Over the past decade, we’ve seen an overwhelming transformation in the NFL fan experience, as new technologies have worked their way into stadiums, front offices, and even onto the playing field. No other league has been so swift to embrace the new high-tech fan experience. As we head into another year that is sure to be filled with technological innovations, the NFL continues to lead the way as they pioneer the in-game use of mobile technologies like RFID and augmented reality.
Technological evolution within the league has been fast and furious since the first wireless networks began cropping up in stadiums in 2012. Today every stadium is wireless, and almost every team has a custom developed mobile app to take advantage of various mobile technologies throughout their venue.
As the 2018 season comes into focus, we’re expecting RFID technology to begin making waves in the NFL. This established technology is widely used in industrial settings, and many of us unknowingly carry around RFID chips in our wallets and on our keychains. But the application of RFID to the gridiron promises to open new horizons in the NFL fan experience that we’ve only imagined before now.
A Quick Overview of RFID Technology
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. Tiny transmitter chips can be integrated into everyday items like credit cards, car keys, and tollway stickers. The tag emits a signal at a designated unique frequency, allowing sensors within range to capture hundreds of data points per second.
In the NFL, the application of RFID tags to players on the field has actually been under way for several years now. RFID tags in each player’s shoulder pads allow coaches to analyze data about the player’s position, speed, and proximity to other players. The upcoming season, however, will be the first time that RFID tags have been added to the football itself.
With precision tracking of the ball’s speed and position – coaches and fans alike will enjoy a new level of statistical precision that will likely have a profound impact on the NFL fan experience over upcoming seasons. Here are 5 areas where we expect big developments:
#5 – Improved Performance in Passing and Special Teams
As coaches begin to receive more precise measurements about the location, speed, and travel of the ball – they will be able to fine-tune many aspects of their team’s on-field performance. RFID player data has already allowed for more precise analysis of blocking schemes and defensive matchups. Now, coaches will be able to apply the same level of scrutiny to the relationship between individual players and the ball itself – creating new insights into the passing game and special teams.
#4 – Personalized In-Game Coaching Opportunities
On any given Sunday, a player’s reaction to the ball will be analyzed in real time – allowing coaches to identify lineman who are slow off the snap and receivers who are straying from their assigned passing routes. Real time passing data will be measured against the quarterback’s historical averages for specific plays and specific throwing targets. The result will be that each team’s coaching staff will be better able to identify unanticipated changes in player performance, and to respond with personalized coaching to get the player back on track.
#3 – In-Depth Play-by-Play Analysis
Coaches won’t be the only ones with access to a new wealth of data about the intricacies of ball movement. Announcers and fans will also gain new insights into passing and special teams plays. Over the years, there has been endless speculation and observation about the impacts of temperature, altitude, and wind speed on ball movement. Now there will be hard data to expose exactly how the ball is responding in real time during every game.
#2 – Augmented Reality (In the Stadium and Online)
We’ve already seen a few early attempts at augmented reality in NFL stadiums, with mobile apps providing interactive maps to show nearby eating options and the shortest restroom lines. But now that RFID technology is present on both the players and the ball, the stage is set to bring the promise of augmented reality to the game itself. In the near future, the fan experience will be transformed as fans get the opportunity to watch the game live with supplementary statistics and information displayed in real time via an augmented reality interface. By wearing special glasses or looking through their smartphone cameras, fans will be able to see a player’s status and game stats while watching the action live on the field.
#1 – A More Personalized Fan Experience
While the immediate effect of RFID tags in NFL footballs will be to uncover data about ball movement; the long-term effect will also expose a lot of information about fan preferences and the overall fan experience. Teams will learn to analyze the actions of their fans (in the real world and online) as the game progresses – opening the door to tailored content and offers for individual fans whose actions correlate to the performance of a specific player or squad. This new dimension in data analytics will allow teams to further personalize the fan experience for their loyal followers.
Bringing Fan Experience Technology to the Tailgating Lot
At TGSM, we work hard to stay ahead of the curve as new technologies continue to enhance fan experience around the league. Our mobile activation assets harness the same mobile technologies that are being adopted inside the stadium – and apply those technologies to the tailgating lot. By broadcasting a free high-speed Wi-Fi signal and employing a spectrum of digital interfaces and beacon sensors, we’re able to gather a wealth of data about NFL fans and their preferences – before they even walk through the gates.
The fan experience we provide is designed to engage fans from the most valuable demographics, and we have demonstrated that our unique assets have a profound impact on the attendance and duration of stay for women and families at tailgating events.
If you would like to learn more about TGSM’s mobile activation assets, and the many ways that they can improve fan experience at your venue – please get in touch with us today. Call us at (888) 995-2285 or contact us online. One of our trained representatives will give you a virtual walk-through and help answer any technical questions you have.