleyball projected tweets on court. A clever idea here for game day and to showcase the best fan tweets.

19. Everton FC’s kit consultation. A good way to show fans that the team is listening to them by having fans have their say on what the kit should look like.

18. CLEAR fast access biometric security screening. This tech continues to be rolled out at venues across the US and allows fans to scan their fingerprint to gain faster priority entry to the venue. While fans could be alarmed with the personal data and privacy issues and the fact that the tech tracks fans’ behavior and purchasing habits it’s ‘clear’ that many fans see no issue with this and are happy to use these priority lines to scan their iris or fingerprint as it’s enables them to avoid long lines and skip the queues.

17. Snapchat Specs. I wrote earlier in the year about the Snap Specs and how teams were using these after picking up a pair in NYC in January and enjoying them throughout much of the year for various activities plus lending them to teams and players down here in Australia. Everyone in the industry raved about them and I loved using them but they just didn’t catch on and were a spectacular failure for Snap. A few of the points I raised in my blog here back in March proved accurate however like 2016’s Pokemon Go craze the Specs did represent another fun period where teams and digital managers all jumped in and created some pretty cool perspectives and content with them. It goes to show that the quality and passion that team digital managers have when it comes to creating interesting content and jumping on new technologies is something more fans should be appreciative of. There were plenty of cool ideas for what teams did with Specs this year and it’s still worthwhile checking out the creativity and ideas here from this short lived fad.

16. BVB #BedForAwayFans. In the lead up to the BVB vs AS.Monaco Champions League match the Borussia Dortmund bus was bombed. The match was postponed to the next day meaning that AS.Monaco fans needed to find accommodation. Therefore in a show of what the global football community and spirit is all about the BVB fans and team started the hashtag #BedForAwayFans which brought fans from both sides closer together to house those fans before the match could be played.

15. NZ Warriors Stadium Live app. The Stadium Live for Vodafone Warriors App took fans at Vodafone Warriors home games right into the thick of game day action, with exclusive access to eight SKY camera angles to stream footage, replays and highlights LIVE from their mobile device. Fans are crying out to be able to see diverse and interesting camera angles and replays while at matches and with the new developments in AR in the MLB and with FreeD tech this is going to be a big area for fans in the coming months.

14. The Vegas Golden Knights embedded inaugural season ticket holders names on the ice at TMobile Arena. The NHL’s 33rd team also had players go door to door to deliver tickets and while the venue is mobile only for ticketing they ensured that all fans got a commemorative ticket on the opening night. Fans were even able to receive a free jersey as part of their membership which they collected at a special ‘Jersey Night’ at the venue.

13. The NFL Experience in Times Square, NYC. A sports fans museum/ playground/theme park in the centre of New York showcasing all the latest in innovative technology from the NFL.

12. Social media bingo. A nice way for fans to play along at home with these two good examples from the BBL’s Hobart Hurricanes and the NBA’s Washington Wizards.

11. Philadelphia Eagles NFL Football Festival For Women. The Eagles are just one of a plethora of teams across the US who do these female festivals really well. In 2017 the Eagles football festival for female fans was one that stood out due to the sheer scale and range of activities for this important set of fans. Some other great examples of what US teams are doing for their female supporters include football training camps, fantasy camps, wine/dine events, football health and safety events for mums and fitness and health sessions which is highlighting that many of these teams are listening more to their fans and moving away from the ‘shrinking and pinking’ idea to actually provide more worthwhile events that female fans want, especially that relate to the game. It was also good to see at the Super Bowl this year the dedicated NFL female fans merch tent while other sports across the globe are now offering female cuts of player jerseys for the first time such as the BBL in Australia. 

10. Mascots can be quite tame most of the time but this one from Japan’s Pacific Baseball League caused a few headlines this year. Chiba Lotte Marines introduced the “mystery fish” which spits out a human during games this year. Taking mascots to another level…..

9. Toronto Wolfpack fan engagement. The rise of the Wolfpack’s massive attendances, celebrated game day set up and overall quality fan experience was one of the highlights of 2017’s year in fan engagement. From their beer cans with fixtures on them to their cruise and the way they rewarded fans by constantly bringing them closer to the action this year was outstanding to see. Their after party events at the ground where players from both Toronto and the opposing team were invited in and they could drink with Toronto locals and away fans that had made the trip was a nice touch too.

8. The NRL’s Canberra Raiders have greatly improved their attendances on the back of bringing fans more of a united atmosphere on game days. The work of their Viking Clap has been so good that this year they unveiled a viking horn or ‘Gjallarhorn‘ at their stadium in Canberra to add to this game day atmosphere before kick off.


7. Steve Waugh augmented reality experience at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust has partnered with Steve Waugh and Avanade to create an augmented reality experience to celebrate 15 years since Steve Waugh’s famous last-ball century at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In a first of its kind by any Australian stadium or sports body, the Steve Waugh AR experience allows fans to immerse themselves into one of Australian Test cricket’s most memorable innings.
The experience features commentary by Steve Waugh, an animated simulation of his shots recreated in the Avanade studio and short grabs of footage of his innings provided by the Nine Network’s Wide World of Sports.


6. Sports subscription boxes. The subscription box industry has exploded in 2017 with everything from craft beer to household goods now being able to be added to a subscription box service that sees buyers get a special mystery box of goods every month. The sports business has been quick to jump into this space too with the work of SportsCrate standing out in 2017. SportsCrate  is a fan-centered box launching with items targeting ten MLB teams. It’s also the league’s exclusive licensed subscription box. Expect to see more of this merchandise option in 2018 and beyond.

5. Arsenal FC held a Junior Gunners night  which saw a number of young members take on various roles in the stadium and with the team over the course of the match. Junior Gunner fans were able to hang out with a photographer, grounds person, media team and take on various roles with their buddy. 

4. Golden State Warriors replica trophy night. In terms of game day giveaways for fans this replica trophy from the GSW after their 2017 NBA Finals success certainly represented a collectable for fans and one that wouldn’t be thrown away when leaving the venue. 

3. The continued rise of subscription passes which are becoming a popular new form of ticketing. An example of this in 2017 was the work that the Oakland A’s did with their June-September $19.99 monthly pass. For only $19.99 per month, the Athletics Ballpark Pass includes mobile access to every 2017 regular season home game with the benefits including:

  • Guaranteed access to every game*, including high-demand and weekend games
  • Ease of delivery via the MLB.com Ballpark app – scan your personal mobile barcode directly from your phone
  • Auto-renews each month
  • Pass holders had access to enjoy all the great new features of the Coliseum during the game including Championship Plaza and Shibe Park Tavern.

Will we start to see more teams and venues go down this path in the coming years?

2. The nice gesture from A-League’s Melbourne Victory giving out $10 to every fan travelling to the A-League Grand Final in Sydney back in May. A small and simple outlay with a nicely personalised letter that went a long way for fans. 

1. WWE and KidZania launched a new fan experience in London which is the first-ever WWE Academy and an exciting new activity designed to entertain young WWE fans in the United Kingdom. The WWE Academy is a fully-branded experiential space within the city of KidZania London, where children can transform into a WWE Superstar. The area is designed to promote creative thinking and imagination where kids can become their favourite WWE Superstars and with the help of a KidZania referee, kids can choose from a range of WWE props and ring gear, practice their own catchphrases, develop a persona and create a promo video.

This brings an end to my 2017 fan engagement/experience 100-1 recap for 2017. What a year it has been for fans across the globe and for all the hard working teams providing these initiatives and ideas for their supporters.  As always there’s probably a good 100 odd ideas I’ve missed which could have also made the cut so this list is to be taken as a very general run down on some of the work which I thought really got people talking this year, were creative and innovative ideas or which I saw on my travels and thought they needed to be highlighted.  

I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it useful and I hope that you have a relaxing holiday season and time with your friends and family. 

Thanks

Club by Club: 2016 NRL Fan Engagement and Fan Experience Activations

The 2016 National Rugby League season gets underway this week and fans across Australia and New Zealand are gearing up for what will be another exciting season of rugby league action on the field.

Conversely, there is plenty going on off the field as the teams all look to find new and creative ways to engage with their members both in the stadium and online.

I have put together a quick list of what each of the NRL clubs are doing to improve the fan experience in 2016 and it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of exciting fan engagement activations taking place at whichever club you support.

Have you seen something else that your club is doing to improve the match day and digital fan experience? Hit me up and I’ll add it to the list.

NRL

The NRL Bunker is a new addition to the match day coverage that is the most state-of-the-art video referral technology in Australian sport and is set to revolutionise the game’s decision review system and provide a better viewing experience for fans.

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Fantasy offers fans:

  • Over $350,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs
  • Winner claims $15,000 and the official NRL Fantasy Champions ring.
  • Enjoy match day Thursday’s and new interactive polling page
NRL Fantasy Ring

NRL Fantasy Ring

Brisbane Broncos

The Bronc’s had one of Brisbane’s City Cat’s decorated in their colours.

Broncos

Broncos

The free Broncos app features:

– An iOS design theme & layout optimised for the latest iPhone & iPad devices.
– Push Notifications to keep you updated with breaking news, score alerts & match info.

As well as News – Videos – Photo Galleries – Season Draw By Month / By Round (upload every Broncos game to your device calendar) – NRL & NYC Ladders – Team & Player Stats – Broncos Twitter (team & player accounts) – Match Tickets – Broncos Website – Broncos Membership – Broncos Superstore – Community – NRL Fantasy – NRL Tipping.

Broncos App

Broncos App

Broncos App

Canterbury Bulldogs

‘The Breed’ is the new match day activation from the Bulldogs with the club revealing each of these players through fan’s Instagram accounts.
The fans favourite Bulldogs players have been turned into Superheroes, showcasing their unique skills and reflecting their strong personalities and traits. More here The Breed

Cb35JkgUsAASR_e Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.34.37 am Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.34.09 am

Canterbury fans can also pick up free posters.

Bulldogs

Bulldogs

The  Dogs of Rewards loyalty program is worth a look to see how the club rewards fans.

The dogs have the ’18th Jersey Honour Roll’ which is a giant 18 jersey that will be displayed at the northern end of all Bulldogs home games at ANZ Stadium as a permanent reminder to every one of the contribution of Bulldogs fans.

Bulldogs 18 Jersey Honour Roll

Bulldogs 18 Jersey Honour Roll

The updated Bulldogs App features:

– Match highlights
– Picture galleries from every game
– Latest news, table and fixtures
– Push notifications for breaking news and live score updates
– Player profiles

Bulldogs App

Bulldogs App

Canberra Raiders

The raiders have run a comp for fans to design the team jersey.

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders Jersey Design Comp

Canberra Raiders Jersey Design Comp

Raiders members can also get their names on the banner that the team runs through each game.

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders

The Raiders app features:

  • Access to the latest Raiders news, videos and photo galleries
  • 2015 Telstra Premiership draw and fixtures presented in a round or calendar format
  • Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and NYC
  • Full squad list with player profiles
  • Push notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates
  • Access to all Raiders related sites, including membership and ticketing
Raiders App

Raiders App

Fans can follow the Raiders on SnapChat too.

Raiders on SnapChat

Raiders on SnapChat

North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys have held a community day for fans.

NQ Cowboys

NQ Cowboys

The Cowboys have ‘Full Time: Field Time’ at the end of every home game where fans can play on the field. Full Time Field Time

The free NQ Cowboys App features:

  • A brand new design and layout optimised for all Android Smartphone (2.3+) and Tablet (4.1+) devices
  • Access to the latest team news, videos and photo galleries
  • Telstra Premiership draw and fixtures presented in a round or calendar format
  • Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and NYC
  • Full squad list with player profiles
  • Push notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates
  • Integrated Twitter feeds from the official team and player accounts
  • Access to all team-related sites, including membership, Cowboys Team Shop and ticketing

Melbourne Storm

The Storm have launched their 2016 Lightning Rewards program which is the best Australian sports fan rewards program. More info here Lightning Rewards

Lightning Rewards

Lightning Rewards

Storm 'Lightning Rewards'

Storm ‘Lightning Rewards’

Melbourne Storm 'Lightning Rewards'

Melbourne Storm ‘Lightning Rewards’

As part of Lightning Rewards, users will accrue points during the season for completing actions online, as well as earning points on game day at AAMI Park. As you build up your points balance, you will hit new reward levels.  At each level, a new reward will be made available to you.  The higher the level, the better the reward!

Lightning Rewards is a loyalty program designed to reward all of our loyal members. In 2016 the Storm have some great new additions, including following your favourite players live in-game stats to help you earn points!

The Storm offer training tips for fans here: Storm Training Tips

The new look Storm app and their SnapChat account are also worth a look. Storm SnapChat and Storm App

Storm App

Storm App

Storm SnapChat

Storm SnapChat

Melbourne also called on members to be apart of their biggest ever TV commercial.

Melbourne Storm

Melbourne Storm

The Storm have also held a member’s day as have many of the other NRL clubs.

Storm Family Day

Storm Family Day

New Zealand Warriors

Warriors fans had a chance to feature in the team photo.

NZ Warriors

NZ Warriors

Memories of the Vodafone Warriors’ stellar 2002 season have been evoked with the release of the club’s heritage strip for the 2016 NRL season produced by club sponsor Canterbury of New Zealand.

NZ Warriors

NZ Warriors

South Sydney Rabbitohs 

Souths held a mystery player signing session which is a bit of a clever idea to draw the fans/members out.

Souths

Souths

Souths fans can win an exciting fan experience by having the opportunity to hang out in the player’s enclosure during matches in 2016.

Souths

Souths

Souths have a ’Ticket Frenzy’ offer for fans to win free tickets.

Souths

Souths

The SS junior fan zone is a digital site for young fans that features memory and colouring in games. Check it out here: Souths Junior Fan Zone

Souths

Souths

Parramatta Eels

Parra let fans change up their Facebook profile pics by adding a blue and yellow over their pic.

Parramatta Eels

Parramatta Eels

The Eels are offering fans deals for special days like Valentines Day and after match wins.

Eels

Eels

Parramatta have held a Blue and Gold Army Festival fan day where free posters were also given out to fans. More info on the Blue and Gold army can be found here Blue and Gold Army

Parramatta

Parramatta

Eels

Eels

Eels fans can nab $5 match day parking for all home games.

Parra parking

Parra parking

The Eels have flag raisers as well for each home game.

Eels Flag Bearers

Eels Flag Bearers

Young fans have the opportunity to be a junior Eels reporter as well. Junior Eels Reporter

Eels Junior Reporter

Eels Junior Reporter

The team also have a playlist for each home game as voted on by the fans. This was the 2015 playlist:

Parramatta Eels Playlist

Parramatta Eels Playlist

Parra held a ‘Member’s Only’ opportunity to have member’s pictures taken with the Auckland Nines trophy.

Parra

Parra

The Eels are also calling on fans to wear and share their Blue and Gold colours on social media and get behind #BGFridays where fans can win passes to matches and other prizes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.38.32 am

The Sparky’s Brigade allows young fans to participate in digital activities as seen here: Eels Junior Fan’s Site

Parramatta Eels

Parramatta Eels

The free Eels app features include:

– A brand new design theme and layout optimised for the iPhone 5 and iPad devices ;
– Access to the latest team News, Videos and Photo Galleries;
– 2015 Telstra Premiership Draw and Fixtures presented in a round or calendar format;
– Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and Holden Cup;
– Full squad list with Player Profiles;
– Push Notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates;
– Integrated Twitter feeds from the official team and player accounts; and
– Access to all team related sites, including Membership, Merchandise Store, Ticketing, Events Calendar and many more!

Parramatta App

Parramatta App

Sydney Roosters

Easts fans can win their place in the team photo.

Roosters

Roosters

The Roosters app offers:

– A brand new design theme and layout optimised for the iPhone 6 and iPad devices ;
– Access to the latest team News, Videos and Photo Galleries;
– 2016 Telstra Premiership Draw and Fixtures presented in a round or calendar format;
– Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and Holden Cup;
– Full squad list with Player Profiles;
– Push Notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates;
– Integrated Twitter feeds from the official team and player accounts; and
– Access to all team related sites, including Membership, Merchandise Store, Ticketing, Events Calendar and many more!

Roosters App

Roosters App

The Roosters loyalty program recognises the importance of our Members and how valued your commitment is to the club.
Read more at Roosters Loyalty Program

The Roosters have held open training sessions for fans and have pushed out information for fans on how to sync their calendars to when games are on with a fixture list.

Roosters

Roosters

Roosters Open Training Session

Roosters Open Training Session

Roosters

Roosters

Fans can learn how to make healthy recipes as part of the Raw-C program seen here Roosters Healthy Eating Recipes

Roosters

Roosters

Roosters free legal advice for fans from club sponsor

Roosters Legal Advice

Roosters Legal Advice

Wests Tigers

The Tigers held a free trial game for fans.

Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers

The Tigers have free wallpapers for fans to download as well here Wests Tigers free wallpapers

The Tigers app offers fans all the news, videos, photo galleries, draw and results, ladders, statistics, match day information, tickets, online shopping and much more. Wests Tigers App

Wests Tigers are also having themed games throughout the 2016 season. More info here Wests Tigers to adopt themes for all home games in 2016 in bid to boost engagement with fans

Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers

St George Illawarra Dragons

Dragons fans can bid on player worn gear as well as partake in social media chats with players.

Dragons Bids

Dragons Bids

Dragons Bids

Dragons Bids

SGI members can also have their name featured on the member’s wall.

Dragons

Dragons

The free Dragons app offers live stats and more like:

  • Latest Dragons and NRL News
  • Dragons TV – interviews and entertainment
  • Daily News Wire – media, gossip and opinion
  • Draws, Results and Ladder for NRL and NYC
  • Player profiles and statistics
  • Up to the minute Push Notifications
  • Press conferences and match highlights
  • Dragons Twitter feed
  • Ticketing and Merchandise
  • Free updates

Dragons App

Dragons App

Dragons App

Dragons fans can experience an away day with the team as well.

Dragons

Dragons

Fans can sync fixtures to their calendars here Dragons Calendars

Members can also enjoy special benefits like these Red V membership incentives Dragons RED V Incentives

Gold Coast Titans

The Titans held a base camp fan experience at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast where members were able to sleep over at the stadium. More here: Titans Camp Out

GC Titans

GC Titans

Titans fans can help the team out on match days by being apart of the Titans crew.

Titans

Titans

Newcastle Knights

The Knights have held a community fan day where fans were able to get their pics with the team in this custom image.

Knights

Knights

The Knights fun quizzes for fans on social media too.

Knights Quizzes NRL

Knights Quizzes NRL

Cronulla Sharks

One of the more exciting fan engagement features from an NRL team this year has been the announcement from Cronulla about their #SharkPark3D virtual reality experience which enables fans to use a GoogleCard viewer or other Virtual Reality (VR) device, put their phone in the cardboard slot and then experience #SharkPark3D virtual reality! More here on Shark Park 3D

Cronulla #SharkPark3D

Cronulla #SharkPark3D

The Sharkies have launched ‘Sharks Rewards’ with fans able to earn rewards for supporting the club. More here: Sharks Rewards

Sharks Rewards

Sharks Rewards

The live streaming of trial games has been a highlight for fans with other clubs also doing this recently.

Sharks

Sharks

The new Sharks app is worth a look too. Sharks App

Sharks App

Sharks App

Free downloadable match day programs are also on offer for fans.

Sharks Digital Match Day Programs

Sharks Digital Match Day Programs

Penrith Panthers

The Panthers have held various player appearances around Penrith.

Penrith

Penrith

The Panther’s have a good deal for fans with a 6 game pass and a jersey for $199.

Panthers Jersey and Ticket deal

Panthers Jersey and Ticket deal

The Panther’s Oak Super Fan also sees Panther’s fans showcased on a special Instagram. Penrith OAK SUPER FAN

The Panther’s have offered fans free legal advice from a local sponsor which is a good idea.

Panthers

Panthers

The Penrith App offers:

– Access to the latest Panthers news, videos and photo galleries of training and games

– Telstra Premiership draw and fixtures presented in a round or calendar format

– Telstra Premiership and NYC Ladder

– Full squad list with player profiles

– Push notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates

– Access to all Panthers related sites, including our membership site and online store

Manly Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles are giving fans free match day programs which can be downloaded prior to the game.

Manly Match Day Programs

Manly Match Day Programs

Manly also held a members appreciation day as well.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.32.37 am

The Manly Loyalty Rewards program can be viewed here.

Manly has also teamed up with Netflix and Daredevil to offer this interesting video series Barrett’s Daredevil plans for round 1

Barrett's Daredevil plans for round 1

Barrett’s Daredevil plans for round 1

The Sea Eagles App features:

– A brand new design theme and layout optimised for the iPhone 6 and iPad devices ;
– Access to the latest team News, Videos and Photo Galleries;
– 2016 Telstra Premiership Draw and Fixtures presented in a round or calendar format;
– Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and Holden Cup;
– Full squad list with Player Profiles;
– Push Notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates;
– Integrated Twitter feeds from the official team and player accounts; and
– Access to all team related sites, including Membership, Merchandise Store, Ticketing, Events Calendar and many more!

Sea Eagles App

Sea Eagles App

An Australasian Perspective: Fan Engagement Down Under 2014 Review

2014 Australian Fan Engagement Review

2014 Australian Fan Engagement Review

Fan engagement activations from sporting clubs and stadiums are taking the US and UK by storm but are also becoming ever more creative and exciting down in the Southern Hemisphere in Australia and New Zealand. Fans young and old are enjoying the experience of being able to watch the game on the field but also engage with the same game on their second screen and in turn fan loyalty is being rewarded with extra incentives like seat upgrades, prizes and digital media activations coming to fans from every angle. Subsequently there are impressive fan engagement lessons to be learnt from Aussie Rules to rugby league and netball to football from what is taking place in the world of fan engagement down under.

Pie Beacon at MCG

Pie Beacon at MCG

 

It’s clear from my experience travelling the length and breadth of the country in 2014 that every sporting team and stadium in Australia and New Zealand are doing very impressive fan engagement initiatives for their supporters and have the interests of these fans right at heart as they know that this will lead to creating the ultimate spectator experience as well as get more people through the turnstiles. From the gluten free food stand at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and Melbourne and the MCG’s immense selection of food outlets and use of iBeacon technology to Sydney’s connected free WI-FI at ANZ Stadium and Adelaide Oval’s state of the art audio and visual experience it is clear that our stadiums down here are working hard to give fans more bang for their buck and more valuable lasting memories.

 

SlideLiner at ANZ Stadium

SlideLiner at ANZ Stadium

Within my role with audioBoom I’ve been lucky enough to travel frequently around Australia and New Zealand in 2014 talking to sporting teams and stadiums about how they can use our audio platform for their fan engagement strategies. As I’m passionate about being a sports fan but also in learning what these teams and stadiums are doing with fan engagement for their supporters, I’m also very enthusiastic in promoting and showcasing the exciting things that the talented digital, marketing and fan engagement reps are doing down under for their club or stadiums fans.

2014 has been a huge year for fan engagement activations around Australia and I’ve been lucky enough to take in around 80 events here across football, AFL, rugby league, cricket, rugby, netball, hockey, motor racing as well as major events like the fan engagement overload that was both the MLB Opening Series in Sydney and the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

AUS GP Melbourne

AUS GP Melbourne

As a way of shining a light on how well I think Australia and NZ are doing in the fan engagement ranks I have listed a selection of some of the best fan engagement activations that I was able to witness in 2014. There are probably a thousand other ideas from clubs and stadiums far and wide however that are equally as good, however these are just some of the best ones from examples that I was able to witness on my travels.

In March I attended both the Australian Grand Prix Formula One in Melbourne and the Opening Game of the MLB series in Sydney at the SCG. The AUS GP is a fan engagement mecca with a multitude of activations on offer for fans from the #AUSGP twitter hashtag stand for fan photos, classic car roadshow, free Daniel Riccardio face masks, live music on festival type stages, fan zone bars with public access, free kids face painting and action zones featuring race car simulators.  At the Major League Baseball opening game at Sydney’s Cricket Ground the sheer scale of what the event organisers Moore Sports pulled off with this event from securing the correct dirt for the pitching mound to make the stadium look like an American baseball ground was incredible to witness. However it was also all of the fun fan engagement on offer for baseball fans that really was impressive and definitely enhanced the day out at the ground. Outside the ground there were photo opportunities with the MLB trophy, batting cages and pitching zones to merch tents with free giveaways. Once inside the ground there were special zones set up including the ESPN Fan Deck, which featured free merch for fans like inflatable ESPN foam hands and customized beer holder cups. The event also provided a smorgasbord of American food varieties including giant 60cm hot dogs, bacon on a stick and ice cream in baseball helmets, which definitely had fans excited.

ESPN Freebies at the SCG

ESPN Freebies at the SCG

MLB at the SCG

MLB at the SCG

The National Rugby League (NRL) had an impressive year with fan engagement activations from the Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles giving away free flags to fans at games, to Allianz Stadium and the Kangaroos test match rewarding fans with a ‘Seat and Eat’ offer where fans could eat as much as they could during the game. The Newcastle Knights teamed up with SportsBet to feature fans twitter names on the back of their jerseys while the NSW State of Origin rugby league team changed the sponsor words of beer Victoria Bitter on the front of their jerseys to feature fans names. The North Queensland Cowboys gave out free cut out headgear masks of star player Johnathon Thurston to fans while the Broncos also developed an away day cinema room for fans at their club house and gave out a prize to all members at their final home game through a lucky dip bin. The Penrith Panthers had a novel idea by letting fans buy cheaper jerseys if they traded in their old ones which then went to a worthy charity and the Melbourne Storm held a 31 day Instagram challenge which encouraged fans to tag a photo and follow a new theme like try celebration or tickets for example. Five NRL teams also engaged fans by donning special super hero jerseys featuring Wolverine, Captain America and more that were sold to fans and worn during games.

Seat and Eat at Allianz Stadium

Seat and Eat at Allianz Stadium

Newcastle Knights

Newcastle Knights

Broncos members lucky dip

Broncos members lucky dip

Storm Instagram Challenge

Storm Instagram Challenge

 

The Australian Football League (AFL) also rolled out the fan engagement royalty for fans with the Hawthorn Hawks having a fan guard of honour and Port Adelaide Power continuing to build on their theme song by getting fans to sing the INXS classic ‘Never Tear Us Apart’  in unison at home games. The Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns also had two of the best fan zones I witnessed on my travels in 2014 with Brisbane’s ‘Lions Park’ having skills and drills activities and photo stands whereas the Suns featured a live music area called the Fifth Quarter and loads of fan incentives like seat upgrades and food offers as well as allowing members to present players with their jerseys at the fan day. The Sydney Swans offered fans a 2 for 1 ‘Bring a Buddy’ deal to home games as a smart marketing tie in with their star player Buddy Franklin. Many teams emblazoned their jerseys with their members names while the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons featured a women’s exhibition game before a main game and the Richmond Tigers used a photo-tagging platform to enable fans to tag their location at the match. Carlton Blues also used audioBoom to record player biographies, which were then linked to QR codes that were placed around their headquarters so that fans could tour the ground and learn and engage with the history of the club. The home of AFL, the Melbourne Cricket Ground also featured new iBeacon technology which saw roving meat pie sellers fitted with “iBeacons’’ that send messages via Bluetooth technology to supporter’s smart phones as they move around the stadium. Fans who have downloaded the MCG app have a message telling them a pie boy is nearby and are then handed a free Four’N Twenty meat pie when they show their mobile notification message. The MCG also encourages fans to ‘tweet the crowd’ whereby the fan that is closest to the correct crowd figure wins a special rewards. As can be seen from these examples in fan engagement, the AFL and its teams are enhancing the spectator experience of fans.

Gold Coast Suns

Gold Coast Suns

Australia’s domestic football competition, the A-League also featured many diverse fan engagement activations which included giveaways like free shoelaces for fans, digital activations like trivia at the A-League All Stars game and double header matches featuring the women’s teams playing before the men’s at plenty of stadiums around the country which was a good way to build support and engagement with the women’s game in Australia.

The Football United tour of New Zealand featuring West Ham and Newcastle United at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium showcased a tantalizing range of food and beverages at their newly opened fans public bar that would rival some of the member’s bars at stadiums around the world. The Football United App and use of TagBoard at the ground were also good digital activations in Wellington that got fans engaging on their second screens at the double-header match.

Football United Tour of NZ

Football United Tour of NZ

Perth Glory utilized QR codes to have fans vote for their man of the match while the Western Sydney Wanderers encouraged fans to share the footage they record at games to the teams Instagram and Twitter accounts as a way of bringing fans closer to the club. Brisbane Roar held a group fitness day for fans and the Central Coast Mariners constructed a beach bar at one end of their ground where fans could swim behind the goals and take in quality food and drinks all while the main game was taking place. The Mariners also held a Superhero Saturday, which encouraged fans to dress up as their favourite superhero on game day. The Australian national team, The Socceroo’s teamed up with Twitter to show their appreciation to fans with a personalized and signed team photo in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Socceroo’s also published a ‘leave pass’ for fans to give to their bosses in the hope of getting off work early to see the team play some of their games in 2014.

Mariners beach bar

Mariners beach bar

Perth Glory

Perth Glory

 

Socceroos Leave Pass

Socceroos Leave Pass

 

But it’s not just the AFL and NRL leading the way with the Australian Rugby Union using the innovative experience of the SlideLiner at both ANZ Stadium and Suncorp Stadium. The SlideLiner was a four-person fan bench structure that sat on an 80-metre track near the pitch and moved along the field, following the game as it happened. The SlideLiner was equipped with Samsung technology so fans can share images through social media. The Queensland Reds Super Rugby team also featured personalied player mascots and enrolled the services of a cute red heeler puppy which were both a big hit with fans young and old. The National Rugby Championship (NRC) competition also featured match day programs,which could be downloaded via QR code direct to fans phones or tablets.

NRC Rugby QR Code program

NRC Rugby QR Code program

The SlideLiner

The SlideLiner

QLD Reds mascots

QLD Reds mascots

 

The Australian Baseball League (ABL) also offered fans some very appealing activities with the Brisbane Bandits and Melbourne Aces leading the way. The Aces have set up a dedicated fan zone at their stadium while the Bandits have incorporated food trucks on game nights as well as all you can eat incentives for fans. Another interesting activation by the Bandits was their speed dating ‘singles’ night which could possibly now give Tinder a run for its money for single sports fans to meet that special someone over an authentic ballpark hot dog!

The ANZ Netball Championship also saw plenty of exciting fan engagement with free giveaways at games but one of the more impressive things I noticed was the free healthy and nutritious raw food recipes being published by the Queensland Firebirds team which was certainly a refreshing thing to see in terms of healthy living education. Hockey Australia also engaged fans with their #12daysofhockey campaign which was run across the Hockey Australia, Hockeyroos and Kookaburras social media channels, website and digital platforms and saw fans engage with the national teams via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and audioBoom in order to win prizes.

Netball Fan Engagement

Netball Fan Engagement

12 Days of Hockey Fan Engagement

12 Days of Hockey Fan Engagement

 

Fan engagement is on the rise in Australia and New Zealand with teams and stadiums constantly looking to improve the match day experience for fans. This review has only touched the surface of all the impressive activations that are taking place down here however there are many valuable and creative fan engagement ideas which can be learned from what the hard working club and stadium sports business marketing and digital media reps are doing to get fans back into the stadium and create these lifelong memories for sporting fans.

 

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