- The National Football League's Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans added an augmented reality (AR) face painting feature to their respective team apps. The apps let fans overlay virtual face paint and helmets on a live image of themselves on a mobile device, take selfies and share the photos on social media, according to a press release made available to Mobile Marketer.
- Bud Light, the official beer sponsor of the NFL, and the teams worked with mobile app and software developer YinzCam and digital agency Float Hybrid to create the AR features for the 2017 season. The Broncos were the first team in the NFL to introduce AR face painting at the end of last season, per the release.
- The feature uses facial detection to apply digital face paint masks in real time. In designing the various face paints, Float Hybrid studied images of fans at past games to identify designs that would likely be most popular for each team. The free features are now available in the Broncos 365, Eagles and Texans team apps from the App Store and Google Play.
The NFL continues to shed viewers as droves of consumers are cutting the cord on cable TV for digital alternatives like Amazon and Netflix. Compounding this issue so far this fall is teams trying to walk a fine line between respecting the political views of players and providing sports entertainment for fans.
Ratings are down nearly 10% this year compared with the first four weeks of last season, according to Nielsen data cited by Yahoo Finance. But in an attempt to deepen engagement with football fans both at games and at home, NFL teams and the organization as a whole are enlisting mobile tech in fresh ways this season via AR, Snapchat, original programming on social media and real-time in-stadium engagement.
With AR face paint, the NFL is taking another stride toward making the sport fun and innovative, while engaging fans with their favorite teams and players in a socially shareable fashoin. The visual-based app might also attract younger viewers who are shunning TV while spending more time with mobile apps and social platforms. These younger users on Snapchat and Instagram, in particular, are familiar with app features to add filters, masks, text, emojis and stickers to photos and videos they share online, making YinzCam's new features generally accepted by young consumers of mobile media, a key audience the NFL aims to capture.