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Cisco Sports and Entertainment Digital Fandom. Are You Ready?

Over the past decade, technology has taken monumental strides forward – and every person, every company, every corporation has felt the impact of this digital disruption. The sports and entertainment world is no exception. While some may see this as a threat, we view it as an opportunity for you to pull ahead of the pack.

At Cisco, we’ve prepared ourselves to help you address the opportunity head-on. To better understand exactly what your fans expect in terms of a digital, in-stadium experience, Cisco recently conducted an in-depth fan research study of more than 1,700 sports fans from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K. The study aimed to gauge the value of and fan response levels to new and emerging digital concepts in the sports arena.

The results of the study were conclusive. We can confidently say that we know what sports fans want – a more connected, convenient, and customized in-stadium experience with rich event –day content and services. In today’s world, virtually every person who steps foot in a sports venue brings a mobile device with them and expects to be able to use it to complement and enhance their experience. But reality thus far has not lived up to expectations – nearly half of all fans surveyed reported being dissatisfied their basic Wi-Fi experience.

This gap between expectation and reality provides an immense opportunity for sports venues and properties. Fans have not been shy about what they want and what they value. Reliable connectivity is no longer enough. Fans today want their smartphones to do 2-3 times more inside the stadium than they did three years ago. They demand to use their smart phones for additional services and conveniences – in parking, in concessions, in merchandise, in ticketing. And it doesn’t stop there. There is an insatiable desire for more and more relevant content, and more and more interactivity and digital engagement. The possibilities are endless…but so are the opportunities.

New digital experiences enable you and your partners to engage more meaningfully with your fans. Relevant services, branding and promotions can be segmented, targeted and personalized in ways never possible before. New insights into fan behaviors enable you to deepen your relationships and grow your business.

So the question remains – which side of the digital divide do you want to be on? Earlier this year, former Cisco CEO John Chambers famously predicted that forty percent of businesses will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years. With more than 350 customers in over 40 different countries, Cisco’s Sports & Entertainment Solutions Group is positioned to help bring your organization through this period of disruption and to the forefront of innovation – ushering in a new age of digital sports fans.

Your fans are ready. We’re ready. Are you?

Want to learn more? Follow us on Twitter @CiscoSESG

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Big Results at the Biggest Events

It is only a matter of time before all the major sports venues throughout the world will be connected. Consider this – five years ago, Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi, the only high-density solution of its kind, was in the development stage. The pace of innovation has been exponential, and this past month, AT&T Stadium, host of the NCAA National Championship Game, saw nearly five terabytes of data come across the network. To put that in perspective, the entire printed works of the US Library of Congress is 10 terabytes, so half of that amount crossed the network in just a few hours!

Or, look at this past weekend in Arizona as American football’s Big Game took place. It was the sixth consecutive year that a Cisco Connected venue was chosen to host arguably the biggest one day sporting event in the world. And, what did you see? Scores of fans using the network, sharing photos and video, and engaging through technology. Collaborating with CDW and the Arizona Cardinals has been seamless, and our collective expertise makes the experience fans have at University of Phoenix Stadium flawless.

“There is nothing we get more excited about than seeing fans having a fabulous time using their mobile devices to consume, interact and share content at University of Phoenix Stadium,” said Mark Feller, VP, Technology, Arizona Cardinals. “We worked with Cisco and CDW because they have the track record for being the best in the industry at connecting the unconnected. As host of the Big Game at our Stadium, we needed a network and Wi-Fi platform that would be flawless – and Cisco and CDW delivered.”

Not enough? Look at one of the leagues that is hyper-focused on connectivity and innovation – the NBA. This year’s All-Star Weekend will be held in two venues, Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, both of which are utilizing Cisco Connected Sports solutions, including Connected Stadium Wi-Fi.

Think about where we will be in 2019? The vast majority of venues will be connected, however, during that time people, things, data, processes and more will also become connected as part of the Internet of Everything (IoE), and the opportunities for fans, players and organizations to capitalize on that connectivity will be transformative. The entire fan experience will always be based on the excitement of the live event. Nothing replaces that, but the opportunities to customize that experience, through analysis of data coming from everything being connected to the network, is incredibly powerful, and it excites us about the future.

This is not just a US phenomenon. It is happening globally as already more than 275 venues in 35 plus countries are operating Cisco solutions. We enjoy a global market leadership position because we focus on delivering solutions that work, and giving fans the connected experience they are looking for in this Internet of Everything hyper-connected world of today!

We are incredibly bullish on how the Internet of Everything is going to benefit the sports and entertainment industry; from the emotional and connections that fans will make with their favorite teams and players to how venues and leagues will create new revenue while also creating efficiencies.  Nothing will trump being in a stadium with 20,000 or 80,000 screaming fans as the game comes down to the last play or shot. But there isn’t any reason that experience can’t be enhanced when it is connected  and part of the Internet of Everything.

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Any Given Sunday and the Internet of Everything

On any given Sunday, or Saturday, in stadiums across the country powered by Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi, an average of 2 terabytes of data are coming across the network and tens of thousands of unique connections are being made. This means anywhere from 20-50% of ticketed fans are using their mobile devices to engage. Extrapolate that out to stadiums around the world holding soccer/football, rugby, basketball and other sporting events, and on any given weekend hundreds of thousands of previously unconnected fans are connecting to elevate the live experience.

The stadium or arena, and the services the venue and surrounding areas consume, mirror that of a city – safety, security, transportation, entertainment, food, commerce, and more. This microcosm is a wonderful showcase for the Internet of Everything (IoE) and the new business opportunities made possible. As people (fans, athletes, entertainers), process (operations, fan engagement, transportation management), data (performance, fan-generated, operational), and things (balls, bats, pucks, merchandise, parking spots) become connected, the world of sport will be radically enhanced.

A great example of this is AEG and what they have done with STAPLES Center and LA Live. They are delivering everything a fan wants at L.A. Live with hotel, food, dining and entertainment options in and around the venue. At STAPLES Center they have multiple teams, concerts and other events, making it home to more than 250 events and four million plus visitors annually. Add to that mix new experiences and business opportunities, and what results is a pulsating environment that runs and thrives on being connected. Step beyond the United States and AEG is doing the same thing with The O2 in London, and numerous other venues around the world such as Allphones Arena in Sydney, which recently announced the installation of Cisco StadiumVision.

More and more, I see an industry embracing the need to plan for an IoE based future. Last week Cisco announced its renewal as the Official Technology Partner of the NBA, and one of the key new additions to that agreement was a research and development initiative that will feature a committee of executives from both companies with a focus on employing principles of the Internet of Everything to enhance courtside connectivity within NBA venues. Click here for a front row seat at how Cisco and the NBA are already making IoE come to life. 

In addition, TD Garden in Boston is another great example of a facility leveraging Cisco solutions such as StadiumVision and Connected Stadium Wi-Fi as part of their overall facility renovation.

I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead for the Sports and Entertainment industry as part of IoE. We are going to be a leader in the changes taking place for the more than 250 venues in 30 plus countries around the world already working with Cisco, and those that will be as we collaborate to capture the opportunities that IoE will make possible.

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Sports + Social Media = Massive Opportunities

I was at the SEAT Conference in Miami last week, and people are still abuzz about the recent World Cup. Attendees of the conference see engagement with sports fans as a top priority, and they know that Cisco has the most open, tailored and successful solutions to make that possible in venues around the world. The data below from Facebook and Twitter shows just how voraciously fans engaged on social media with regards to the World Cup.

Facebook

 

Twitter

As the world continues to become more “social” than ever before, teams, venues, leagues, and companies are working more feverishly than ever to capture the massive opportunity these sports fans present in the digital world.

Every conversation I had during the SEAT Conference validated that Cisco’s investments in Sports & Entertainment have positioned us to aid our customers to capture these digital fans. Over the past few years we have solved the problem of reliable and efficient high-density Wi-Fi, and live video streaming with minimal delay, and that is why our solutions are in more than 225 venues, and 30 plus countries, and have impacted hundreds of millions of fans. And with a proven platform in place, we are working with our customers to convert these more connected and immersive experiences into deeper levels of insight and engagement that drive impact, both on a personal level with fans and on the business side with sponsors and other associated partners looking to generate a return on their investments.

While many are looking at capturing the opportunities of the here and now, this is only the beginning.  The rapid pace of technology innovation mandates preparing for the future and as we visualize a world where everything is connected (Internet of Everything – IoE). This video series shows how Cisco and the NBA are already deep into this process. Check out the “One Bounce” video here.

As big data fuels deeper levels of fan insights, the future experience will be richer, and ultimately feed the insatiable hunger for information that these fans have already shown. Being a sports fan will be better than ever before, and Cisco will be right in the middle of making that happen.

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Seven Years – Hundreds of Millions of Fans Engaged

Cisco Sports & Entertainment is proud to be celebrating our seven-year anniversary this year as a specialized industry vertical business unit – and it’s simply incredible to look back and see how far we, and more importantly the industry, have come in such a short period of time.  The key to success has been working with our customers in defining their needs and tailoring, or engineering, a few solutions while always keeping in mind the “fan trends” and business models.  This infographic sums it up nicely – more than 200 venues, in more than 30 countries around the world flawlessly engaging hundreds of millions of fans, who were previously unconnected to the live action.

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