It’s Time We Have Our Cake and Eat It Too!

ImageHave you ever found yourself at a sporting event wondering what it would be like to sit closer to the field in those vacant seats game-in and game-out?  Have you ever pondered how unfair it is that those fair-weather fans, that just happen to be loaded, use their seats within feet of the court during just a handful of home games?  Well, as we seem to hear all the time now, “There’s an app for that.”

There is a new mobile app called LetsMoveDown that will now benefit all parties involved.  Yes, you really can have your cake and eat it too.  First and foremost, there are a lot of season ticket holders that know they won’t be able to make it to every game.  Why not capitalize on other fans wishing they could sit in your amazing seats?  Using the LMD App, season ticket holders can now sell their tickets that won’t be used by scanning the barcodes for that particular game and avoid taking the loss.  Why stop there though?  Baseball, in particular, is a sport that will always have a hard time selling out every game.  It has nothing to do with fans not loving or being passionate about their team, but instead the reality of a full baseball season and the 81 home games that it encompasses (there will just about always be available inventory).  LMD has partnered with several franchises to capitalize on this void though and in return benefit both the franchise and the fan.  LetsMoveDown co-founder, Derek Shewmon, explains that, “Prices are set at the beginning of the game by the team, usually around face value or at a slight discount.  After the game starts, ticket prices decline based on an algorithm that factors in variables such as seat location, time remaining in the game, day of the week, home team record, away team, and supply and demand of the tickets to the game.”  It would be silly for organizations to not consider utilizing a product like this when one of their primary focuses is generating revenue and being able to capitalize on what would otherwise be sunk-costs once the game has started.  As for the fans, how can you go wrong?  They now have the ability to upgrade their experience during the event at whatever price-point they feel comfortable taking advantage of; all while receiving concession coupons, fan offers and game updates directly through the app – for FREE.

As great as this product can be, I believe there will still be some challenges presented regardless of how finely tuned the app is.  I’m sorry Los Angeles fans, but your peers are the perfect example.  Never in my life have I seen fans still show up during the 3rd quarter of a basketball game, halfway through the second period of a hockey game and during the 5th or 6th inning of a baseball game.  Yet it happens in Southern California; a lot.  That being said, just because it appears inventory might be available, doesn’t mean it actually is available.  Another issue that could come up is season ticket holders simply forgetting to scan their tickets so that they can be resold.  Finally, one of the greatest obstacles that fans may have to overcome is simply not having the mobile connectivity at an event to use this service.  We all know how bad cell towers and WiFi can be at stadiums and arenas.

While I’m sure there are many other potential pro’s and con’s, I feel pretty comfortable the pro’s should significantly outweigh the latter.

Can you stream me now?

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Major League Baseball Advanced Media is second to none when it comes to innovation and setting trends not only within the sports realm, but also digital media advancement as a whole.  In 2000, all 30 Major League Baseball clubs unanimously voted to create a separate entity that would house all digital media services for the entire league and MLBAM was born.  Being home to MLB technology, digital information, and online ticketing services, MLBAM has been able to create MLB.tv, web streaming services and a variety of mobile applications for smart phone and tablet devices.  All of which can be used by fans to get up to the minute scores, highlights and a variety of audio and video coverage of MLB games.

The next venture for MLBAM is now the recent partnership with Qualcomm, a leader in next-generation wireless technologies, to improve mobile access and performance at MLB Ballparks.  The idea is that ballparks will now extend the limits of digital expectations and the ability to maintain a mobile infrastructure that will meet fan expectations during their ballpark experience.  A major part of this agreement is the engineering team representing this partnership will assess and plan for increased access at select ballparks over the next two years.

Now for the spoiler alert – while increasing data demand by an impressive 1000x, MLBAM’s partnership with Qualcomm is already behind the times.  This feat has not only been undertaken by Santa Clara Stadium, but is already in the process of being implemented for the 49ers opening season in their new facility.  Not only will Santa Clara Stadium have a capacity of 68,500, but it will also provide simultaneous wireless connectivity to every single one of those individuals; without any limits on downloads or uploads.

This was primarily possible as a result of the efforts of Santa Clara Stadium’s CTO Kunal Malik and Senior IT Director Dan Williams; neither of whom have conventional sports technology backgrounds.  Instead, they spent five years at Facebook building what is currently one of the largest and most efficient website networks in the world.  The idea behind their undertaking is that Santa Clara Stadium will provide around a terabit of capacity while providing the experiences that users would more commonly receive with long-term evolution (LTE) services.  The issue with most stadium designs today is what Dan Williams calls sub-optimal locations for wireless access points and the addition of more of these access points doesn’t necessarily generate more signal strength.  In a manner to overcome the obstacles that traditionally hinder Wi-Fi access in stadiums and arenas, Santa Clara Stadium will evenly distribute these points around the stadium in a format that will efficiently provide the same wireless signal to all stadium guests.  While specific information as to how this network will be established is proprietary, it seems fair to say that Major League Baseball Advanced Media has some catching up to do.