Top Menu

Bringing fans into the game: three approaches

The big trend in sporting events in 2010: increasing fan participation with in-game promotions featuring texting, video and more. Here are three approaches from teams and vendors.

Attention spans are getting shorter every day, and keeping fans at the ballpark is getting to be a harder proposition every season. Plus, a savvy operator will want to keep exposing fans to messages from partners and sponsors in a way that's entertaining yet subtle. How can all these competing interests be weighed a way to keep all sides happy?

If fans are going to text and message at ballgames — and let's face it, they will no matter what you do — then you should work to make sure your team is involved in the process in some way. That's the thinking behind three approaches to fan participation in game-day entertainment.

The Goldklang Group and its four teams — the Hudson Valley Renegades, the St. Paul Saints, the Charleston RiverDogs and the Fort Myers Miracle — are directly asking for fan videos in a "Be Your Own Fan" season-long promotion. Fans are being asked to produce a 60-second video demonstrating the passion and dedication of what it means to them to "Be Your Own Fan." The only guideline is that videos be 60 seconds long, with video links sent via Twitter to @beyourownfan. Select videos will be shown on ballpark videoboards during the 2010 season.

This approach is a good start; surely fans will keep an eye on the scoreboard to see if their video made the cut. And given the ubiquity of low-priced video devices these days (heck, there are high-definition Flip devices for under $200), you'd think fans would be jumping to submit a fun video. So we'll be watching this promotion closely.

When the Minnesota Twins were making a run to the 2009 playoffs, the noise and intensity at the Metrodome were enhanced by a new feature: texts and photos from fans at the game were displayed on the Dome's videoboard and racing-stripe scoreboard.

The in-game messaging came as a result of a partnership between the Twins and FanChatter, one of several new services devoted to bringing fan participation to the in-game experience. Basically, FanChatter is the mechanism for bringing user-generated content to the crowd, giving teams the chance to display photos and tweets/messages on various scoreboard media.

The goal is obvious: to keep fans' eyes on scoreboards, which helps to reinforce marketing messages and increase fan interest in the game. Of course, when your team is in the midst of a pennant race, you don't need a lot of help to keep fans interested in the game. But during the early and middle parts of the season, when there's not a lot of frenzied interest in the proceedings, something like FanChatter can be useful.

FanChatter asks for input from fans; taking it to another level is a new product from scoreboard vendor Daktronics, who introduced a new integrated mobile marketing solution today. The Daktronics internet-based service provides mobile interactivity for sports fans that includes text-to-screen, picture-to-screen, text-to-vote, text-to-win, trivia and quizzes, security communications, and crowd sourcing capabilities.

“Daktronics is offering a fully functional platform for mobile marketing, comparable feature for feature with any other provider out there,” said Jon Grann, Daktronics Product Manager. “The Daktronics advantage is direct knowledge of how to best integrate that capability with Daktronics display systems. With the recent launch of the new Show Control system, we’ll be able to offer an even higher level of integration and simplified use. Daktronics can also scale the system to make mobile texting features accessible to any sized venue or organization. Virtually no time is needed to create and deliver interactive content to your audience.”

Text-to-screen functionality allows fans to text their personal message to the scoreboard control room for immediate display on a large screen video board. Picture-to-screen capability allows mobile phone users to send a photo from their device that can quickly and easily be displayed on large video screens and other displays within a digital media network within the venue. Text-to-vote services allow mobile users to participate in a vote, poll or survey by selecting a choice from multiple options. The results can be displayed on in-venue screens nearly instantly. Viewers can see the results as numerical data or various graphic formats as they change. This service also provides opportunities for fans to interact through entertaining quizzes and trivia questions. These can also be sponsored components of the game-day presentation. Text-to-win allows for in-venue contests for giveaways like seat upgrades, team merchandise and tickets for upcoming games and events.

Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at

Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see features before they're posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.

Join Ballpark Digest on Facebook and on Twitter!