By Mike Cuckow, Sales Director, EMEA & Asia Pacific at Cabletime
Like all sectors, sports stadiums are suffering the ill-effects of the recession. Where previously stadium managers were concerned with ensuring plans were in place to keep an income stream going during the ‘off season’, now there is increased pressure to ensure maximum revenues are being derived from every match, game or event that the stadium hosts all year round.
For many, this income comes from traditional routes: broadcast rights, ticket sales and commercial opportunities such as sponsorship or merchandising; but there are other fruitful sources, including corporate hospitality and, increasingly, maximising networks of displays to offer in-stadium advertising and promotions and to draw visitors towards the bars and restaurants. This is where IPTV and digital media comes in.
Last year, Chesterfield Football Club integrated an IPTV and signage system to a large network of displays in the public and corporate areas of its new stadium. The system gave the club the flexibility to stream the match live to the displays in those areas; in practical terms this meant that fans who wanted to reach the refreshment concourse just prior to half-time, didn’t have to miss any football action. As a result, the Club realised increased sales of refreshments by over 20% within a few short months. In addition, Chesterfield FC used the half-time break to show interviews with players and highlights from the first half which encouraged fans to linger longer – and spend more money at the bar.
Chesterfield is also using the IPTV system to increase revenue through advertising. It is selling ‘broadcast time’ on the screens in the period before the game starts, and because the displays are networked throughout all areas of the stadium, this branding and messaging is reaching the public areas, the conference and banqueting rooms and the stadium itself.
This is valuable to a club like Chesterfield which was determined to realise a good return on its investment in the network and the displays. This type of system puts sports stadium managers in control of the content, so they can use it for any kind of promotional activity.
And it’s not just stadiums, but other sports venues too that can benefit in the same way. Dubai’s iconic Meydan Racecourse uses an IPTV and signage system connected to a massive network of displays, which means that up to 60,000 racegoers at each meeting will see messaging, promotions and live action in the restaurants, private boxes, viewing galleries and the public areas. Meydan Racecourse managers can simultaneously programme informational messages - including safety messages - whilst also streaming live racing or show company videos, presentations, advertising and targeted information. This is a powerful promotional tool.
Most stadiums, even those with the most rudimentary network of displays can utilise IPTV to maximise revenue generation. One of the greatest advantages is that digital media, including Powerpoint presentations and images can be scheduled seamlessly alongside TV, and selectable switching allows stadiums to personalise digital media in different areas of the stadium to support brand sponsorship – of a corporate box, for example. The provision of digital TV on the network also provides stadiums with the ability to deliver HD quality TV across the network. This, together with directional messaging, providing information and encouraging dwell time in bars and restaurants guarantees impact amongst thousands of visitors every year and this will always be an attractive proposition for advertisers.