August 23, 2017

New Report: Carolina Panthers build new Wi-Fi and DAS; Mercedes-Benz Stadium update, and more!

Q3thumbMobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the Q3 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

In addition to our historical in-depth profiles of successful stadium technology deployments, our Q3 issue for 2016 has additional news and analysis, including a look at Wi-Fi analytics at the Mall of America, and a story about how the Cleveland Browns found $1 million in ROI using new analytics software from YinzCam. Download your FREE copy today!

Inside the report our editorial coverage also includes:

— Bank of America Stadium profile: An in-depth look at the Carolina Panthers’ decision to bring new Wi-Fi and DAS networks in-house;
— Mercedes-Benz Stadium profile: An early look at the technology being built into the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, with an emphasis on fiber;
— T-Mobile Arena photo essay: A first look at the newest venue on the famed Las Vegas Strip;
— Avaya Stadium profile: How the stadium’s Wi-Fi network became the star of the MLS All-Star game.

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, Crown Castle, SOLiD, CommScope, JMA Wireless, Corning, Samsung Business, Xirrus, Huber+Suhner, ExteNet Systems, DAS Group Professionals and Boingo Wireless. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to thank you for your interest and support.

Cleveland Browns: New YinzCam analytics platform produced $1 million+ in ROI

FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Credit: Cleveland Browns.

FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Credit: Cleveland Browns.

In sports it’s one thing to have a great playbook, and quite another thing to have a team that can execute the plays.

You can make a similar comparison to the state of sports business analytics — teams and venues are awash these days in ways to collect digital data on fans. But not many teams have figured out how to act on that information to effectively improve the fan experience, and improve the business bottom line, making many digital-fan engagement efforts seem unfinished.

That quest — to find a return on investment for a team’s digital operations — may get a big push forward this week with the announcement of the YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform, which is designed to bring together all kinds of digital fan data info in a place where teams can see it and act on it in a consolidated, structured fashion. According to early users the platform allows teams or venues to establish a highly personalized connection to the fan — while powering more efficient business processes at the same time.

At the SEAT Conference this week in Las Vegas, YinzCam will announce its new product and present a case study with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who have been testing the YinzCam software ahead of its general release. In an interview last week with Mobile Sports Report, the Browns said the YinzCam software did the one thing other existing products and services couldn’t do — help them analyze and act on the data they gathered from various digital fan interactions.

Screenshot of YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform view of fan profile. Credit: YinzCam/Cleveland Browns

Screenshot of YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform view of fan profile. Credit: YinzCam/Cleveland Browns

In one test, the Browns said the YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform allowed the team to save more than a million dollars in season-ticket renewals by being able to more effectively target fans who might be thinking about not renewing, and to connect with them via the fans’ preferred method of communication, trying to convince them to renew. According to YinzCam CEO Priya Narasimhan, the Business Intelligence Platform will be generally available on Monday.

New direction for YinzCam

The Business Intelligence Platform is a significant business shift for YinzCam, which to date has made its name by producing team and stadium apps that focus mainly on content, either for fans at the game or (increasingly) for fans at home who want to stay connected with their teams. With more than 150 mobile apps developed for teams in all the major U.S. professional sports leagues as well as in the NCAA and in international arenas, YinzCam is by far the leader in the market of stadium- and team-specific applications.

While YinzCam’s Narasimhan said the company’s apps have always used data to help bring a better app experience to fans, the new twist in the business platform is that YinzCam can combine its mobile-app fan interaction knowledge with other team data stores — like ticketing and concession purchase information from other potential team partners, like TicketMaster or Legends — to present a single, unified view of a digital fan profile. The platform will also allow teams to construct single campaigns across multiple communication channels — like email , phone outreach and social media — without the sometimes challenging task of sharing or merging contact lists.

Screenshot of YinzCam's Browns app

Screenshot of YinzCam’s Browns app

“By combining YinzCam’s mobile app capabilities with all of our sources of information, this platform offers our team the ability to organize, understand and evaluate data in a manner that addresses our main goal of continually improving our fans’ experience by customizing it for each individual,” said Cleveland Browns executive vice president and chief financial officer Dave Jenkins, in an email conversation. “In addition to understanding our fans better and providing an opportunity to accommodate their personal preferences, the system integrates information clearly across multiple areas so our team can communicate effectively with fans, allowing our staff to work more efficiently and successfully.”

Acting on data

As more teams install wireless networks in their stadiums and increase their digital interaction with fans — via such activities as digital ticketing, concession purchases, content consumption and various fan loyalty programs — the business desire is to use that digital engagement to better serve the fan while also increasing business efficiency and support new channels of revenue. However, as our recent Wi-Fi analytics feature found, even the leaders in digital programs are still at the starting points of using analytics to power such ideas.

According to members of the Cleveland Browns’ business analytics department, the team has been trying to build a data-based approach to fan engagement for the past several years, but didn’t find what they were looking for in the way of a product or service until hearing about YinzCam’s new platform. According to the Browns, the YinzCam business platform is a breakthrough, since it provides the means to not just harvest all kinds of data, but to also bring those numbers together to be acted upon in a simple, unified fashion.

Dave Giller, manager of business analytics for the Browns, said other firms with analytics products and services only seemed to offer products that “gave us the data and a container to put it in. YinzCam was the only one who could show us insights, and that really made all the difference.”

The Browns use many methods of communication to stay in touch with fans, including group selfies. Credit: Cleveland Browns

The Browns use many methods of communication to stay in touch with fans, including group selfies. Credit: Cleveland Browns

Joe Moeller, also a manager of business analytics for the Browns, echoed Giller’s view. “There are lots of ways to get data, put it in a warehouse, and then build a fan profile,” Moeller said. “With YinzCam, we have a solution for that third step — ‘here’s what I do with the data I have.’ That’s huge for us.”

Testing the math

To find out for themselves if the YinzCam platform could help the team in a measurable way, the Browns set up a thorough pilot program around the question of season ticket-holder renewals — a business question at the heart and soul of many teams’ operations. What the Browns wanted to find out was whether or not a system like YinzCam’s could help them improve an important process — being able to identify season ticket holders who might be leaning toward not renewing, and to connect with them to try to keep them in the fold.

According to Giller and Moeller, there were two significant factors in the pilot — first trying to identify which fans might be in danger of not renewing, and second, how to best reach those fans with targeted communications. As a baseline, the Browns established control groups that put some season ticket holders randomly into groups to be contacted either by email, or phone calls, or via social media; then other groups were built using the YinzCam platform to both find ticket holders who might not be interested in renewing, and to find the best ways to reach those ticket holders.

Giller and Moeller said the method of communicating to fans and ticket holders is a primary concern these days, since many people have a preferred method of digital communication, with no single method applicable across demographic spectrums.

“Some people respond better through a particular platform,” Giller said. “We worry about whether people will get freaked out if they get a DM from us on Twitter.”

Screenshot of the YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform dashboard. Credit: YinzCam/Cleveland Browns

Screenshot of the YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform dashboard. Credit: YinzCam/Cleveland Browns

At the risk of oversimplifying the process (interested parties at SEAT can learn more details at a panel describing the Browns’ experiments on Monday at 11:30 a.m. Vegas time), what the Browns found was that using the YinzCam business platform, they were able to increase their success rate of renewals by 16 percent over a non-YinzCam method — a process that gave the Browns more than $1 million in renewal revenues compared to the non-YinzCam method.

“We report up through the CFO, and it’s his responsibility to make sure this [analytics] is a viable business,” Giller said. A million-plus, everyone agreed, was among the best ways to show a digital-program ROI.

Where does it go next?

While ticketing operations are usually the best place to show business improvements, Narasimhan and the Browns are interested in additional steps the business platform can be used for, including managing tasks like content delivery, merchandise and concessions discounts, and additional ticket purchases and upsells.

“There are more questions to be answered, like which content do we produce, and which medium should it be delivered through,” Moeller said. He added that the YinzCam platform will also allow the Browns or other teams to show engagement data to potential sponsors for team apps and other engagement platforms, so they can compare how the team-specific connections stack up against other media and engagement programs.

YinzCam’s Narasimhan said that the business platform could be customized in many ways depending upon a team or venue’s desires for outcomes. From a market perspective, the YinzCam Business Intelligence Platform seems to be a significant shift in direction for the Pittsburgh-based company, one that might help fend off the growing competition from new players like VenueNext, a company whose team- and venue-app strategy is focused on fan services, like ticketing and concessions, over content, with its own analytics platform to help teams better assess the performance of digital operations.

Whether or not teams pick YinzCam or VenueNext or some other competitor to help turn data into profitable actions, the good news for teams and venues is that the biggest player in stadium and team apps is now bringing its playbook to back of the house operations; like in any sport, increased competition can only lead to a better final outcome for all.

NFL Stadium Tech Reviews — AFC North

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

AFC NORTH

Reporting by Paul Kapustka

M&T Bank Stadium. All photos: Baltimore Ravens (click on any photo for a larger image)

M&T Bank Stadium. All photos: Baltimore Ravens (click on any photo for a larger image)

Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium
Seating Capacity: 71,008
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Extreme Networks picked up another NFL win this offseason, being selected to provide the Wi-Fi network gear for the Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium.

According to press releases from the team and Extreme, Extreme will install approximately 800 Wi-Fi APs to provide wireless service to the seating and concourse areas of the stadium. The $6.5 million network will be designed and deployed by integrator PCM Inc. of El Segundo, Calif., and the team app will be developed by YinzCam. According to the Ravens M&T Bank Stadium has a seating capacity of 71,000 for football.

The Ravens are also unveiling a new 3-D video system called freeD that the team said shows replays from every possible angle, like the replays seen on newscasts that can circle around the field of view.

Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Seating Capacity: 65,515
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

After putting Wi-Fi from Extreme Networks into Paul Brown Stadium for last season, the Bengals announced an additional $20 million in improvements for 2015, including newer, larger video boards. A TE Connectivity DAS in already in place, and the Wi-Fi network went through some upgrades especially in the stadium’s canopy level.

Cleveland Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium
Seating Capacity: 73,200
Wi-Fi – No, planned for 2015
DAS – Yes

While the Cleveland Browns continue to add improvements to FirstEnergy Stadium, Wi-Fi is not yet installed; according to news reports it should be available by the end of the 2015 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field
Seating Capacity: 65,500
Wi-Fi – Yes/limited (club and suite areas only)
DAS – Yes

With room for 3,000 more fans in Heinz Field this season thanks to some offseason construction work, more Steelers fans than ever will be able to cheer on the Black and Gold.

Wi-Fi access, however, remains limited, not available in the full bowl but only in the FedEx Great Hall and the West Main Concourse. Clubs and suites also have free Wi-Fi, and the team said customer service reps will be available to deal with issues.

Wireless Whispers: Montreal Canadiens get Avaya Wi-Fi; Chargers, Clemson lead latest AT&T DAS totals

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.07.33 AMThe Montreal Canadiens will have Wi-Fi for fans in the 21,000-seat Bell Centre this season, thanks to a deployment from Avaya.

We haven’t yet had a chance to speak with the Canadiens’ IT folks, but according to a press release from Avaya the deployment has nearly 500 Wi-Fi access points, “ensuring that visitors get Wi-Fi no matter where they are in the facility.” Any visitors to games this year, please let us know if that connectivity is so!

Looking over the Avaya press materials, it appears that the Bell Centre (CentreBell?) has been a customer of Avaya technology for some time now, as the company said the stadium also uses Avaya’s Fabric Connect at the network core, as well as “an Avaya telephony platform on Avaya Aura Contact Centre.” (Is it only called “contact centre” in Canada?) We’ll keep an eye on the Bell Centre/CentreBell to see if the Avaya team is able to power any new fan engagement features thanks to the new wireless network.

As far as we know, this is the first public confirmation of an Avaya Wi-Fi network in an NHL arena. And while it’s not yet been publicly announced, we know from sources close to the company that Avaya is also behind a new Wi-Fi network at the Pepsi Center in Denver, home of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets; more on that deployment coming soon! Of course, Avaya built the Wi-Fi network at the new San Jose Earthquakes’ soccer pitch, Avaya Stadium.

Chargers, Clemson top AT&T DAS stats for Oct. 3-4 weekend

Exciting football games seem to go hand in hand with lots of DAS network usage — at least that seems to be the case after viewing another week of statistics from the folks at AT&T’s stadium DAS department. According to AT&T, fans at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium used the most DAS traffic at NFL games the weekend of Oct. 3-4, with 1.130 terabytes of DAS traffic consumed during the Bolts’ 30-27 win over the Cleveland Browns. Remember, these stats are ONLY for AT&T network traffic ONLY at the stadiums where AT&T has a DAS deployment. So there may be other stadiums that have higher DAS stats, but ONLY AT&T sends us DAS data, so… you see the scores we get. New Orleans’ Superdome was second that weekend with 965 GB, followed by Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where fans at the Niners-Packers game used 835 GB of DAS data (in addition to the 2.12 TB of Wi-Fi data).

On the college side, the orange britches of the Clemson Tigers were successful once again, as Clemson defeated then-No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22 in a nail-biter. Fans at the 81,500-seat Memorial Stadium used a whopping 1.475 TB of wireless data, according to AT&T. In second on the college stats that weekend was Texas A&M’s Kyle Field with another big number, 1.116 TB of data used.

Stadium Tech Report — NFL stadium technology reports — AFC North

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE FOOTBALL ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

AFC NORTH

Reporting by Chris Gallo

Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium
Seating Capacity: 71,008
Wi-Fi – No
DAS – Yes, 856 antennas
Beaconing – No

The Ravens are in the midst of a $35 million renovation to update their 15-year-old stadium. The focus of the enhancements is on aesthetics, with new video boards and more LED displays being installed. No Wi-Fi at the stadium yet, but fans should have no problem getting a cell signal via the now 2-year old Corning MobileAccess DAS system.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.42.52 AMCincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Seating Capacity: 65,515
Wi-Fi-Yes
DAS-Yes
Beaconing – No

The upgrades on the field over the last two seasons have been significant for the Cincinnati Bengals. And soon you’ll be able to say the same about Paul Brown Stadium. Wi-Fi from Extreme Networks is in place for all home games this NFL season.


Cleveland Browns

FirstEnergy Stadium
Seating Capacity: 73,200
Wi-Fi – No, planned for 2015
DAS-Yes
Beaconing – No

Less than a year ago, the Cleveland Browns were awarded $62.5 million from the NFL to improve FirstEnergy Stadium. Upgrades for the 15-year-old stadium include Wi-Fi, video boards, and a new sound system. With two first-round draft picks, a Heisman trophy winner potentially under center, and another new coach – the stadium is not the only thing experiencing a makeover. But Browns fans will have to wait a year to have Wi-Fi and Johnny Football at the same time.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field
Seating Capacity: 65,500
Wi-Fi – Yes, 193 access points
DAS – Yes, 339 antennas
Beaconing – No

With plans to increase its capacity over the coming years, it’s important for Heinz Field to continue to be one of the best home field advantages in all of football. The easiest way to do that is to keep fans happy. And as a Steelers fan, what sounds better than waving your Terrible Towel whilst taking a selfie? Steelers faithful can do just that thanks to 193 Wi-Fi access points and 339 DAS antennas outfitted from AT&T and Verizon. Now can Pittsburgh return to the playoffs after a 2-year break?

Friday Grab Bag: Samsung, Lenovo Tablets-Seattle bickers about stadium

We mentioned last week that there is now an ongoing attempt to build a new basketball arena in Seattle and then land a new team. From this article in the Seattle PI it looks like the Seattle City Council could be a roadblock.

While the county commissioners are expected to give approval to an $80 million contribution to the building, the city looks like it might want a better deal for the $120 million that it is being asked to throw in as well. The city wants better protection from financial fallout among other issues.

Microsoft wants broad patent licensing deal with Motorola
After winning cases at home and abroad regarding its patent portfolio Microsoft has said that it wants to sign a deal with Motorola that will end the legal disputes between the two companies. Microsoft already licenses its ActiveSync technology to others including Samsung and HTC, according to IT World.

However in the case of Motorola, Microsoft is looking for a more all-encompassing deal, one that will include not just a select few patents but rather a great deal of their respective portfolios in order to achieve what Microsoft calls “A solid foundation for patent peace.”

Larger tablets can be heavy

Samsung thinking big with next-gen tablet?
Kudos to the Verge for digging into all of the documents from the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung trial in San Jose, Calif. Among the nuggets it has mined is the revelation that Samsung has a 11.8-inch tablet on the drawing board.

Code named P10 it would have the equivalent of Apple’s retina display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and among its other features is LTE connectivity.

Google investing in YouTube effort
It looks like Google is going to invest $200 million in marketing its YouTube channels as it continues its transition of that platform from one in which the majority of content is user generated into one where there are a wide range of professionally created content.

It has over 100 channels now and currently is teamed with NBC to show the Summer Olympics. According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Google currently has already earned $150 million in ad commitments for this year.

Google to delay its Nexus Q digital streaming device
Google announced its Nexus Q music and video streaming platform to great fanfare a few weeks back at the company’s annual Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Expected to be quickly delivered to the market it looks like it has hit a bump in the road and its delivery is now delayed.

The people that preordered have been told that there is an indefinite delay but has offered them a free product. Multiple sources report that the device was beset by poor reviews and that the company will be seeking to enhance the device.

A Bikini Hockey League?
Sounds like the follow up ads after the Swedish Bikini Team that Old Milwaukee Beer ran years ago but no, someone is actually trying to launch a Bikini Hockey League. Actually it is a reality TV show that is based on a developer’s purported plan to create such a league.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet leaked
It appears that the ever vigilant Verge has scored again, this time with details on the upcoming Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 that will be using Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The devices will feature an attachable keyboard and pen input as well as the usually features that users have come to expect.

Among the listed features for the tablet are that it will be powered by an Intel Clover Trail microprocessor, have 2GB of RAM and a 64GBs of storage with a 10.1 inch WXGA display. It will have a fingerprint reader and they keyboard will have trackpoint navigation.

MLB’s Powers that be endorse Expanded use of Instant Replay

Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball said last Friday that the sport plans to implement the extended use of instant replay. It will now also be used for trapped balls in the outfield, and to determine if balls down the first and third base line are fair or foul.

The league is now assessing the camera angle issues in each park to see what, if any difficulties it will have in placing cameras that have the needed angles. It is not likely that the extended replay will make an appearance prior to the start of next season

Cleveland Browns sell for $1 billion
At least that is what ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeting yesterday. It seems that James Haslam will be buying the Browns from Randy Lerner for that figure, with a $700 million initial payment and then a second one sometime down the road for $300 million more.

The team just underwent a major shakeup in top management a few years ago, notably luring Mike Holmgren into the front office by giving him the position of team president. Usually new management likes its own people in place so he could be back looking over some other execs shoulder in the near future.

Cleveland Browns

I do like the comment on the tweet that questioned why anyone would pay that much for such a poor franchise noting that a Hawaiian island just sold for $600 million, implying that might have been the better deal.