Sunderland Smash League One Attendance Records

Those of you that follow us will know, we send out a weekly report with attendance figures across all our clubs. As such we have been closely tracking Sunderland’s attendance figures and were already aware that their deeply loyal fan base are turning up in their droves to support them in League One

This has now been confirmed by the club with a press release announcing that Sunderland have had a record breaking number of fans purchase tickets for their Boxing Day fixture against Bradford City.

It just goes to show, whether top flight football or third tier and beyond, Football Fans are stalwarts and will show up week in, week out to support their team. Whilst at least 38,257 Sunderland fans head out on Boxing Day to cheer them on, so will many thousands of other football fans be doing the same thing at their chosen club.

We have advertising space at 35 stadiums nationally with various advertising options. Why not get your brand in front of these fans? Talk to them in their leisure time at the place they think of as a second home. We have unique touch points with fans and can create contextually relevant environments for advertisers.

Find out more about our Football advertising formats here to see what we could do for your business on a local or national level. If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 020 7100 4545 or email


Focus On: Sunderland AFC & The Stadium of Light

With a capacity of 48,707 the Stadium of Light is the sixth biggest football ground in England. Making it Stadia Solutions second biggest ground overall (after Celtic). If that doesn’t make it worthy of its own blog post, I don’t know what does!

Given its name to reflect the strong coal mining history of the region, the stadium features a monument of a Davy lamp outside, to honour the miners of the Wearmouth Colliery, who for many years, carried with them a Davy lamp as part of their working lives.

The much-loved home of Sunderland AFC was completed in 1997 and replaced the club’s former home of Roker Park. The Stadium’s attendance record currently stands at 48,335, when Liverpool visited Wearside in April 2002. It is also a well-respected venue on the European music circuit and often hosts concerts for big name artists.

Our ad formats within the Stadium of Light include 200 A3 washroom posters and 40 large format concourse posters. For further information and the poster specs please click here.

With a successful run of history within top flight football, a period of bad luck/managers has seen Sunderland drop to the third tier at the end of last season.  However 2018/19 could be set to be a very successful season for Sunderland AFC after these back to back relegations in recent years.

Currently sitting in second place in the Football League One table, the ultimate goal of promotion to the championship will be at the forefront of the clubs mind as the race against Pompey for the top spot will really be on after Christmas. The Black Cats are also enjoying a lucrative involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy, where they are expected to qualify top of their group and they have just been drawn to play Walsall away in the second round of the FA Cup.

All of the tournament games played at the Stadium of Light are additional value to our advertisers as we only charge for guaranteed league game fixtures. So The Lads are providing plenty of added value to our customers this season.

We all know Football Fans are a loyal bunch and the average fan attendance of 30,068 so far this season is testament to this.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms or larger concourse six sheet posters at Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light (or any of our other grounds), please email us or drop us a line on 020 7100 4545.

Why are Football Clubs good for local advertising?

Football fans are a wildly diverse bunch. There are very few aspects of modern day life where people of different backgrounds, class, age, race & even political views can find common ground and feel part of a community because of their love for a club. This diversity enables a wealth of targeting opportunities for a huge variety of businesses.

Clubs see hundreds of thousands of fans pass through their turnstiles annually, giving advertisers a broad reach within a unique environment. Football advertising within stadiums reaches fans in their free time at the weekends. This naturally generates longer dwell times than typical OOH advertising, with the average fan spending a leisurely two and a half hours within the stadium on match days.

Placing ads within the local football club gives businesses a link to the club. Fans understand the benefits of football advertising and the support that this provides to their club. In short, association with a club gives businesses a positive affiliation from a fan perspective.

With a number of different advertising formats available advertisers can stick to a single format or create a full user experience, speaking to fans as they enter the stadium, when they are having a drink, when they are watching the pre game coverage on FanTV (available at selected clubs only) and even when they visit the Gents!

What better way to connect a local business to the local community than to strategically place your company’s ad within the local football club?

So you think DOOH is new?

Did you know that Digital Out Of Home has been around for over a hundred years? OK, so it’s not really what we would call Digital Out Of Home/DOOH today, using light bulbs instead of diodes, but really it follows the same principle of using lights to advertise something, it’s just that the lights are a bit smaller today.

Oh, who am I kidding, it’s just a way to showcase a really good episode of a great Podcast called the Memory Palace which has a tenuous link to what we do here at Stadia Solutions; have a read/listen here:

Stadia Solutions weekend report 6th August 2018

This week sees the start of the EFL and SPL seasons and the last pre-season friendlies from our Premier League clubs, and it delivered a great start to the season for our advertisers across the 22 of our clubs that were in action.

In total we had 322,702 fans come through our collective turnstiles this week, which is a very strong weekend for us, but the best bit was that over 75,000 of these fans were at friendlies at five of our EPL clubs (Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Southampton, Watford and Wolves, and one Europe League match (Aberdeen at Burnley).

Why is this the best bit for our season-long advertisers? Because they didn’t pay for it. Because we cannot guarantee how many there will be we never charge season-long advertisers for cup games and friendlies, so yes it’s a great start to the season for our customers at those grounds.

In total we achieved average attendance of nearly 15,000 per match.

Next weekend sees the start of the EPL so expect these numbers to go even higher.

Our match of the week: It has to be Burnley’s progression to the Europa League play-off round thanks to them getting past Aberdeen.

Top fives attendances this week:
1. Celtic v. Livingstone (58,778)
2. Sunderland v. Charlton (31,079)
3. West Brom v. Bolton (25,901)
4. Sheffield United v. Swansea (24,654)
5. Wolves v. Villareal (19,062)

Holy smokes! Smoking-related advertising opportunities at the football?

If you smoke, or used to smoke, you’ll know sometimes it is difficult going to live events where you aren’t allowed to have a puff.

And it’s no different at the football.

You’re forced to go without a ciggie for three to four hours while you enjoy the game, have a couple of beers and get some grub, because the vast majority of professional grounds in the UK don’t allow smoking one you get through the turnstiles.

At Stadia Solutions we like to look at the angles and unearth advertising opportunities that others may miss. And we think we’ve come up with a pretty good one…

If you’re a brand, product or service aimed at smokers or vapers, you’re probably after an audience more likely to smoke than the national average.

And what about if you could advertise to them when they cannot smoke?

Even better, what if they had their mobile phone on them which enables them to buy what you’re selling there and then or sign up to your stop-smoking campaign?

Well, that’s the football audience, their mindset and our environment isn’t it:

– Football fans are more likely to smoke than the national average

– None of our stadia allow smoking past the turnstiles

– All of our stadia have 3G/4G/WiFi coverage

You can choose whether to use our TV screens (perfect for running TV or Youtube ad content), washrooms posters (for one-on-one engagement) or concourse six sheet posters (great for social engagement as groups of fans gather before and after the game, as well as at half-time).

These alone must make us one of the best choices in Out Of Home (OOH) for vaping or smoking-related advertising.

But we can go even further than that:

If you’re a vaping advertiser, some of our 40+ clubs will entertain the idea of stocking products so you can turn your campaign in to the ultimate Direct Response campaign as the audience can buy and use products there and then.

One club has said they would even consider a branded vaping area on each concourse.

Some will let us provide branded ashtrays and brand up existing smoking areas to enable the most targeted smoking audience possible.

If nothing else, advertising at football clubs if a simple way to get smoking-related advertising in front of people who are more likely to smoke than the national average.

Add in everything else to do with the physical environment and the mindset of the smokers when they see our ad sites, and you could say our offering is, well, ‘smoking’… And you certainly won’t be the ‘butt’ of any advertising jokes… One could you say you will ‘light up’ your market share… Ok, I’ll stop.

If you would like to talk to us about our stadia matchday advertising opportunities, please feel free to get in touch with a member of the sales team on 020 7100 4545 or email

Focus on: Burnley Football Club & Turf Moor

Finishing the 2017/2018 season in 7th place meant Burnley was our highest finishing English club last season. But we don't think that was what motivated them to do so well last term, it more likely to be the resulting qualification for the UEFA Europa League competition that such a league finish results in.

And that means this season we will be seeing European football at Turf Moor, starting with - and hopefully not ending with - a second leg home tie in the qualifying round with Aberdeen.

And remember, this and any other cup fixtures are included for free when you book a season-long campaign; we only charge for home league fixtures.

At the Turf Moor we've got a selection of over 100 OOH advertising poster frames, and here are some photos of some of them:

Last year on the way to their 7th place EPL finish, an average home league attendance of 20,688. The highest attended game in the season was when Manchester United visited resulting in a crowd of 21,841.

Cup-wise the season provided an extra fixture for advertisers through the home tie in the Carabao Cup against Leeds United. The other cup games were all away from home.

Stadia Solutions provides an affordable way for businesses around Burnley to reach potential local customers. Our packages also provide a way for any business to show support for the Clarets, and take advantage of the positive association advertising to fans at their ground brings. But if nothing else we are one of the most efficient ways to advertise to over and advertise to over 400,000 people across the 2018/2019 season.

Advertising on Turf Moor’s concourse and washroom posters is a unique opportunity to get your business in front of a passionate audience and be associated with a club that really seems to be going places.

For more info and specs CLICK HERE.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms or larger concourse six sheet posters Burnley FC's Turf Moor (or any of our other grounds), please drop us a line on or call 020 7100 4545.

Focus on: Notts County

Notts County Football Club, or the Magpies, founded in 1862, is the oldest professional football club in the world. It currently competes in League Two but its rich history includes periods of success (such as an FA Cup victory) and struggle (several financial crises) across all four divisions of English professional football.

Notts County’s home is Meadow Lane where they first started playing in 1910 and have remained there since. They traditionally play in black and white striped shirts and lent their colours to Juventus in 1903.

The average attendance in the 2017/2018 season was 7,911 per match. The club has also a very large overseas following, with one of the highest number of overseas fans in the Football League - mostly from Italy and Hungary!

Stadia Solutions - The official concourse advertising partner of Notts County FC - provides an affordable way for businesses to reach new customers. Our packages provide a way for any business to show support for the Pies, and advertise to over 230,000 potential customers across the season.

Advertising at Meadow Lane’s posters and FanTV is a unique opportunity to get your business in front of a passionate audience and be associated with the traditional club.

For more info and specs CLICK HERE.


If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at Notts County or one of our other grounds, please drop us a line on or call 020 7100 4545.

Root for your roots – a great idea

It’s quite rare that a marketing idea stops me in my tracks and makes me say ‘wow’. That’s not because I don’t like ideas, I think it’s more because there are too many, well, crap ideas out there that they all tend to merge in to one giant crappy idea ball.

I could go on for ages about what makes a good marketing idea, but I won’t, and instead will just tell you the problem and the solution the idea delivered.

The Background: Fox Sports in the USA paid $400m for the US broadcast rights for the 2018 & 2022 FIFA World Cups.

The Problem: The USA team fell at the last hurdle in qualifying and didn’t make it to the 2018 tournament going on at the moment in Russia. The real problem for Fox being that the domestic TV audience was likely to be way down on the forecasts when they bid for the rights.

The Question: How could they fill some or all of this likely drop in audience?

The Solution: Work with a DNA analysis company (23andme) to let people look at their ancestry composition and work out a substitute team to support on Fox Sports during the tournament. You can read more about the idea here.

Is it going to make up for the millions of bucks lost? Of course not. But is it a great idea? I think so.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve got English, German and Polish DNA so I should have a pretty good World Cup even if the Big Red Machine doesn’t keep banging in the goals for us. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

These are the best World Cup adverts ever!!

It’s the eve of the World Cup, so we thought we should talk about the most important thing to do with it: advertising!

Only joking, we know it’s not the most important thing, that’s the Fantasy Football league we’re running in the office, but we ARE going to talk about advertising - it's kind of what we do.

In particular we’re going to look at the best and worst World Cup-associated advertising that we can remember… The list has been shortlisted by Mat and voted on by the team in the office today. Yes, it really is that scientific & official.

Some of you may be asking why we’re getting involved in the World Cup with a blog post on it when we focus on domestic football in England, Wales & Scotland. We say, why not jump on the World Cup bandwagon – everyone else is.

Before we go anywhere, this gives us the chance to honour and remember the best football advert ever made, regardless of its non-association with the World Cup:

Sky Sports PL coverage 1996/1997 with Sean Bean

But that's enough about my man crush of late-90's Sean Bean...

So without further a-do let's get on with our top eight (sorry, we got a bit bored at eight) all-time best World Cup football advertisements ever!! (I'm very excited, can you tell?).

In joint seventh place we have two entrants from the same company. Nike are renowned for their World Cup advertising, and I remember reading a study somewhere that asked people who they thought were an official FIFA World Cup sponsor, Adidas or Nike. And guess what? Adidas were/are the partner but people thought it was Nike simply because of their surrounding advertising. Advertising like these two great pieces of content:

Nike Secret Tournament 2002

Nike ‘Good v Evil’ 1996

In sixth place we've got this from an official partner of multiple FIFA World Cups, McDonald's.

I'm not sure if this is the best ad in the world, but as it features one of our favourite midfielders from the 2000's (Scott Parker), it makes the cut:

McDonald’s and Scott Parker 1994

Next we've got a beer brand from 2010. Not the best World Cup in my book, in fact this advert made me feel a bit better about the whole thing. I think it was the vuvuzela's that did it for me. That and the fact England were poor in scraping in to the knockout stages after draws against Algeria and the U.S.A., only to get bashed up by Germany 4-1 in the second round (when Lampard scored but didn't score if memory serves correct).

Anyway, we liked this effort because it reminded us that we're pretty good at sport when we take a step back and think about it - Redgrave, Fogarty, Taylor etc...

Carlsberg Team Talk 2010

I've lost count now, but I think we're at number 4 on our countdown. And that means another entry for Nike (it's almost as if they spend millions and millions of pounds a year making advertising isn't it):

Nike ‘Winner Stays On’ 2014

So to number 3. Some call this slot the bronze medal position. In this countdown we'll call it winner of the third-place play-off (what's the point of those by the way?). And this one is the most recent one our list, fresh from Lidl's association with the FA. I liked it because it showed the talent involved (Raheem Sterling, Gary Cahill & Kyle Walker) as being decent, normal people. Well done Lidl.

Now to the first placed loser. They've made their way through the group stages, three rounds of knockout matches and then lost. They are losing finalists. AND IT'S ONLY ANOTHER ONE FROM NIKE ISN'T IT!?!??

But hopefully you'll agree this is a really good one, from France 1998 following the Brazil team that Nike sponsor as they check in at the airport to get the plane to Paris.

Most people think this was a structured/planned shoot but actually was shot completely naturally - this is how Ronaldo, Roberto et al always check in at the airport even when the cameras aren't rolling (it's really annoying for other passengers) although maybe not now as they are all about 50 I guess. Enjoy...

Nike ‘Airport’ 1998

Well done, you made it to the end. How on earth did you get this far? Well seeing you're here we'd better tell you who won!!

And this really was the runaway winner in the office vote. It had it all, and if you don't believe me just read this list (yes we made a list):

Nostalgia - tick

World Cup legends - tick

Bacon sandwiches - tick

Chris Waddle-related banter - tick

Beer - tick

And, seriously for a second, some performances from some of the people who make football so great for us who are no longer with us.

Probably the best World Cup advert in the world.

Carlsberg ‘Old Lions’ 2006

That’s it! COME ON ENGLAND!!

And remember if you would like to continue football-advertising-fever in to the 2018/2019 domestic season, the Stadia Solutions are ideally placed to help you with our advertising posters in 39 professional clubs across the country from Celtic in the north to Portsmouth in the south, including concourse TV systems in eleven of them. Get in touch with us to see how we can get your advertising in front of up to 400k fans a week…


PS - James in the office says this needs to go on the list even though it's not an advert:

Comic Relief & the England football team

Premier League Advertising Opportunity – Wolves FC

With a huge heritage, increasing attendances, new owners, new manager and record signings – Wolves clearly showed ambition to get themselves ready for the Premier League. The team won the 2017–18 EFL Championship and will compete in the top tier of English football league system for the first time since the 2011–12 season.

Stadia Solutions - The official concourse advertising partner of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC - provides an affordable way for businesses to reach new customers. Stadia Solutions’ upgrade to nearly 100 FanTV screens at the ground means more stats as well as the live action on the pitch, but also a new local advertising platform, alongside 100+ posters all around the ground.

Our packages provide a way for any business to show support for Wolves, and advertise to over 500,000 potential customers across the season.







Advertising at The Molineux, home to the best football in the world next season, is a unique opportunity to get your business in front of a passionate audience and be associated with a Premier League club.

For more info, poster specs and the stadium map CLICK HERE.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at Wolves or one of our other grounds, please drop us a line on or call 020 7100 4545.

Our new advertising website

As you may have noticed, we've spent a bit of time of our website recently to make it easier for potential advertisers to see what we've got to offer. Well, more to the point, to show potential advertisers the different ways they can access the 350k-400k football fans that go through our clubs' turnstiles each week.

If you think we're missing anything then please feel free to reach out and tell us, after all we want this section of the website to be as easy to use as possible, as well as being as relevant as possible.

So the section starts with the main advertising page It's a simple enough structure with everything running from the menu at the top of the page. In here you'll find a page on each format:

  • FanTV - our concourse TV system giving brands the chance to advertise to fans on matchday who are being entertained by the TV content being shown on screen
  • Six sheets - our larger format concourse paper posters placed around each ground offering engagement with fans in groups while they are likely talking about the game or something else to do with the club
  • A3 posters - we've got over 5,000 A3 sized posters in washrooms giving advertisers that desired one-on-one engagement for 30-60 seconds. These offer relatively high frequency as well with most fans visiting the loos three or four times per game

You'll also find links to our advertising social media accounts, too: Twitter and LinkedIn

You can then have a look at our map, which shows you where each of our clubs are - this will be developed as time goes by to give more information on each club.

Next we have a clickable list of our clubs (which you can also access from the main menu league by league) which will give you a direct link to a page on every club we work for, from Celtic in the North to Portsmouth in the South.

Lastly we have a few images on our gallery, although if you want images for specific clubs then you can find them on each club's page, along with the advertising poster specs.

That's it, not the most exciting blog post in the world but hopefully a useful one. If you think of anything that we can add to the site to make things easier for you,  or if you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at one or more of our grounds, please drop us a line on or call 020 7100 4545.

What a great audience you’ve been…

How do you know who sees your Out Of Home advertisement? What, or whose, numbers are you buying and using when you plan your campaign to decide what should be spent where? How do you know these numbers are correct and/or reliable?

These are some of the questions that many advertisers have in their mind when thinking about buying particular sites from, or working with, a media owner.

And (usually after seeing how great we are at delivering audiences in large quantities pretty quickly) we get similar questions posed to us when talking to prospective advertisers.

So, what we thought we would do today is start a new series of blog posts which dive in depth in to what can seem to be the murky waters of OOH audience measurement. Spoiler alert: it’s not so murky as you think.

The big advantage we have over most OOH media owners is that we don’t have to guess our footfall. How come? Simply it comes down to ticketing – we know exactly how many people are in each of our grounds for each game, and so do you, just tune in to Sky Sports Football Centre on a Saturday afternoon and any updates in the second half will have the attendance detailed.

It is pretty immediate as well. In fact, with the advent of digital turnstiles (think Oyster cards & barcodes) at many grounds we know how many are in the ground on an hourly basis. For example, did you know that roughly 15% of fans turn up over an hour before Saturday 3pm kick-offs? (We’ll be exploring these data more in the future in-case you’re interested.)

We can get clever, through our use of WiFi tracking. and work out audience flows around the grounds. We can use this to make sure your advertising gets in front of the groups within our audience that you want to target. And I bet you didn't know this, but we actually work with stadium operations & security teams to make sure our concourse sites go in places where people congregate (meaning you get dwell time and the stadium gets optimal customer flow).

We can also make some pretty robust assumptions about OTS & impacts through looking at how many times on average each fan visits the bar and toilets on matchdays.

Hopefully you’ll agree that, as we said earlier, it’s pretty easy to build an accurate picture of how many people see each of our sites.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of your company advertising on either our A3 posters in washrooms, larger concourse six sheet posters or our concourse TV systems at one or more of our 40+ grounds, please drop us a line on or call 020 7100 4545 and ask for Mat Court.

Time For Small Clubs To Play A Smart Commercial Game

Football may seem like it’s awash with money, but away from the biggest clubs, most need to find new streams of revenue, says Stadia Solutions' James Cook...

Football may seem like it’s awash with money, but away from the biggest clubs, most need to find new streams of revenue.

Outside of the Premier League, where TV money provides a safety net, smaller clubs have more urgency to unlock incremental and sustainable sources of income.

As my role involves building commercial partnerships with clubs, I spend a lot of time talking to clubs of all sizes in different leagues. The more I meet, the more optimistic I feel about new commercial opportunities that can be explored, but are as yet untapped.

Take a typical lower-league club with an ageing ground in the middle of a town or city. That’s a prime piece of real estate, highly visible in the local community – most likely surrounded by passing traffic and often close to shops and public transport. Why then, are so many of these venues apparently closed for business outside of home match days? Clubs need to think how they can make their stadium pay – not just on match days, but 365 days a year.

You can see this thinking with many of the new stadia being built around the country. No new project gets off the ground unless the stadium is integrated with other revenue-generating assets – a hotel, shops, cinemas and restaurants. The modern stadium has become a multi-purpose venue that has football at its core, but plays a larger role as a focal point in the community, attracting business day after day, throughout the year.

Smaller clubs may think, “that’s fine for Roman Abramovich, but we have a 100 year-old ground where the only ‘incremental revenue’ is food and drink.”

But it’s not too late to adopt a smaller-scale version of this new way of thinking. In fact, it could be the key to keeping the club afloat in the long term.

Advertising, using screens outside the ground, is an obvious place to start. Think again about that central position the club may have in the community. Think of the traffic passing, the volume of people who see your club every day. Advertising screens on the outside of the ground – looking out into the community, as opposed to inside only – are a real opportunity. Remember, your value as an advertising medium in this context has nothing to do with your league position. It is all to do with location, position and passing eyeballs. You could be sitting on a prime piece of outdoor media.

Inside the ground, think about how you can drive new revenues on match and non-match days. When the ground is full of fans for a home fixture, concourse TV can provide an important advertising medium, but only if you add value for the fans by also providing relevant and targeted content that adds to the match-day experience.

You may not even need to buy these screens – a model whereby the advertising revenue is shared in return for installation of the hardware, is possible. The same is true for wi-fi networks, in the stadium bowl and in the hospitality areas. Wi-fi is increasingly being used as a money-making platform by sports clubs, in football and beyond, particularly in the U.S. Whether its betting or merchandise sales, engaging with fans and visitors online can enhance their experience and unlock new commercial opportunities. Up-front investment is not always necessary - there are many business models that can make it affordable and profitable.

Another key opportunity is to think about what the ground can host outside of the relatively small number of home fixtures in the football season. No asset of this size should shut its doors and go quiet for weeks and months on end. Music concerts, corporate events are just two opportunities that can be explored – think of the ground as a venue in the widest sense. And remember, that in order to attract this kind of extra business, it pays to have some attractive inventory and assets to offer – such as wi-fi or digital signage. Forward-thinking investment will help to bring the business in.

Finding these sustainable revenue streams can make all the difference for a smaller club, as it is more achievable to balance its on-pitch investment, with off-pitch income. If you have the wage bill and transfer costs of Manchester United, you’re not going to make that back with some advertising and Coldplay doing a gig in August. And in any case, the TV money is there to protect you.

However, if you’re lower league, your off-pitch income can account for a far larger share of the overall business and could perhaps balance the costs of the team on the pitch. It may not be necessary to do that much in order to find enough revenue opportunities to sustain the business for seasons to come.

None of this is easy, and every club’s situation is different. But many are so focused on the day-to-day struggles of football, that these wider possibilities are missed. As the commentators like to say, football is a game of two halves, after all.

The Trends that are Redefining the Match Day Experience

The way we consume sports has changed dramatically over recent years. Attending a sports event is no longer only about watching a sporting contest, but increasingly involves the 360° social experience associated with it. With constant access to information, and strong competition for the in-home experience, fans’ demands continue to grow, and event organisers are expected to provide an enhanced live fan experience.

The evolution of the match day experience means that organisers are tasked with creating a more connected, engaging, and interactive environment. Fans are not just simple spectators, and sports facilities need to become highly adaptive entertainment destinations for before, during and after the event to accommodate this.

Modern venues are no longer focusing solely on increasing their tickets sales (for example, the Premier League stadia, tend to sell out long before the event) but increasingly on finding new & innovative ways to drive revenues, getting more sponsors involved, and building stronger relationships with the fans.

The most recent trends that are likely to redefine the game experience will not only open new data and revenue streams for the venues. They will also give them a chance to better understand who their fans are, and how to engage with them efficiently.

1. Increased importance of pre and post-match fan engagement

The match experience no longer starts when fans sit down in their seats, but much earlier. Even before they arrive to the stadium. Attendees are likely to begin their match day with social media activity and pre-game pub meetings. This opens up a great opportunity for venues to become much more than just a place for fans to watch sports, and focus on providing whole-day entertainment.

New, high quality concourses and hospitality lounges encourage early arrival, and increase fan engagement opportunities with the event organisers. Digital in-stadia platforms allow fans to check the latest news at the venue, watch the early kick-off games and get in the mood for their game. More and more clubs opt for their own NFL-like fan zones and encourage them to come to the events earlier, extending the fan experience to an out-of-stadium environment.

West Brom’s first ever fan zone proved successful, as live music, big screen TV, games, and family fun provided a vibrant and entertaining build up to kick-off. The new supporter-dedicated area became a great gathering point for fans of all ages to soak up the match day atmosphere.

Back in 2010, Manchester City launched their new match day feature: BT City Square. The pre-match entertainment area lets fans gather together ahead of the day’s game and soak up the atmosphere. The club has also taken full advantage of that additional commercial opportunity, and agreed a ground-breaking deal with BT Sport to sponsor the fan zone, helping to make it one of the biggest permanent fan zones in the country.

2. Organisers to become content providers

With growing fan demand for live and exclusive info, venues are expected to provide both reliable connectivity and live game content. Second-screening has become so natural to fans that Wi-Fi and in-stadia mobile apps are no longer considered innovations but, increasingly, a necessity. According to Future’s Foundation research, 69% of fans agree that improving the quality of WiFi connectivity within stadia would significantly improve their overall match day experience. Such necessities are a great complement to other interactive technologies, such as FanTV, being implemented in stadiums.

The Trends that are Redefining the Game Day Experience Stadium Connectivity Chart

Live content feeds (including stats and betting odds), news, and club updates allow fans to stay on top of the sporting events, and encourage them to get engaged with their team, club partners and other fans. This leads to a more enjoyable experience for the fans, as well as increased customer loyalty and higher revenues for the venue operators. In fact, 67% of fans expressed their interest in accessing exclusive content before/after the event, and using their mobile to access content displayed on giant screens.

3. Fans to become active participants of the event

Nowadays, the live sport experience is up against stiff competition from broadcasters as TV coverage becomes more widespread and innovative. Venues need to ensure they offer a more immersive experience than watching the game at home, which features instant replays and expert insights.

The fans’ chance to take part in man-of-the-match voting, enjoy real-time reactive screen content (as seen on the LED screen pictured below), or get involved in social media conversations directly from the stadium, brings the best bits of TV viewing, with the bonus of live action, to their match day experience.

Getting to know the fans better has become one of the main priorities of venue operators, as it leads to greater commercial and marketing opportunities. Therefore, understanding consumer data gathered through mobile apps, Wi-Fi connections and social media involvement is vital for tailoring messages and services for all interested parties.

4. Global audience – the stadium is just the start…

Despite the game remaining as the main focus of match day, the way we consume events has shifted towards being constantly connected with those outside of the stadium. Be it the keyboard warrior watching the game at home, or the mates down the road in the pub; fans love to share fan-to-fan content online, e.g. on Twitter, and engage with a wide audience of their family and friends on mobile.

It’s therefore become increasingly important for clubs to develop an effective and engaging social media strategy for those potential customers. Creating a sense of community and improving engagement beyond a local level has proven vital for sustained success.

Manchester United, for example, have created a social media dashboard that incorporates all their social media activity into one page, and is available in 6 different languages. This expands their international fan base – and helps the dedicated fan watching in a bar in Bangkok connect with those in the stadium.

Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, along with the launch of the WiFi in the stadium, added a match day-mode to its official mobile app, which allows the BVB fans to decide how they want to follow the match. The 3 available options that keep the fans up to date with the most relevant info are:

  1. I am in the stadium
  2. I am following the game live on TV/radio
  3. I am on the road and only need the most important info

This approach uses targeted content to encourage both local and international fans to stay engaged during the whole match day – whether at home or away.

Conclusion: The match day experience of tomorrow

The match day experience is constantly evolving – from standing-only terraces to luxury lounges – and will continue to do so as venues race to improve connectivity and become closer to their attendees.

The way fans support their teams has also changed, as smartphones have become a permanent addition to our lives, making social media activity (arguably) as important as real-life interaction.

Even though expected innovations, like mobile F&B ordering and delivery, instant replays, and beacons, have not become the norm in UK venues yet, new technologies are finding their way into the stadium every day.

And looking outside of the stadium, Virtual Reality technologies could soon become new competitors for venues, as they will be able to provide a stadium-like experience for fans at home.

These could bring both benefits and challenges to sports venue operators, but should ultimately be treated as opportunities to build stronger relationships, bigger fanbases, and increase sponsor value.