CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

Sports Franchises Tap Immersive Tech to Keep Fans Engaged and Subscription-Ready 

When it comes to professional sports, it’s not just about the plays and the scores. It’s also about how fans experience and interact with their favorite teams off the field. 

Against this backdrop, sports franchises are harnessing digital tools and technologies, ranging from immersive virtual experiences to interactive mobile apps, to connect with their fan base and foster a sense of community and excitement that transcends the traditional stadium experience.

The launch of Isles+ is just but one recent example of this trend. 

The digital platform, developed in partnership with Verizon and built on HomeTurf’s fan engagement platform, promises to usher in an era of fan interaction for the New York Islanders and their supporters.

With features including multiple camera angles, instant replays, live chat with fellow spectators, real-time statistics and trivia games, the app offers fans an immersive and personalized experience.

“Isles+ stands as the ultimate game day companion, offering fans control over their experience,” Ryan Halkett, SVP of NY Islanders Media & Entertainment Group, said in a Feb. 9 press release. “Our collaboration with Verizon lets fans enjoy an immersive and interactive experience throughout every home game.”

Similarly, the Calgary Flames and Calgary Wranglers rolled out a new mobile app back in September, “designed to bring unparalleled convenience and engagement” to fans of both professional ice hockey clubs. The mobile app serves as “the go-to hub for all team-related updates, including scores, stats, exclusive content, and game day information,” the teams noted in a joint news release at the time.

Ziad Mehio, VP, technology of Calgary Sports and Entertainment, added that “the app serves as a one-stop-shop for all team-related information and offers an immersive experience that truly puts our fans at the heart of the action.”

Apple’s recent unveiling of a free iPhone app for sports enthusiasts underscores the tech giant’s strategic move to leverage the booming sports trend, potentially paving the way for subscription-based commercialization opportunities.

Available in the App Store in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, the new Apple Sports offers users real-time scores and stats as well as personalized information on their favorite teams, tournaments and leagues. 

Users can also toggle between live scores and upcoming matches, access play-by-play updates, and seamlessly transition to the Apple TV app to watch live games.

“We created Apple Sports to give sports fans what they want — an app that delivers incredibly fast access to scores and stats,” Eddy Cue, senior vice president of services at Apple, said in a release last month.

Coupang Play, the subscription-based video streaming service of Korea-based eCommerce giant Coupang, is already cashing in on the trend. 

During a recent fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts, company executives highlighted that Play was the most downloaded app in Korea across all categories on both iOS and Android platforms in 2022 and 2023, providing users with exclusive access to some of the most-watched live sporting events in the country.

“For the first time ever, millions were able to see Neymar, Haaland and Son [Heung-Min] play in Korea with international franchises like Manchester City, PSG and Tottenham Hotspur,” Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim remarked, adding that Play members will have exclusive access to tickets and live broadcasts for the two Dodgers vs. Padres games taking place in Korea this spring.