As improvements are made in the digital world, nearly every sports team is transforming their fan experience. Teams are simply aiming for more when it comes to showing their fans how much they are appreciated. With increasing social engagement, game-day excitement and fan appreciation, marketing and fan engagement departments are rushing towards creating the ultimate fan experience. Previously, we revealed top examples of extraordinary fan engagement from teams that progressively improve their fans’ experiences. Now, we bring to you a few extra worthy additions to that list.
Golden State Warriors
As the Warriors captured the 2015 NBA Championship, they gained recognition for another accolade as well. Since 2010, the new owners of the Golden State organization, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, have drastically ramped up fan engagement to an all-out level. On game-day, the Warriors provide 48 minutes of entertainment on the court like any other team, but they also choreograph up to six hours of live entertainment for every home game during pre-game, timeouts, game breaks and post-game. The Warriors NBA Title run was led by the slogan “Strength in Numbers”, a phrase that showed fans their value to the team and ultimately created a loyal fanbase that opponents feared playing against in the Oracle Arena during the playoffs.
In particular, the Warriors partnered with Peet’s Coffee to create a limited line of coffee and a valuable stream of digital content for their fans. “Warriors Grounds”, the new coffee from Peet’s was promoted with video featuring Assistant Coach, Jarron Collins, touring a Peet’s facility and learning about the roasting process. Fans were also able to vote for their favorite flavor through Twitter and Facebook.
“Fans are looking for an extra layer of content beyond the sport itself, including the interests of coaches and players” said Chip Bowers, Golden State Warriors CMO.
With their impressive display of fan engagement, there’s no surprise when it comes to the 96% season ticket renewal rate that Golden State retains.
As a sport that experienced double-digit growth throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, NASCAR took a dramatic turn in 2006 when the sport failed to grow as it had before and faced a steady decline for the next five years. In 2011, NASCAR CEO, Brian France, launched the largest marketing research project initiated by a US sport in hopes to discover the cause of dropping NASCAR attendance and TV viewing.
The decline of the sport was largely rooted in the lack of catering to the future audience of the sport: Millennials. All of NASCAR’s digital properties were licensed to Turner Sports, creating a conflict between the sport’s mission for future growth and Turner’s vision for improving its own bottom line. In addition, teams and drivers found little motivation to connect with fans digitally and fans dealt with challenges to connect at races typically held in rural areas where cell phone service and wifi were especially limited. The younger, future generation of NASCAR saw the sport as an entertainment event, failing to compete with its more popular sporting and live entertainment counterparts.
Addressing the underlying problems with NASCAR, France initiated a plan to revive and refuel the future of the sport, focusing much of the efforts on improving the fan experience. Media training and marketing resources were made readily available for drivers and teams to encourage branding and digital interaction with fans. NASCAR worked heavily with independent partners to revamp the infrastructure of major tracks to allow way for a new level of components for greater fan experiences.
As a result, in its second year of managing its own digital rights, NASCAR surpassed one billion page views across its website and mobile app and experienced a 45% year-over-year increase in engagement.
“Fan engagement has never been higher” says Colin Smith, Vice President of NASCAR Digital Media. “Fans can expect to see new site experiences, a richer gaming platform, educational tools to learn more about the sport, and more detailed stats and live analysis around the racing action in 2015.”
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Taking a peek into fan engagement outside of the United States, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an Australian sports stadium host to the 1956 Summer Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 1992 and 2015 Cricket World Cups. MCG is also home to 10 different sporting clubs in any given month between the Australian Football League, Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria.
As a home stadium for multiple teams year-round, MCG’s tenant clubs have recently urged for greater fan engagement opportunities within the stadium. As fan engagement becomes a growing priority for sports organizations, MCG saw the growing necessity of improved digital infrastructure and announced a $45 million project aimed to improve fan engagement in the stadium.
With IBM as the head technical contractor, Melbourne Cricket Ground will undergo three major upgrades within the next year. Along with the existing 2000 replay screens in the stadium, 800 additional digital wifi-enabled screens are expected to be added within the next year. A secure, high-density wifi network and improved 3G & 4G connectivity are in the works and expected to be available by December 2015. In addition, MCG is installing a new exterior lighting system that includes 240 LED lamps that will allow teams to customize the colors and envelope their fans in more of home-like atmosphere.
With new connectivity solutions and home club theming, Club Chief Executive Stephen Gough is hoping for teams to give their fans an entirely new and unique experience in upcoming games.
“We would hope that each of the clubs in the AFL would do it differently”, Gough said. “We would encourage the individual clubs, with their own talents, to make it theirs.”
As fan engagement continues to evolve, teams are looking for new and creative ways to get their fans closer to the team and enhance their fan experience. With the new Fantelope fan engagement platform, fans will be able to show off their team pride like never before. Fans will be able to engage with their favorite teams through exciting fandom competition and challenges. Currently undergoing beta testing, Fantelope will be available for high school, college and professional sports teams.