Sports marketing and location based services

How location-based services in sports marketing (can) provide a new fan experience and why “small” teams in particular benefit from it. 

Digitalization does not stop at sports marketing either. Especially when it comes to the management of sports facilities. The first view goes across the big pond, where the top-selling sports leagues are at home in networked arenas. With a turnover of 1.7 billion euros, the DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga,“German Football League”) is only sixth in the list of leagues with the highest turnover. The first three places are occupied by basketball, baseball and football. The NFL and its teams have a turnover of 6.7 billion euros. By 2027, sales are even expected to increase to around 25 billion euros (27 billion dollars). An average of 67,000 spectators flock to the arenas for the matches, making the NFL – 75% of whose stadiums are already equipped with iBeacons – the league with the highest average number of spectators worldwide. On the european market, Favendo, for example, has the know-how to build large iBeacon infrastructures.

Large numbers of viewers in the USA meant exactly what they mean in Europe: Traffic chaos, crowds, search for blocks and seats, long distances to the toilet, queues at the stalls where you pay with strange credit cards, which you have to load before your visit, but from which you can never debit the remaining amount. That’s why what Sean Kundu of the San Francisco 49ers said applies on both sides of the Atlantic: “Our biggest challengers are not other teams from the region or perhaps other events, but our biggest challenger is the couch. Right in the middle of it all: without traffic jams, stress and bad weather – but in excellent picture quality and in the best places. And even the WLAN works. As banal as the last point may sound in many ears: fans with a smartphone in their hands are the best brand ambassadors and create tons of content per game. It is a pity that in most stadiums the network is too weak to disseminate this content. In a survey in the UK, Australia and USA, over a quarter of all visitors said they were frustrated by weak connections and network access.

The Sports marketing managers of the 49ers have taken on the challenges that the technological expectations of their fans mean for every club. Even more: they use the technology for their purposes. Over 600 kilometers of cable, 1300 access points and over 2000 beacons are installed in the new stadium. With the help of the app, the club has also created a never-ending day of play that begins long before the kick-off. With the eTicket on the smartphone, the user not only receives all relevant traffic information for the route to the stadium, but is also informed in the stadium about the points of sale with the shortest queue and guided to any POI. But why queue? You can use the app to order food and drinks directly to the site. A loyalty program automatically collects points for merchandising purchases. Levi’s Stadium recorded an increase in sales of $1.25 million from sales directly from the app as a result of the launch. An attractive app with live content from the match and the opportunity to connect with other fans in the stadium also helps Sport marketing managers to captures the so-called “Displaced Fans”, who rarely or never have the opportunity to experience their team live. Fanatics – an online store selling licensed merchandising from the NFL, NBA, NCAA, MLB and NHL – found that 74 percent of NFL team fans are not locals. Overall, this applies to half of all major North American sports teams. Similar figures will only reach the very big football teams in Germany, but especially for the “small” teams it is all the more true that they have to build a stable and success-independent relationship with their fans and that especially the sports managers of these teams cannot afford to let this potential lie idle. While football clubs can benefit from TV revenues well into the lower leagues, other sports are almost completely excluded. From the 2017/2018 season for a period of four years, the German professional clubs of the DFL will receive a total of 4.64 billion euros for the sale of their national media rights. The 18 clubs in the Basketball Bundesliga, for example, receive a mid-figure sum from their deal with Deutsche Telekom, which has secured the broadcasting rights – as well as from other advertising revenues. Stefan Holz, Managing Director of the German Basketball League, therefore rightly says: “We don’t really have large budgets, which is why we have to pursue intelligent marketing.

The fact that the appropriate technical equipment belongs to it however only very slowly rumours around. After ALBA BERLIN, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and ratiopharm ulm, Brose Bamberg is only the fourth club in the Basketball Bundesliga to offer free WLAN in “its” hall. After all, stable connectivity in the arenas would be an important prerequisite for the use of location-based services.

When the first Sports marketing managers by a club or arena in Germany will follow the role models of the major North American leagues is only a matter of time. It will therefore be all the more exciting to see which sport or league takes the first step. UPDATE: It’s the DEL-Team Adler Mannheim based in the SAP Arena.