Stand Up and Cheer, but Hit ‘Pause’ First

Barclays Center in Brooklyn using new StadiumVision Mobile app.

(from The New York Times, March 3, 2013) For decades broadcasters have been developing techniques to make fans at home feel as if they are a part of the game. Today, Chip Foley, Director of building technologies at the Forest City Ratner Companies, says venues are helping spectators feel at home while watching the game.

Last month the Barclays Center in Brooklyn introduced an app which streams high definition video to stadium visitor’s smart devices to follow the events they are watching in person. Streaming video allows spectators to activate instant replays on their mobile devices, similar to the pause and rewind technique offered to viewers at home. Arena executives are also attempting to reproduce the multi-screen experience fans have already adopted in their living rooms. Many sports enthusiast watch events on multiple screens, capturing different game angles. Appealing to multi-tasking viewers, Barclays Center has installed StadiumVision Mobile, a technology from Cisco Systems. StadiumVision Mobile is a high-density Wi-Fi network and multi-task video technology aimed at enhancing video streaming, tweeting, and photo sharing for fans at games.

The StadiumVision Mobile system allows fans in the upper concourse to watch the game from a similar perspective as fans in more expensive court side seating. The advanced system also allows teams and brands to adapt mobile marketing to specific spectators. Michael Caponigro, Cisco’s leader of global solutions marketing for sports and entertainment, says the idea is to allow fans to be continuously connected to the game through video feed.

StadiumVision, another Cisco product, allows hundreds of monitors throughout the arena to display custom digital signs and videos. These monitors can be used to by teams, sponsors, and advertisers to fill the stadium with digital marketing. Cisco has outfitted more than 100 arenas in 20 countries with its networks. The cost of installing such a system varies, but it can cost several million dollars per stadium.

Some fear that individualized instant replays and other feeds challenge the purpose behind spectator sports as “a shared moment of leisure”, as A. Bartlett Giamatti, former baseball commissioner and Yale president once said.