How Digitalisation Can Improve The Fan Experience

Fans at a football match using apps on their phones By Naomi Owusu, CEO of Tickaroo.

Digitalisation and technology have found their way into every area of our lives – and sport is no exception. Over the years, technology has drastically changed the fan experience, with avid sports fans now able to engage with athletes and their favourite teams at the click of a button. For athletes, digitalisation has eliminated barriers to connecting with fans and is even used to enhance their performance through technology like location tracking.

Digitalisation also unlocks growth opportunities for the sports industry, offering the potential to draw fans in through innovative and personalised experiences. However, despite the positives, fan engagement is one of the most critical challenges for the football industry, especially in younger generations who rely heavily on smartphones, have shorter attention spans, and have increased expectations of receiving personalised and unique brand experiences.

We are also seeing a change in how people consume sports due to technology, going from watching matches live on the TV to OTT platforms, engaging instead with the highlights, video on demand, sports feeds and user-generated content. The rise of the smartphone and other smart devices has also contributed to an erosion in live game attendance as more people have now switched to online services to get their fix. Clubs - such as Carlisle United - are now scrapping their matchday programmes altogether due to declining audiences caused by the digital age.

Engaging With The New Generation

Our research has found that consumers place greater importance on short, sharp, and easily accessible formats to consume content. Similarly, consumers are more interested in receiving live updates on politics and sports.

With that in mind, the football industry needs to capitalise on the fact that the younger generation is fully connected and introduces new ways of getting their attention. They expect rich and immersive content such as the club's historical results, metrics of all the players' performance, and other related information so that attendants can check all the insights while watching the match.

One of the top digital solutions that drive fan engagement is digital platforms that enable personalised content and real-time statistics. As such, football organisations need to leverage technology that strategically provides this to their fans. So how can digitalisation improve the overall fan experience?

Real-Time Updates Via Blogs

Football organisations can capture their audience's attention through live blogging, which offers many opportunities to connect with fans during and after matches. With match day attendance declining over the years, until the recent post-pandemic resurgence, liveblogs can share short, relevant and authentic snippets of the game in real-time to keep audiences updated, engaged and informed about the match. Information such as the score, goals, spectator commentary, highlights and even the mascot's wild antics can be added to keep users updated on what is happening. Replays of goals can be uploaded, so fans don't miss a beat, prolonging the engagement and interest in the live action. Images and tweets can also be embedded to create an even greater immersive experience for fans.

Similarly, other interactive content like polls and quizzes can be integrated into the live blog to add an extra dimension to the story coverage, heighten the experience within the stadium itself, and make fans who aren't in the stadiums feel connected to the action. Liveblogs can also share exclusive content like locker room pictures and candid interviews during the game.

Important information, such as rain delays and available transportation, can also be directly communicated to those attending matches. The organisers of the European Championships in Munich covered the action for spectators but also had another live blog they used to communicate with their volunteers and employees. Outside of the game, a live blog can get fans back on the website by posting in-between matchday information such as transfers, training, injury progress and game-day offerings at the stadium or food courts.

Organisations can also generate revenue when hosting a match day by easily using their live blog as an opportunity to secure a live coverage sponsor. Unlike ads, a sponsored live blog provides visibility for the sponsor without interrupting the coverage flow.

Technology has become an integral part of the way fans consume sports. As such, football organisations need to leverage the latest technology to ensure they keep up with consumer trends, strengthening engagement by providing an immersive experience and driving new avenues of growth and revenue.

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How Digitalisation Can Improve The Fan Experience