Think back to the last time you attended a baseball game. Whether you were at Citi Field watching the Mets, or in Durham taking in a Bulls game you were likely treated to much more than a ballgame as you were hunkered down over your Sweet Potato Tots or Rendezvous BBQ Nachos. Technology commonly seen at today’s venues enable teams to engage seated fans throughout the game, with elements such as LED video boards, ribbon boards, sound systems and in-game camera crews working in concert maximize the fan experience and brand visibility.
But how have ballparks evolved for fans once they get up from their seat? Afterall, consumer behavior at ballgames has changed. Fans attend games today in large part to hang with their family and friends, and less for the on-field product. Anecdotal reports have the average baseball fan out of their seat for at least a few innings per game, and who can blame them? Stadium concourses resemble small carnivals, much different from the dark stadium runways of old. Menus are amazing, kids can often find bounce houses and mini-golf, and there are plenty of spots to grab an adult beverage and socialize. But as for the tech in stadium concourses, it is often limited to digital menu boards or TVs playing the in-game feed, and that is where ISM comes in.
Beginning in the Summer of 2018, ISM partnered with Minor League Baseball (MiLB) to establish the largest connected digital network in sports. By Opening Night 2019, the Allegiant Airline Network was online in 25 MiLB parks, enabling a level of fan engagement we have come to expect while seated at MiLB parks, but perhaps something unexpected when we are taking in the sites around the park.
The average ISM ballpark deployment in MiLB is 11 LCD screens, placed strategically in high-traffic and extended dwell time spaces such as social decks, concession areas and main concourses. These smart digital-out-of-home networks (DOOH) engage fans through compelling content, created in collaboration with each team, ensuring a fresh mix of baseball and team-related content (ever see players hitting laser beam pitches with light sabers, or a 6-foot tall Blue Bull riding a 4-wheeler across the outfield?), along with content from local and national brand partners. Programming is remotely managed by ISM using Publish, our proprietary CMS which enables a unique run-of-show for each screen within each stadium every night throughout our partners’ 70-game home schedule.
MiLB stadiums consistently rank at the most fan-friendly game to attend; the league’s 160 teams saw 14 million unique and 41 million total visitors in 2019 and boasts the highest percentage of female fans in professional sports. While business is good, the league and its teams are always looking for ways to evolve their approach to fan engagement. ISM is also playing a key role here, providing each team and brand partner with data captured at each game with Audience, ISM’s facial recognition software measuring fan engagement to each piece of content.
As the ISM-MiLB partnership continues to grow, additional ballparks will come online (34 the next time a pitch is thrown), and our expertise on engaging sports fans through effective digital content will expand through Audience. How can ISM help your organization reach millions of baseball fans? Let us know.