This interview with Samsung is part of “Fan XP” – a newsletter designed to keep you abreast of the latest innovations, strategies and more regarding fan experience across the globe. To sign up, please click here.
It is a continuous worry for event organisers that people who currently make the effort to attend will, sooner or later, prefer to experience the occasion in the comfort of their own home rather than ‘live’.
For several years, media and technology companies have acknowledged that there is nothing quite like being at an event in person. For that reason, they have taken viewers “closer to the action” with production innovations such as enhanced sound and picture quality and new camera angles.
Last year, several of them went a step further by offering virtual reality coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, giving viewers the chance to watch the action as if they were inside the stadium itself.
However, whereas there have been increasing attempts to replicate the ‘live experience’ at home in recent years, there are signs that proactive event hosts and stadium operators are now pivoting 180 degrees to replicate aspects of the home experience at the venues.
This is especially the case for sports that face a challenge to attract new generations of fans, according to David Birkett, Business Development Manager, LED European Display Organisation at Samsung Electronics Europe.
Birkett told us: “As I’m talking to cricket and other sports clubs generally, they are all aware that their audiences are getting older so they’re trying to get younger fans interested and affiliated with the club. If a club can encourage brand loyalty at a young age, that can carry on into adulthood.
“Clubs have identified that one of the ways in which to achieve this is via digital signage. Younger spectators have all got mobile phones and tablets and they’re expecting to be able to experience something similar at a stadium.”
Samsung recently struck a deal to serve as the official display and presentation partner at Lancashire Cricket Club.
Samsung has provided two 60-metre square screens and two 56-metre mid-tier LED ribbons across two of the main stands at the club’s 23,500-capacity Emirates Old Trafford stadium, providing an enhanced presentation of scoring, graphics, animations, video and crowd interaction.
According to Lancashire Chief Executive Daniel Gidney (pictured right), it is the first cricket ground in the UK to have the mid-tier LED boards, “which will enable us to offer better communications with our fans and provide a much more sophisticated match day experience”.
Damon Crowhurst, Head of Display at Samsung UK (pictured left), said the screens will “create a more welcoming and engaging connected customer experience”.
The new project builds on installations already in place at other sports venues in the US, including the homes of the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Hawks and DC United.
Birkett added: “We hear that the common challenge facing everyone is how to get people out of their living rooms and into the stadium. After all, you can watch the action at home in incredible detail.
“In the US there have been huge 60-metre-wide screens installed specifically to replicate the experience as if you were at home. From the halfway line of the pitch to your seat it is like you are in your living room.
“You can end up watching the game on the big screens, but it doesn’t dilute the experience. You see this a lot at music concerts where the star is a small dot in the distance, but you can watch them up close on the giant screen. In fact, I think it massively enhances the experience.”
Birkett added that the screens allow for “digital fireworks” to be triggered at certain points in a match, whether it is a six, a wicket or someone scoring a century.
“Cricket has been a fairly early adopter of electronic scoreboards,” he added. “However, that phase is now coming to an end and moving into a more sophisticated era.”