Will stadiums and sport venues be fully digitized for the 2024 Olympics?

Over the next few years, France will host two world-class sports events: the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June 2019, and the Rugby World Cup in 2023. And to top it off, the City of Paris will host the Summer Olympic Games in 2024. One question remains open: on these occasions, will the real sports enthusiasts and the fair-weather fans make the trip to the stadium? With the development of online streaming, a multitude of channels and replay television, sports venues are being deserted by the spectators of yesteryear, who now prefer the comfort of watching from home and the charm of personalized viewing. While the deployment of Wi-Fi has curbed the systemic drop in stadium attendance, too many have yet to commit to their digital transformation. By 2024, French stadiums are eager to offer spectators with an end-to-end, powerful experience.

 

The 2024 game plan: stadiums going digital

French stadiums have four years to achieve their digital transformation. From 2019 to 2024, France looks forward to a crescendo sporting events program: the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games, which France has been awaiting for 100 years, will be the three trial runs of the digital transformation of stadiums.

The venues of these events are not all in Paris. The stadium of Nice, for example, will host the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games. While the French capital’s Stade de France has invested massively in Wi-Fi coverage, many host stadiums may not meet the digital experience expectations of today’s spectators, who are more used to multi-screen devices than live experiences. If their expectations go unmet, the drop in attendance might take a further plunge. To rise to the occasion, stadiums are looking into the question of connected stadiums. Following in the footsteps of its neighbor, the Ernest Wallon Stadium, one of Europe’s first connected stadiums, the Toulouse Stadium has set out to prepare for the 2023 rugby games. How? By deploying a Wi-Fi, fiber-based infrastructure.

 

Feeling at home in the stadium

With the advent of the digital revolution, sports fans who used to attend live events have turned to enhanced viewing experiences in the comfort of their own homes. Watching a game has become a hyper-connected activity, smartphone in hand.

Yet, the paradigm seems to be on the verge of being reversed. However desirable, hyper-connection has its drawbacks: it makes spectators grow tired of screens and paradoxically breaks real social ties. It makes consumers long for experiences that are more rooted in the real world. Thus, those stadiums that are implementing a phygital strategy, half-way between live show and augmented digital experience, are best positioned to meet spectators’ expectations.

With one constraint however: spectators who wanted to be at home like at the stadium now wish to be at the stadium with the comfort of home, using their smartphones as remote controls …and with food readily available at their fingertips.

 

Delivering a 360-degree sporting experience

By 2024, stadiums’ broadband Wi-Fi will enable a comprehensive, 360-degree sporting experience. The live experience, coupled with big-screen viewing and connected to fiber optics, will augment the spectator experience by providing additional information and action (slow motion replays, players’ portraits, contests, voting for the match’s best player, etc.)

In parallel, expanded Wi-Fi coverage will optimize the customer experience beyond the usual snack-bar. Certain stadiums now offer hotel services. For instance, the Stade Océane of Le Havre is the first French stadium to open a hotel, the 1872 Stadium Hotel, on its own grounds. In 2019, it will open a sports bar and grill seating 350 plus 500 at the bar. Customers will be able to book a hotel room and a table for two from their stadium seats in just a few clicks on their smartphone connected to Wi-Fi.

 

Stadiums that are suffering from a drop in attendance cannot do without the digital transformation. They have a few trial runs left before the Olympic Games to fine-tune their Wi-Fi coverage and become more connected, which is the prime driver of a truly satisfying user experience.