PhillyDeals: Enhancing the sports-fan experience

For a sports fan, is anything better than being at a live game?

TV networks hope so. They’re using new software to beam alternative camera shots, player stats, and other extras into fans’ smartphones, tablets, and PCs – while also networking ads and collecting viewer data – so home fans can enjoy extra stimulation.

Indeed, remote viewing is becoming so sophisticated stadium and team owners are paying companies like Cisco Systems to make those apps and capabilities available to fans at live games, too.

“Our viewers are engaging us on two or more screens,” Jack Jackson, vice president for digital media product development at NBC Sports Group, told me. “We wanted to go beyond the common box score and provide meaningful insights” beyond what networks can cram on the main screen.

In 2012, NBC hired OneTwoSee, a Center City mobile app platform developer, to “infuse social elements around our broadcasts” for Phillies games on Comcast SportsNet, Jackson said.

NBC and OneTwoSee have since set up programs for Sixers games, too, and for pro teams in other Comcast cities from Boston to California.

“The second screen is absolutely an important platform to reach the audience,” Bo Moon, co-founder of Bloomberg Sports, an arm of Bloomberg L.P., told me. “We have a lot of sports data and we want to get that in front of consumers. Broadcasters might be able to fit one item out of 30 on the air. With additional screens they can see more on a website or an iPad or a smartphone through our partner,” which, for Bloomberg, is also OneTwoSee.

“If our user is watching a baseball game, we tell them the odds of that person getting on base, and how it changes after a strike is thrown. If he hits a ball, we tell them where it is likely to drop,” Moon said.

Do securities traders – Bloomberg’s target audience – bet on such data? “That would be illegal here,” Moon said, laughing. “But in legal markets, they absolutely are betting. Our terminal users are rabid fans.”

After its vital early boost from Comcast NBC, OneTwoSee added its Gametime software platform at FoxSports, the major Canadian TV providers, and others, for a total of 15 networks, said Chris Reynolds, who founded the company with fellow Navteq veteran Jason Angelides.

“The core of our business is using our underlying software platform as a base for all these fan-engagement opportunities,” said Rob Pace, a Motorola and Disney veteran who is now OneTwoSee’s chief business sofficer. “We can deploy our technology in many environments.”

The partners hope that soon will include pro sports venues as well as networks. “Cisco Systems is out retrofitting 150 stadiums with new IT infrastructure to deliver WiFi to the seat. That allows the ticketholder to have an end-user experience through their phone,” said Angelides. “You’ll get a deeper, richer view of the game. And they’ll tell you everything from where the additional parking spaces are near the arena to how long the bathroom line is.”

Cisco plans “a more connected, engaged, and immersive fan experience” at live games, Matt Van Tuinen, spokesman for Cisco Sports Entertainment, told me. “We share a common passion with OneTwoSee and look forward to continuing discussions” on adding its platform atop Cisco’s StadiumVision system. Besides giving fans more to watch, these added services boost team sales by helping target fans for advertising, Van Tuinen said.




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