IoT's Day in the Sun in Sports, Media and Entertainment
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IoT's Day in the Sun in Sports, Media and Entertainment

Chris White, SVP of IoT Global Sales and GM of Sports and Enter, Cisco

There’s Never Been a Better Time for the Internet of Things in Sports, Media, and Entertainment

Last month at Cisco, we introduced a new worldwide brand campaign entitled, “There’s Never Been a Better Time.” I find that mantra particularly meaningful as I look at the sports, media, and entertainment industries today; there truly has never been a better time to be a sports fan, to attend a live entertainment event, or to truly innovate your brand through digitization and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cisco’s Sports and Entertainment Solutions Group recently conducted a survey of more than 1,500 sports fans worldwide, and the findings show that digital consumption has more than doubled since 2012. Just four short years ago, only 25 percent of fans attending a live sporting event were utilizing social media in-stadium to share their experience. Now that number is almost 50 percent. In 2012, only 18 percent were using their mobile device to find information about the venue versus 35 percent in 2016. Today, approximately 97 percent of fans entering a sports venue bring a mobile phone with them to a sporting event so they can not only connect to Wi-Fi and share their experience, but to also watch video replays, find the shortest concession line or the nearest restroom, and to explore relevant and engaging content that places them at the center of the action.

​IoT is relevant not only to the fans in the stands, but also to the players on the court or the musicians onstage.

But this is only the beginning. According to the survey results, fans are demanding even more connectivity, convenience, and customization. Fans have made it clear that they are looking for:

1. Better and simpler Wi-Fi experience
2. A more immersive mobile and video experience
3. Easier ability to identify and pay for available parking spots

Technology is the key to answering these asks and delivering a more pleasurable fan journey and experience. It’s clear that the demand for connectivity and digital content in the sports sector is insatiable, and we’re seeing the same trends in all aspects of the industry. IoT is relevant not only to the fans in the stands, but also to the players on the court or the musicians onstage. For example, Major League Baseball recently approved the use of two wearable technology devices on players during games – the Motus Baseball Sleeve measures stress on elbows, while the Zephyr Bioharness monitors heart and breathing rates. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s never been a better time to be a connected athlete not only to measure and improve performance, but for monitoring vitals as well as a way of preventative care. The possibilities for integration of IoT into on-field performance via stats and insights are endless.

For the last eight years, Cisco has had a dedicated team in place focused on connecting and digitizing the sports and entertainment industry, which has seen 100 percent annual growth for the past three years. We’re proud to have been a market maker and key innovator in the space for nearly a decade, and with our more than 350 venues in more than 40 countries around the world, we’ve seen a number of trends develop in what we call a “Connected Stadium.” Chief among these trends are the convergence of all communications, entertainment, and operations systems on one platform; the emergence of HD video and digital signage; and the prevalence of high density Wi-Fi coverage, now complemented by related services, such as location-based notifications. The pay-off? A highly-charged, highly-connected fan experience.

And, as connected stadiums meet smart cities and smart transportation, the future feels brighter, safe, and more comfortable. There’s no need to fight traffic to get home if you know your favorite restaurant has a seat available; the connected parking meter showed you the closest and easiest way to find a spot; and let’s not forget about the Wi-Fi on the bus or the train, which allowed you to connect to the pre-game show, but it also saved fuel and sent you on the safest and most efficient way to the venue.

Cisco is also helping to transform the media industry. We are partnering with NBC to enhance their production of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and Cisco video technology will enable delivery of more content to more devices than ever before.

We are on the cusp of the greatest opportunity yet; advanced metrics, deeper insights, and an even more connected environment, which will create personalization of the live event experience tailored to individual patron needs.

For instance, a patron who arrives two hours before the event starts might be interested in a seat upgrade offer, checking out an interactive experience, or enjoying a sit-down meal at one of the venue’s premium restaurants. On the other hand, if that same visitor pulls into the parking lot 20 minutes before game time, he most likely wants to know where he can find the closest parking spot, discover the fastest route to his seat, and have a beer delivered and in his hand by tip-off. Through on-boarding, analytics and smart notification services, brands are able to better understand their customers and provide an in-stadium experience tailored to their individual needs. I personally loved the welcome text I received while walking up to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. I felt like the stadium knew who Chris White was – what I needed, and where I had to go.  

As a passionate sports fan, I have never been as excited and optimistic about the future of the sports, media and entertainment landscape as I am today. There truly has never been a better time for the industry.

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