Guest Comment: The smart stadium and why today’s sports fan expect the ultimate, digitally connected venue

Passionate sports fans of today are always thinking ahead when it comes to the “viewer experience”, writes Adder Corporation marketing executive James Wood. New sound system capabilities, high resolution images and larger than life digital screens are all features big-time sports fans pay attention to when they step into a sports stadium.

Fans hope to immerse themselves in the environment so they feel a strong connection to their favored team. In fact, a recent Cisco survey reported 45 percent of premium sports fans (who always or often buy season tickets) said they would pay more for a better in-person experience.

In an effort to increase ticket sales, sporting organisations are putting a large portion of their funds behind venue upgrades. Not surprisingly, the audio/visual (A/V) capabilities of the stadium are a critical part of that upgrade. The demand for dramatic camera angles and slow-motion replays are at an all-time high; fans want to see those angles and have the same experience on their couch at home as they do in a stadium setting.

Systems integrators take this mentality seriously, which is why implementing the proper tools and technologies is vital. A natural first instinct for an upgrade would be to install digital screen, menus and signs everywhere in sight; and while that can be a crucial part of the upgrade, the behind the scenes components are just as important to the fan’s viewing experience.

Here are three reasons why:

Enhancement: A sports fan’s experience can easily be disrupted due to bad connections, server malfunctions, etc, which is why reliability is vital. If adjustments need to be made to another camera feed, the operator should have the ability to switch controls without interrupting the camera feed of the game. KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) solutions, for instance, allow operators to move their computers to another location while still using the same machine via a keyboard, monitor and mouse. Although this is just one example, there is more to a viewer’s enhanced experience than just functioning digital screens. Fast paced cuts, replays and zoom in/zoom out capabilities need to be seamlessly integrated for a smooth yet fast-paced experience.

Unification: The common theme for many of today’s sports stadium installations is digital, including video boards, digital signage, menu boards, kiosk screens and digital audio. The ability to control multiple screens at once and sync the viewer’s screen creates a cohesive experience for the fan, ensuring that they don’t miss a moment of the game. A/V extenders, for example, allow operators to control signage of all sorts in all types of locations – both in the stadium itself and in remote locations. In this case, viewers gaining access to screens while they use the restroom, order food or buy apparel – they will always have access to the game under any circumstance.

Interaction: The behind-the-scenes features, particularly in sports stadium, act as a gateway towards a more connected, interactive and reliable facility for both fans and players. This includes footage of the audience during half-time, displaying sponsored commercials or being able to hear the players discussing their next move in a team huddle. Adding top-notch audio and digital features to an upgraded stadium allows for more flexibility and streamlines control for operators. Sports fans need an interactive component to the game so they feel as though they are a part of it – as though they are moving up and down the field, court or rink with the players.

Like almost every other industry in the world, the sporting industry is rapidly becoming digital. Fans want to connect with the players, other fans and viewers watching at home. The flexibility to move across multiple systems and have control over multiple cameras with various angles and replay capabilities gives operators the proper tools to effectively carry out and maintain that connection with the passionate sports fans and their beloved teams.

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