The Agony and The Ecstasy
To be amongst a crowd of 50,000 – with every person transfixed on the game, or singing in unison with the band onstage – is an undeniably a powerful experience. Humans have congregated together in their hundreds and thousands to watch various spectacles for thousands of years; we have always understood the intrinsic power of the stadium for catharsis, escapism, and connection. The challenges and triumphs of daily life, and the heightened emotions that accompany them, are played out with limited consequences on the pitch or stage. Stadiums often form a cultural epicentre for communities, a centre of excitement and treasured memories.
In the modern era, we are increasingly using technology to enhance this atmosphere and augment the experience of fans. Throughout the last decade, many stadiums have been swapping out their tired, static screens for new digital signage systems. But it is only by adhering to a set of principles that digital signs can become an extension of the powerful stadium experience, rather than a distraction.
I’m intrigued to notice that I’m on the edge of my seat, my toes curled in my shoes involuntarily. I’ve become invested in the outcome. This is fun,” Journalist Oliver Burkeman on watching his first football match.
Extending the Atmosphere
Underlying all practical and logistical factors when installing and running digital signage systems is one fundamental principle: the signs must reflect the way that fans already interact with the stadium and with each other, reflecting emotions that range from euphoria and excitement to despair and suspense.
There are four key characteristics of a stadium digital signage system that follow this approach: it is tailor-made and customized for that particular stadium; it is implemented in a highly targeted manner across all zones of the stadium; it is dynamic and responds in real-time; and, it can be controlled centrally. The advent of increasingly sophisticated software makes achieving these factors obtainable.
Every stadium has a unique audience, schedule of events, size and architecture, and commercial objectives. To design a signage system without taking this into account would be foolhardy, as each of these factors influences the placement, number and software configuration of the digital signs. This includes designing how the signs will be monetized, for example through display ads, partnerships and branded content. Each stadium will have unique challenges and opportunities which need to be taken into account to properly integrate into the spectator’s existing experience.
- Highly Targeted
Sophisticated software now means that solutions can be tailored to each different area of the stadium, as well as the time of day and what type of performance or game is taking place. The software is able to take into account the context – from the parking lot to the main arena – and then display the correct proportions of communications that inform, entertain and enhance the performance, as well as branded content and adverts.
A dynamic system reacts in real time and is highly responsive – it reflects changes in atmosphere and responds to events, as fans experience them. This also opens up the possibility of completely “rebranding” a stadium when it hosts two home teams, or for a corporate event, through changing the signage. For example, the Allianz Arena in Munich not only changes its exterior colour, but also all digital signage, when shifting between FC Bayern Munich and the national German team’s games.
The scale of stadiums can be challenging in keeping all communications consistent. This was particularly true when changing static signing, leading to inconsistency and time lags, but remains an issue when creating digital signage system. By ensuring centralization of the software across a stadium, or indeed a portfolio of venues, this issue is avoided.
Implementing these four principles through a digital signage solution can extend what is already a powerful and profoundly human experience in stadiums – the magic of being swept up in the crowd’s emotions.