Big Game-Changers

From Member Melissa Misiak, SVP Group Account Director, Momentum Worldwide, NY

Scoring a ticket to the Super Bowl is akin to winning the lottery for most people—a bucket list event that many wish for, but most never have the opportunity to experience in real life. (Remember that? IRL events?) This year, a ticket to the Super Bowl is scarcer than ever, with only a fraction of the normal crowd size allowed to watch the game live in Tampa Bay due to Covid restrictions.

If you’ve been lucky enough to attend the Big Game in the past, you learned quickly that some components of the game are better when viewed from home. The halftime show, for example, is built for television, and while it’s always impressive to see live, the spectacle is generally far better when watched from home. Of course, if you are one of the lucky ones attending the Super Bowl in person, you also miss most football fans’ favorite part of the game—the commercials.

The win-win for all fans is new technologies. The pandemic has changed, forever, the way we view sports experiences both at home and in venues. Technologies like 5G will allow for smarter, safer and more immersive ways for fans to observe, interact and control their viewing experiences.

Throughout the pandemic, consumer mindsets have shifted as people have opened up to more fully integrated digital experiences in an effort to transport themselves out of their living rooms and stay connected to friends and family. This year’s Super Bowl presents the opportunity for brands to build on this shift in behavior and digital adoption, and to interact and engage with fans like never before through blended physical and digital experiences – just like Verizon is doing by creating a 5G stadium in Fortnite.

Technologies like Verizon’s 5G NFL Super Stadium app will allow fans to unlock multiple camera angles and instant replays, putting the fan more in control of how they watch the game itself. AR experiences will gamify the game, giving people the feeling of actually being there live. With new research showing that 73% of US consumers want more gamified elements in their experiences, this is just the start.  Yahoo Watch Together will let fans co-view, interact and comment on gameplay. Think of it as the pandemic-era Super Bowl viewing party—BYO beer and nachos!

In venues, 5G technology will change nearly every component of the live fan experience. Remember the days when you couldn’t get cell service at a sporting event to send a text to meet up with friends, place a call or to post that “not-so-humble” brag photo to social media? The good news is that the enormous bandwidth and low latency of 5G will make those annoyances a thing of the past.

5G technology will impact both safety and access, as fans will have the opportunity to enter venues with new applications that support ticketless entry.  Thermal scanning can make responsible safety applications possible that allow for monitoring of attendee’s temperatures.  Crowd Analytics and wayfinding applications will help venues manage customer flow, and get fans easily to their seats, concessions, or nearby restrooms.  With touchless merchandising, a fervent fan will be able to grab their favorite player’s jersey or foam finger while keeping their own hands free of contact with a checkout register.

We are in the midst of a revolution that will truly optimize the fan experience at home and in venue.  Our recent Momentum proprietary research shows that 86% of people globally are interested in “attending” virtually blended or hybrid experiences. So when the time comes for us to be together again to watch Super Bowl at the game, in a bar or at a party with friends, our world will have permanently changed, and fans will have more control over exactly what that experience looks like. Big Game-changers indeed!

Melissa oversees sponsorship and experiential marketing for Verizon across sports, music, gaming and targeted consumer segments.  Melissa has led the development of thousands immersive events each year for Verizon across the NFL, NBA, MLS, NHL and with musical artists like Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello and Justin Timberlake and in gaming with activations with Wild Rift and Fortnite.