Technology advancements have meant that we can watch games, concerts and sports events easily from our own homes. This was a concern aired in 2012 in an article by Mike Freeman entitled ‘…..a losing battle in keeping fans filling its stadiums’.  The fear was that technology was enabling fans to watch from home and without the high cost of actually attending the venue itself. 

However, Roger Goodell, a commissioner for the National Football League in America, said at the time that he wanted wireless in all stadiums so fans can stay in touch with news across the league during games, get better concessions and view bigger scoreboards. In other words, using technology to KEEP the fans coming to the stadiums. Was he was right?

The London Olympics

In the same year as Goodell’s drive to create wireless in all stadiums in America, the Olympic games were held in London UK. The highlights of this event sent social media wild: Usain Bolt defended his title as the fastest man in the world. We also witnessed the special moment when American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most medalled Olympian of all time. Jessica Ennis won the gold medal in the heptathlon and won the nation’s hearts as a result. Those lucky enough to be there would have felt the excitement and those of us watching at home were left feeling envious of the crowd.

The commonwealth games in Glasgow July 2014 brought with it some more special sporting moments. During the games it was reported that nearly 3.5 million people passed through Central Station and that there were over a million posts about Glasgow 2014 on social media. The Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014 David Grevemberg, said: ‘A massive thank you goes to the people of Glasgow who embraced the Games and welcomed all athletes and visitors with sensational support, smiles and… selfies. For bringing the house down in all the venues with their deafening levels of support.’    

The buzz of a stadium

The moment that you step into a stadium you can feel the excitement of the crowds around and sense the anticipation of what you are about to witness – live. That’s something that can’t quite be captured when watching from home, it’s just not the same.

Stadiums have a buzz about them and that is what keeps the seats filled with die hard spectators year on year. Often tickets don’t come cheap but people are happy to pay to show their support at these events if they are given the right rewards.

So, should stadiums provide free WiFi?

We know there is an expectation of WiFi wherever we are, including stadiums. It is also fact that fans share their personal experience of the event they are witnessing. Fans already share their crowd pictures and interact with other people who are at the event via Twitter, for example.

In addition to this fun aspect of using social media platforms on their mobile devices, spectators at an event should feel comfortable finding their way around. Providing free WiFi gives fans access to wayfinding apps for ease of navigation. They can point people to their seats, the nearest food and drink vendor, toilets or to the merchandise store. A friend finding tool could show fans where their friends are, which is a huge benefit from a social perspective and also for safety as fans can easily pinpoint each other if they are separated in the crowd.

WiFi provision means that fans can record it from their own perspective, watch replays, view shared media  from other fans and create personalised merchandise. WiFi could link spectators to the LED screens around the stadium and fans can vote for their favourite music during breaks.

Stadiums that have access to analytics or information about their fans (age, gender and dwell time) can track their movement around the venue, gaining a clearer picture of consumer behaviour. Armed with this information, they will adjust displays and food/ drink vendor locations to maximise the experience for visitors.

WiFi becomes the best choice for stadiums

As Michael Lok, managing director of South East Asia of Ruckus Wireless says  ‘With almost every spectator owning a smartphone and constantly uploading photos and videos to their preferred social network, it becomes necessary now for these public venues to add a new access network to cater to these growing smartphones consumers and customers’.

He added: ‘WiFi becomes the best choice to the venues and expectations for a reliable and powerful WiFi performance’.