Fan Engagement: A relentless search to make the fan happy
From gladiators fighting for their lives in Colosseums to players fighting to be champions in stadiums, sporting events always have loyal and regular audience. But to make them loyal or regular, you have to keep them entertained. But how to keep these audience, now we dearly call fans, engaged? How to make them entertained constantly, in our constantly changing world and times?
Fan engagement is such an important factor in the world of sports that billions of dollars go into brainstorming and implementing new ways to engage fans who come to stadiums or watch games on TV at home.
As the sport evolves, teams around the world find new ways to keep up with the rapid technology and fan behaviour. For instance, NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers have their own methods to keep the fan engaged:
- Right when the fan enters the stadium, using Beacon technology and Proximity marketing, the stadium welcomes the fan with some game stats, way to their seat, and other details.
- “Right Experience at the Right Time” as they call it, they let the fans browse Real Time Trivia, Instant Video Replays, In-game stats and many more.
- And for the fans who stay at home and watch matches on their TVs, the Cavs make use of the fan’s other devices like mobile phones and tablets to keep him engaged throughout the game.
Likewise, Dallas Cowboys, an American Football team provides free Wi-Fi for home matches and has the world’s largest LED display of 2100” screen in the stadium to watch the game closely.
Similar things have been happening in the east side of the sports world. Cricket, one of the major sports of the world, has its separate fan base in countries like India, Australia, and England.
Test cricket once used to be a legendary format with so many twists and turns. The fifth-day thrill of the match used to compete with Hitchcock thrillers. But the rapid evolution of white ball cricket and its branching out towards T20 cricket led to a slow death of Test cricket. Even fans don’t want to watch a 5-day match when they can get blockbuster entertainment in a 4-hour T20 match; especially in leagues like IPL and BBL.
Then the secret custodians of Test cricket enthusiasts had a meeting and drawn out a plan to make Test cricket popular again. Introducing Day/Night Test matches is one of the revolutionary events in the history of cricket. Test matches happen during the day time and many fans cannot watch the match due to their professions. But what if the match is happening even after work-hours?
Well, thus came Day/Night format to bring back the glory of Test cricket. On November 27th, 2015, which is the 36th anniversary of D/N ODI cricket, the first D/N Test was played between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide. A record 1,23,736 crowd rushed to the stadium and the members of secret custodian watched with pride and puffed chests.
When the Test cricket seemed like meeting its last days, the sport itself turned up and decided to pull in night shifts. All this to keep the fan engaged and happy. This proves that Fan engagement is no more an addition but a key element in any sport.
India is playing its first Test D/N Test match on 22nd November against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens. “It’s a new way to bring excitement to Test cricket,” said Kohli in a press meet. Even the once reluctant BCCI had to give in to the new format because both the sport and its loyal fans are at stake.
This tells us that fans are the heart of any sporting/entertainment event. Every organization and every sports club has to agree to this and work towards keeping the fan entertained. Otherwise, there’s no show and it’s just the gladiator and a hungry tiger in the ring and no one to cheer for the poor tiger.