How has sport used 360° VR to engage their target audience so far in 2017?
Fan engagement is a common challenge in sport. For many sports clubs or sporting events, VR has proven to be a successful tool for overcoming the challenges of fan engagement. The sport industry in general has been a pioneer in adopting new technology to achieve this.
Like any type of customer engagement, identifying the audience is key.
For some tournaments or clubs, there is a specific market within the fanbase that they want to target. The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 was a great example of how an organisation increased their corporate offering by using innovative tech throughout their hospitality suites.
This worked for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the VR content added value to the customer experience. Fans of the game were captivated and taken on a journey by their sporting hero of nostalgia.
The second reason – often, guests of hospitality suites are not regular attendees. They may attend because their employer is a sponsor of the game. They may not be emotionally invested in the game, but by giving them an emotional 360° experience, they can be encouraged to see through the eyes of a fan. Crucially, this makes them care – and it leaves a lasting impression of a memorable and enjoyable experience.
The welcomed challenge.
A great example of a more unique customer challenge is Wimbledon. Wimbledon is a world-famous, annual tournament that attracts thousands of fans from all over the world, not to mention millions of viewers on TV. The event itself is always oversubscribed. Therefore, unlike many other clubs and events, getting fans to buy tickets and attend the tournament is not something the organisers struggle with. In other words, it’s not a challenge at all.
The challenge, however, is how to keep fans engaged and excited about a tournament they can’t access and don’t have tickets for. This is where VR has proved to be a useful and successful tool.
VR allows the fans to get closer to the event, even without being there. Giving them 360° live access to the practices, they therefore feel like they are part of the event. Wimbledon live streamed the practice courts in 360°.
The fan zone.
For sports which take place over an extended period of time, such as cricket or golf, fans are able to enjoy a day out to watch the match. This is in contrast to rugby or football, where fans sometimes turn up for kick-off and leave at the final whistle. At The Open 2017, there was ample activity in and around the main sporting event for fans and attendees to interact with. HSBC had a dedicated fan area for mini-golf, putting zones and interactive golf simulators. This was in addition to a great a VR experience with previous champion Henrik Stenson. The VR experience proved popular, attracting thousands of viewers throughout the tournament – including Stenson himself, who surprised some young fans.
For some events, participation is key. Marathons and triathlons are a great example, with events across the globe offering people the opportunity to test their endurance, often while raising money for charity. Tough Mudder is the newest addition to this style of event, which encourages thousands of people to sign up and challenge themselves through a unique series of obstacle courses. “Tough Mudder is no ordinary mud run – it’s an experience.”
Samsung teamed up with Tough Mudder to capture the experience in 360. This gave potential ‘mudders’ an insight into what they can expect from the course.
Fan engagement, and capturing that enthusiasm, has never been an easy process – regardless of the sport. Passion is the driving force that sees millions of people watch sport, or participate, every day of the week. It is why we back a certain player, driver, golfer, or whatever sports person you can think of.
VR will help to channel that passion in whatever direction you want. It’s a challenge, but here at Laduma, challenge is another way of saying opportunity.