A technology-enabled fan experience

A few months ago a colleague of mine wrote a blog entry after he attended the Soccerex event in Rio. The event centred on ‘the fan experience’, with exhibitors demonstrating advancements in every facet of the game – goal-line technology, turf technology, digital fan interactive technology…the list goes on.

Then yesterday, the BBC announced that England’s top football clubs have voted in favour of the introduction of goal-line technology to the Premier League. This technology-heightened experience got me thinking about a football match I attended recently and what this actually meant for me and my ‘fan experience’.

On this particular day I arrived at the stadium and, as usual, bought a match day programme, primarily as a momento of the day but also for some pre-match and half-time reading. On the back page there was a QR Code inviting me to scan it 30 minutes before the game to access the team list. I proceeded to scan the code…but it didn’t work. No big deal and on with the game I went.

Part-way through the game I tried to post a photo on Facebook to share the excitement of the game (and yes, to gloat slightly to friends and family that weren’t there with me). But I couldn’t access the internet. I thought hitting the ‘check-in’ button might work instead, but alas, to no avail.

My last-ditch attempt came at half-time when it is customary to check the scores of other games being played. You can guess the outcome.

With apparently little or no cellular coverage in the stadium this got me thinking – surely the club are missing a trick here? I follow several ‘fan groups’ on social networking sites and during a game, fans use such a platform as an opportunity to discuss the game, how the team are doing, comment on great goals and individual performances – I couldn’t get involved in any of this. In turn, this means that all my ‘connections’ couldn’t share in my excitement either.

Very often football fans, and sports fans in general, are extremely loyal, often supporting only one team their entire life. Fans get very passionate and are amazing advocates for the team. Effectively they become brand ambassadors for their chosen club. Sharing this passion is important to them and this is free marketing for the club!!

On the flip-side, as a fan this situation becomes exasperating. Mobile coverage is so often referred to as the fourth utility and people simply expect to be able to access 2G/3G networks wherever they are. As a recent Soccerex blog so rightly comments; “we have a world in which the fan expects and demands more information” and they want to be able to share this. I don’t want my ‘fan experience’ to be marred with the feeling of frustration…and I’m pretty sure the clubs don’t either?

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