Sport Facility Integration Summit: Cisco Keynote Targets Need for In-Venue Connectivity

To say that technology has become pervasive in our lives is an understatement. Between mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and more, the ways to connect with one another are seemingly endless. Unless, of course, you attend a sporting event without WiFi.

At SVG Europe’s inaugural Sport Facility Integration Summit, Cisco Systems’ Bryan Bedford provided an opening keynote in which he described our dependence on mobile technology and impatience for unconnected venues.

“A way to describe personal technology being pervasive in our lives is when you notice it in its absence. That’s what stadiums are experiencing right now,” said Bedford, who serves as senior manager, business development, global emerging partnerships, sports and entertainment. “[This generation of fans] are used to WiFi; they’re used to that same experience every day of the week. When they go to a stadium [and] it becomes a black hole, they don’t really want to go.”

Unsurprisingly, most fans (83%, according to statistics offered by Bedford) are happy with the home-viewing experience. Between strides made in broadcast technology and consumer sets — not to mention, the quality of the on-air product and on-field teams — the at-home experience is better than ever. In fact, more than half of those polled would prefer to watch at home.

Great news for broadcasters, not so great for venues.

When fans do decide to attend a sporting event, they want more than a great game; they want a great experience. More important, they want to be able to share that experience with others. “People want to share that experience; they want to share what they’ve done,” said Bedford. “Fundamentally, whatever they do six days of the week they want to be able to do it on that seventh day when they go to that match.”

From IPTV to WiFi to mobile video, Cisco supplies a full range of stadium connectivity. Cisco Connected Stadium provides venues with a highly scalable, secure network that syncs access, communications, entertainment, and operations on one platform. Connected Stadium WiFi gives venues the ability to provide high-density wireless connectivity to every fan in attendance. Cisco StadiumVision is a centrally managed digital content-distribution system, and StadiumVision Mobile — the latest addition to Cisco’s sports portfolio — delivers high-quality live video to mobile devices.

Cisco’s technology is in nearly 200 venues around the world, including Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, and Celtic Park in Glasgow City, UK. Both offer in-game mobile-app experiences with video (the Barclays Center app features live video via multicast streaming; the Celtic Park app, video highlights), stats, player information, and more.

“Fan behaviour is really changing; it’s changing dramatically,” said Bedford. “Engagement with these mobile apps and the mobile-app experience will dramatically change because people will [increasingly] understand how to produce and program content.

“We’re most certainly living in a connected world,” he continued, “and to think that that behaviour changes when we go to a game, that’s not true.”

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