- IBM is installing an advanced WiFi network in Atlanta’s new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium that’s scheduled to open on Aug. 26. Smartphone users who download the IBM Fan Experience app will get access to a real-time companion for Atlanta Falcons football games, Atlanta United soccer matches and other events.
- The app provides access to a personal experience by offering real-time information on travel, parking, in-stadium options, team information and more. During games and matches, fans can follow the action live from anywhere with play-by-play updates, near real-time highlights and notifications on scores, injuries and other information.
- IBM installed Internet of Things (IoT) technology throughout the stadium that connects lighting throughout the building and an Internet Protocol television (IPTV) system that enables TV broadcast and messaging to fans. Fans can also purchase a parking space among the 12,000 spots available through the app.
The state-of-the-art technology that’s going into Atlanta’s new stadium is another sign that professional sports teams and entertainment promoters recognize the central role that smartphones have in people’s experience of a live event. IBM is putting a significant amount of communications and computing equipment into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including 4,000 miles of fiber optics, 90 miles of audio cable, about 2,000 wireless access points and broadband WiFi to carry heavy data traffic. Atlanta will host the Super Bowl in 2019, giving the world a chance to see one of the most technically advanced stadiums in the world.
While many stadiums offer WiFi, professional sports organizations need to offer next-generation in-stadium connectivity to appeal to millennials and Gen Zers who have many other entertainment options. The median age of an NFL TV viewer rose to 50 last year from 44 in 2000 as younger generations have shifted to digital platforms, according to Nielsen data cited by Sports Business Daily.
Perhaps the new stadium will help ease the pain of Atlanta Falcons fans who this year watched their team suffer the worst loss in Super Bowl history. The Falcons squandered a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in a game that went into overtime. New England won 34-28.
But the Falcons command strong ticket sales, with TickPick data showing that the team has the No. 9 most expensive preseason tickets in the NFL with an average cost of $110.24. The Patriots have the highest average at $207.48.
The Atlanta Falcons are among the teams that are finding new ways to integrate mobile media with their games. The Denver Broncos this month added a mobile sweepstakes called Bronco Bingo to its mobile app. Earlier this year, the New York Jets rolled out the NFL's first season-long mobile ticketing subscription service.