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NHL arms teams with mobile apps for in-stadium engagement

The National Hockey League has rolled out team-specific apps for nearly half of its professional teams that let fans keep tabs on their favorite teams.

Fourteen of the 30 NHL teams have launched apps so far. The apps give the teams a way to better control in-stadium and at-home experiences.

"League-level apps are great for up-to-the-minute news, scores and highlights, but diehard fans crave a more intimate connection with their favorite teams," said Dave Goldstein, account director of sports apps at Appboy, New York.

"To satisfy the dream of being inside the locker room, the NHL needs specific team apps to create a more immersive, targeted experience," he said. "We're already seeing an uptick in mobile engagement with Jumbotron connectivity and seat upgrades at live games, but individual apps with up-to-the-minute player news, exclusive offers, deals at concessions and more would only help feed the mania and better cater to the specific personalities of a team's fans."

Mr. Goldstein is not affiliated with NHL. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

NHL did not meet press deadline.

Play on mobile
The NHL apps are branded by teams and are available in Apple?s App Store and Google Play.

The apps include real-time data about a game, and sports fans can also access post-game video highlights and additional content before and after games.

Consumers can also set multiple alert settings for teams that are tailored for team or game information.

The app?s video and editorial feeds are also customized within the app.

Social media is also heavily played up within the apps, and team-specific Facebook and Twitter feeds are pulled into the content.

The apps are meant to serve as a hub so that sports fans have all of the information about a team stored for easy access.

More data
The NHL has been active in mobile for quite some time.

In 2011, the sports organization updated its popular GameCenter app to give sports fans closer access to their favorite teams (see story).

In particular, the NHL is actively pushing mobile video and live streaming, which is still relatively new for many marketers.

At the beginning of this year, the NHL revamped its Android app with a ticker and notifications (see story).

What is different about this initiative though is that the sports organization is giving the teams themselves tools to better connect with fans at a local level .

The NHL is also likely getting some better insights about mobile users with the new apps, such as how long consumers are spending within the app and what kinds of information they are looking for.

As more sports organizations nail the basics of mobile with content, the next big push for many marketers is the in-stadium experience that integrates with real-time content from the games.

This also opens up new marketing opportunities for brands that combine in-stadium and digital components.

?The NHL apps allow hockey fans to have a unique and catered experience for actual games,? said Donn Gobin, chief operating officer of Aurnhammer LLC, New York.

Mr. Gobin is not affiliated with NHL. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

?Real-time notifications increase the app users' sense of involvement,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren  Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York