Enhancing sports with audiovisual

Getting fans back to their seats with AV

Football. Or Football. Basketball and Hockey. All the other sports from around the world. Each of these enterprises have become increasingly sophisticated in their television, and Internet, broadcasts of their games. With stats, graphics, on-field audio through player mics, and behind the benches shots, they take us the audience places we could have never been. And that’s a problem.

I am an unabashed Chicago Bears football fan. I love my St. Louis Blues hockey. If given the choice between heading up to Soldier Field or driving to downtown St. Louis to watch one of my favorite teams in person or watching the same game on television there was a time that the television experience was the better option.

Depending on where you were in the venue, it could be argued that you will certainly see more of the game, get more information about the players and opposing team, not spend so much on parking, food, and the like, and have a better overall experience sitting on your own couch. Sports franchises have begun to realize this and have made serious overhauls to the fan experience in person.

Now, the price of a beer and food has not gone down. What has changed is the venues and the games themselves have become more of an experience. More of an audiovisual experience to be more precise.

Our friends at Westbury National have been involved in some of the most creative ice and basketball projection displays. My personal favorite is still that of the Toronto Maple Leaves. You can check out these others as well. These displays take the playing field and really create a unique audiovisual experience that you cannot get anywhere else.

Teams are starting to experiment with real-time augmented reality (AR) stats of players on the field. Those in the seats can highlight a player with their mobile device and connect that with various fantasy sports apps to see how that particular player is helping the fans’ own fantasy team. The displays are evolving as well.

This week the World Series has begun in Boston. Fenway still boasts an old-school scoreboard that requires a person to sit behind it and change physical numbers as the score changes. This is an outlier of a bigger trend of replacing scoreboards across sports franchises. Samsung has installed some large format stadium displays across the U.S. in both college and pro teams. As my Bears fell to the Miami Dolphins I could witness one of these at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

At my own Enterprise Center in St. Louis where the Blues play, they have upgraded their center ice experience to include not only higher resolution displays but an impressive line array audio system with the subs to back up whatever sound they want to recreate. This is not some tin-can sounding public address system. The sound quality throughout the venue is relatively even, clear, and powerful. I walked the venue when it was first installed and to say it was an impressive experience would be a bit of an understatement.

These installations are not your typical audiovisual projects. They are a combination of digital signage, dynamic content creation, live staging that has been permanently installed, and a robust AV network to make it all run. It takes a multi-discipline team to pull it off. If you can, you can bring those fans out of their living rooms and back into the seats.

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