As Super Bowl 50 approaches, we look at what 'soccer' teams can  learn from the use of connected stadiums in American Football.

What is a connected stadium?

When we talk about the connected stadium, we’re referencing both technical and digital enhancements that have been made to a facility to improve – you guessed it – connectivity.

In the UK, even at Premier League level, football stadiums are notorious for having limited mobile signal and internet connectivity; and whilst the number of clubs offering Wi-Fi is increasing, connection speeds aren’t great due to slow speeds and bandwidth restrictions.

How is stadium connectivity being capitalised on in the US?

The NFL has truly pioneered the concept of the ‘connected stadium’ in recent years, enhancing the experience on offer to those using mobile and tablet devices. On average, larger NFL stadiums now have 700+ wireless access points.

The opportunities this presents are unrivalled, particularly in terms of fan engagement, and many NFL franchises are now having success exploring its commercial potential. Here are five ways the NFL is using stadium connectivity:

  1. Social media - by giving fans the ability to use their social media accounts, franchises are able to encourage the sharing of photos and opinions to increase engagement and maximise awareness. In sharing game-day experiences, fans are actively supporting future ticket sales.
  2. Click-and-collect - through dedicated stadium applications, fans of the NFL can order food and drink during a game – cutting out the time of having to wait in lengthy queue. This form approach holds further potential for growing merchandise sales through official stores.
  3. Advertising - advertising partners are being afforded direct contact with match-goers; an opportunity that may not be so easy to achieve outside a stadium.
  4. iBeacons - franchises are able to communicate with fans as soon as they arrive at the stadium and throughout the game, sending targeted ads and personalised messaging.
  5. Push notifications - providing fans with team news, in-game replays and stadium information direct to an individual’s device is not only a useful service, but a great way to encourage further engagement.

So, what next for the connected stadium in the UK?

The official home of football (both English and American!) in the UK, Wembley, last year announced plans to become ‘the most connected stadium in world’. Teaming up with mobile giant EE, the facility is in the process of implementing enhanced internet coverage and improving Wi-Fi. 

Whether domestic clubs follow suit will no doubt depend upon the costs versus the potential commercial benefits it could bring. However, with the NFL looking to having fully connected stadiums in place by the end of 2015, football clubs will have the blueprint for their approach.