The Hawks weren’t inside the NBA bubble, but you got to observe how the league and other teams operated within it. What have been some of the most significant lessons learned from the bubble so far? And are they informing your plans for the new season?
Steve Koonin: From a business side, we learned that there are unique opportunities. I don’t know how much you watched, but all of the floor signage was virtual, which gave the opportunity to feature different brands. Microsoft Teams [was] integrated into the TV broadcasts in order to put fans virtually in the stands, even though they were in their living rooms. It’s hard to look and see that we’re going to start next season with full stands. I think that’s a safe assumption. So how can you make up for some of the attendance gaps with advertising and marketing programs that utilize technology in and around the court? That’s going to be a big focus for our team and others.
Every aspect of a top athlete's performance is now monitored by some form of artificial intelligence. Heart rate, blood sugar, sleep... you name it, somebody, or something, is checking it.
Under the jersey, on the arm, around the wrist, the devices are as discreet as possible but are precious tools in honing performance.
"Today, the number of technological advances, which make it possible to follow the physiological state of an athlete, is exploding," Gael Guilhem, director of the sport, expertise and performance laboratory of the French Sports Institute (Insep), said. The object is to collect personal data so as to leave nothing to chance and perfect each parameter of preparation.
Mobilitie, the largest privately-held wireless infrastructure firm in the nation, is deploying a network upgrade to support top wireless carriers and 5G capabilities throughout Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, home to the 2020 AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays. An iconic venue in the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years, Tropicana Field has accommodated numerous sporting events under its dome, including countless collegiate football and basketball games, tennis matches and even sprint car and motorcycle racing.
“We are thrilled to have selected Mobilitie as our long-term wireless solution provider, said Juan Ramirez, VP of IT for the Tampa Bay Rays. “Their expertise in deploying innovative network infrastructure has made them a great technology partner, and we are excited about the new network and the future technologies, including 5G, it will provide for the stadium, the team and the fans.”
Mobilitie’s massive network upgrade is comprised of 15 sector MIMO DAS and features more than 15,000 feet of fiber, 138 remotes and 276 antennas, ensuring fans have a robust wireless experience within the stadium by improving network speeds, capacity and cell reception throughout the venue. With faster and more reliable connections, fans can freely text and make calls, take and share pictures and video, and use data-heavy apps without missing a moment of the action on the field.
“The latest mobile technologies and enhanced connectivity are a vital part of the fan experience for major league sports venues. With the league hopeful that attendees can soon return to the stands, what better way to welcome fans back than by offering a best-in-class wireless experience. We are making that a reality for Tropicana Field and all those who will soon visit to cheer on their favorite teams," said Michael Curry, VP of Wireless Solutions at Mobilitie.
Tropicana Field is the latest Major League sports stadium where Mobilitie has invested in new infrastructure to provide support for 5G and future technologies. In recent months, the company announced projects and upgrades with LA’s Staples Center and Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.
The Seattle Seahawks are running another play from an evolving virtual fan engagement playbook, teaming with Microsoft once again, this time to connect fans in Microsoft Teams with players and coaches before a game.
The experience using the tech giant’s collaboration software is called Pregame Huddle, and allows a select group of fans to feel closer to the action as the Seahawks warm up at CenturyLink Field. As the team continues to play in an empty stadium during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seahawks are seizing on technology to try to bridge the divide.
Players coming out of the tunnel to the field are encouraged to stop at a Microsoft Surface Hub where they can say hi and chat with the fans who have assembled in Teams. Seahawks game-day emcee and radio personality Gee Scott serves as a host, leading chats between fans and getting the players to interact. As the team is warming up, a video feed in Teams might show stars such as Russell Wilson tossing passes to D.K. Metcalf, or offer up stats on Bobby Wagner and so on.
Ticketmaster, the global leader in advanced ticketing technologies, today announced the development of SmartEvent, a new suite of technology tools that helps fans safely return to live events. Designed with flexibility in mind, SmartEvent gives event organizers the ability to adapt protocols to meet evolving needs of capacity, distancing and other logistics throughout the reopening journey for concerts, sports games, comedy shows and other events. Many of these capabilities will deliver long-term implementation value, opening new doors for fan experience.
“We know that fans around the world are eager to return to live events and SmartEvent gives event organizers an array of solutions to help make that possible,” said Mark Yovich, President of Ticketmaster. “SmartEvent brings together our advanced technology platform and industry-leading venue and seating insights, putting Ticketmaster in the unique position to facilitate paths back to live.”
While the road back to live events will look different in markets around the world depending upon local conditions and regulations, Ticketmaster’s SmartEvent offerings provide event hosts with tools they need to operate in this new environment while giving fans peace of mind.
Ten years ago, when Will Ahmed was a student and captain of the men’s squash team at Harvard University, he became fascinated with physiology. He read hundreds of articles in medical journals and wrote a thesis on the human body. He wanted to understand why he had trouble recovering from long workouts, sustained injuries and didn’t always get a good night’s sleep.
Soon after graduating from college in 2012, Ahmed decided to take things further and figure out how to use technology to help people improve their health and fitness. And so, Ahmed founded a company called Whoop along with Aurelian Nicolae, a classmate who majored in mechanical engineering, and John Capodilupo, a computer science major who was two years younger than Ahmed and Nicolae.
An increased level of communication is one of the key factors sports franchises are utilizing to get fans back into stadiums. The development of in-venue apps helps communicate the most up-to-date information on attending an even and empowers the venue manager to heat map attendees in real time and geofence certain areas of the venue.
All of the technologies the teams are rolling out, such as mobile ticketing, chat and food ordering, have been around for some time, but what was once seen as a luxury is now a necessity. Satisfi Labs is working on a project to measure fan density in each section of the venue and help fans navigate to shorter lines when possible or through a less-crowded route to their seating area.
Media companies, sports leagues and casinos are all trying their luck at setting up new content and sportsbook ventures aimed to reap what they expect to be millions of dollars as sports betting is legalized in various U.S. states. But some of the TV outlets may be able to use the technology built around wagering and pick-to-win contests for games crafted around politics, news and entertainment – and many audiences may willingly accept it.
“There is a younger cohort of viewers out there that simply expects more interactivity and more engagement opportunities with programming than previous generations,” says Tim Hanlon, CEO of The Vertere Group, a consultancy that works with media and marketing companies.
Japan is said to be planning to expand the use of facial recognition technology at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of COVID-19 combatting measures.
Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing government sources, said the technology originally intended to securely identify Games personnel and the media, along with detecting suspicious activity, is being assessed for use on spectators.
It is reported that one plan is to locate security cameras equipped with the technology at Games stadia and arenas to record spectators’ faces and body surface temperatures, and determine if they are wearing masks.
The recorded data is expected to help prevent potential cluster infections, by enhancing contact tracing of those who may have been in contact with a person found to have tested positive for COVID-19.
When the 2020 MLB season began in July with empty stands, the league still managed to bring its homebound fans into the ballpark to cheer — or boo — during games.
MLB’s “Cheer at the Ballpark” feature resonated with baseball fans so much, the league has decided to incorporate it into this year’s World Series.
The league launched “Cheer at the Ballpark” ahead of Opening Day on July 23 across the MLB.com website, Gameday app and various social media links. It allows fans to engage with their team’s games by alerting scoreboard operators at ballparks about their reactions. The operators receive a live interface reflecting fans’ thoughts, enabling them to adjust the type of artificial fan noise inserted into the relatively empty stadiums.