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Surrounded by sports – part two

March 7, 2016

Mehul Kapadia   

Blog contributor

In my previous post, I discussed the enhanced focus on captivating an audience in today’s sport environment. While sports organisations, leaders and associated companies join the race to capture audience attention, the sentiment seems to be that the key lies in the use of innovative technologies, on and off the pitch.

Coming to a stadium near you

And these efforts aren’t exclusive to creating a phenomenal fan experience for those at home with the latest technology bringing them closer to the game; it extends to those already in the stadium. For example, Wembley stadium has started to deploy technologies inside the arena which will build on the overall experience for the viewer. During the FA Cup final in May, select groups in the boxes within the stadium were able to call up multi-angle plays on tablets, within a minute of it taking place on the pitch. Added extras such as access to contactless payments and ordering snacks from their mobiles meant that the control was put in their hands, the experience was completely tailored to what they needed, an experience crafted by them and not bound by bad timing, cues or a distorted view of the grounds.

In Germany, the Veltins-Arena is said to be an incredible display of mass-entertainment technology. The multi-purpose stadium sells itself as the ‘most modern venue in Europe’, and is home to a range of the latest technology. This includes a video cube, which floats in the centre circle, and presents images in high resolution to the audience at every corner of the arena, and electronic access control, that allows visitors to enter through electronic turnstiles, as well as the ability for visitors to pay with a Knapp card, a smart card which takes payments and replaces cash, cutting down the cues throughout the venue.

Harnessing social media to bring fans closer to the action

It’s not only about creating new fan experiences through futuristic VR technologies and state-of-the-art arenas. Sports organisations are also bringing their audiences closer to the action through initiatives like the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize. It aims to not only spur technological advancement in the sport but also to engage with F1 enthusiasts and the technology community in a new way.

F1 teams are also increasingly harnessing social media platforms to create a sense of togetherness with their fans, and taking engagement to new heights. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team – recently confirmed as the 2015 Constructors’ Championship winners – is a great example of this.

To celebrate Mercedes’ success, we worked with the team to invite fans to share their messages and pictures on Twitter and Facebook, which were shown on a high-definition social media display in the team’s garage. The huge displays that stretch the length of both sides of the garage at every Grand Prix, showed messages from fans the world over at the Austin Grand Prix, congratulating the team on their brilliant season.

The numbers speak for themselves: with 210 million mentions for the hashtag #wonmoretime, it is evident that Mercedes’ fans relished the opportunity to engage with the team in this way. And the team loved it too. Nico Rosberg summed up their feelings well, saying “Using this technology is a great way for everyone – drivers, team and fans – to celebrate the championship together. I’m very grateful for the enormous backing we get from our fans and I can’t get enough of the messages in the garage!”

Transforming sport as we know it

It’s evident that at the heart of many of these technologies is the ambition to elevate the fan experience, and what more and more companies are realising is that this often lends itself to a greater need for digital interaction between fans and their team.

While not all stadiums will have the resources to outfit themselves in incredible technology, the benefits of creating an environment – in the real world, virtual world or social media – to connect the individual and the team, the sport and the loyal fan base, should not be taken for granted.

The question is, which medium – and more specifically sports organisation – will be the first to truly crack these technologies and to transform their field as they know it? Who do you think it will be? Leave a comment below.


Tata Communications was the Official Connectivity Provider of Formula 1® between 2012 and 2019. Tata Communications was also the Official Managed Connectivity Supplier to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and Official Digital Transformation Partner to ROKiT Williams Racing until the end of the 2019 season.