Fan experience is a fundamental part of any form of entertainment. For sport, it can be difficult to ensure a good fan experience due to the nature of the game, there’s always a loser and being on the losing end is no treat. However, no matter the performance, there are ways to guarantee a good fan experience. Today, sport viewership behaviour and fan desires have changed, since the days of TV broadcasts and small capacity stadiums, fans need more stimulating and expect more from their beloved clubs. With increasing technology, we now have access to a variety of methods to make sure fans get a memorable experience.
The Stadium Experience
The stadium is the heart of many sports, it’s where memories are created, trophies are lifted and somewhere you dream of going as a kid. Therefore, it’s important not to disappoint once fans arrive. For example, fans dream of walking the steps to Wembley or hearing the engines roar down the Hamilton straight at Silverstone, and if you were to finally get there and it’s old and boring, not only will it be soul crushing but they aren’t likely to return. A few features are key for the stadium experience to ensure a positive fan experience.
- Accessibility for fans
- Up to date/ easy to use technology.
- Landmarks (e.g., Thierry Henry statue, the White Arch at Wembley)
- Good service and a wide variety of food, and drink
Without these, fans will be left disappointed. Although the more loyal fans will still return to the stadium, those who don’t have easy access to the stadium aren’t likely to return. As mentioned earlier, fan expectations are changing (and rising), and along with the game, fans want a day out experience. A great example is the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The newly developed stadium offers a great entertainment package. Such as a top of the range bar, plasma screens around the stadium and roof walks. These exclusive features were a first in the football world. Traditionally football stadiums were never built for fan experiences, the experience was left up to the game. If stadiums begin to announce new, exciting features, it will help retain existing fans as well as attract new audiences wanting to see what the craze is all about.
Content is king and having engaging and interactive content will help meet your fans’ needs. Social media posts, Tweets, YouTube videos and TikTok’s are what your fans will engage with when they are waiting for the next game. So, making sure you have content going out is important if you want to keep their attention. If you manage to have a constant conversation with your fans, they will be easier to promote to when it comes to selling tickets and merchandise as they are already interested in what you have to say.
In the day and age of on-demand content and entertainment, we need to understand what fans want. Live updates, match highlights and news directly from the club, in my opinion, is a necessity and is now expected. So, to create an experience like no other, we need to think outside the box. This is where behind-the-scenes, more personal content should be utilised. There is endless data and case studies to prove fans want to know personal details. They want to see their favourite sport stars in the natural light. So much so, streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon have released series of behind the scenes of top sports which has seen high levels of views and appraisal. Training clips, individual interviews and day in the lives are all great examples of easy and well-received content. This will create a sense of community with the fans and a positive experience.
Twitter’s echo chamber, TikTok’s algorithm and Spotify wrapped are all examples of hyper-personalisation. This is when content is centred around your activity, behaviour, and any other data you have supplied – a fantastic tool to help engage fans. Hyper-personalisation helps fans feel as though they are being contacted or targeted directly. If fans are bombarded with content they don’t want, it could drive them away. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are creating interactive content that is personalised to your audience. You can do this by analysing your social media reports and separating your audience into groups based on demographics and interests. Once your report is fully analysed you can create content to target separate categories of people. This will increase the overall fan experience as fans will see the content they want to interact with.
To increase fan engagement, you must prioritise the fan experience as that is the driving factor for your fans to return to your organisation. Fan engagement and a positive fan experience is a catalyst for a sustainable revenue stream. However, organisations are leaving money on the table, ignoring opportunities through existing content.