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With increases in digital viewership, arenas have had to make fundamental changes to fill stadium seats. One of these is the use of digital signage for live sports. In the past, many games were not televised and visual quality on broadcasts was often poor. It was easy to convince people that there was no substitute for actually being in the stands, cheering for their favorite team.
Now, with high definition, increased game broadcasts and the rising price of tickets, attendance at live sports events has been decreasing. USA Today reported in December 2014 that many college football bowl games struggle to sell tickets, even though they bring in high numbers of television views. One example is the Camellia Bowl, which drew only 20,256 physical attendees but 1,114,000 broadcast viewers. This shift is often attributed to the fact that views of the action are simply better on TV than they are from the stadium’s seats.
Digital Signage Increases Attendance
Many teams and arenas are combating the decline in physical attendance by installing digital signage in both indoor and outdoor sports venues. “From our vantage point, we have seen investment in these large-format screens increase at a rapid rate as arenas try to stay ahead of the fans’ appetite,” says Ryan Young, vice president of sales for Prismview (formerly YESCO Electronics), a subsidiary of Samsung. “It is all about the fan experience created by an interactive, vibrant atmosphere.”
Young says that digital signage can increase attendance for several reasons. One is that the bright LED screens give a great view of the action from any seat in the house, even the cheap seats, so that the views are as good as or better than they are on television. He cites the new Soldier Field stadium upgrade, where the historic arena is incorporating what will be the highest-resolution screens in the NFL. The stadium’s broadcast team can show replays and stadium views that can’t be seen on television. The fan experience is also enhanced by exclusive content from the home team, such as player interviews and statistics, that do not typically appear on a neutral television broadcast.
Digital signage for live sports gives fans an opportunity to be part of the action while in the stadium. The screens can also allow fans to interact with content, such as social streams and polls, through their tablets and smartphones, which makes spectators feel like they’re part of the experience.
More Opportunities for Sponsors
Updating to digital signage also dramatically increases opportunities for sponsorships. Young discusses what has happened with EnergySolutions Arena where the Utah Jazz play. “The amount of signage in the arena is impressive, especially when all of the signage is focused on a single sponsor,” says Young. “There is a large floating sponsor ring above the center hung displays as well as fascia on every level and LED displays at every entrance. It can all be controlled simultaneously to provide sponsors a really impactful way to get their message out.” This gives venues a significant competitive advantage because they can offer sponsors the ability to create an immersion experience that potential customers won’t soon forget. Aside from sponsor domination, the unprecedented number of video screens also allows EnergySolutions Arena to offer many more sponsorship opportunities to other clients. This leads to increased revenue, which helps the investment in digital signage pay for itself.
It’s not just the professional teams that are investing in digital signage for live sports. Young says that the Louisiana State University Tigers recently installed three massive video screens to enhance the fan experience and increase sponsorship.
Young says that arenas are turning to digital signage because of recent technological advances and reduction in cost. With LED technology, the pixel pitch, or the measurement between two adjacent pixels, is customizable, so it’s now possible to build custom screens for almost any budget. “The displays are now more affordable and more energy efficient along with a higher playback and refresh rate,” says Young. With lower starting costs and a high payoff, digital signs can help reverse the trend in attendance and get people back in the stands for sporting events.