Transformation through digitalisation: new perspectives on the fan experience

12 May 2022 – The second content track of the SportsInnovation 2022 conference programme, “Fan Experience and Stadium”, kicked off by exploring how innovation and digital transformation have the potential to radically change professional sport. Guests included Joshua Helmrich (Director Media and Business Development for the American football league NFL), Andreas Heyden (Executive Vice President Digital Innovations for the DFL), Timm Jäger (CEO of EintrachtTech) and Emanuelle Roger (CEO of

EintrachtTech, said Jäger, was founded to improve the competitive conditions for Eintracht Frankfurt through innovation and digitalisation, with one of the most important things being to further enhance the relationship between the fans and club by digital means too. Roger, meanwhile, described a range of exciting pilot projects launched in collaboration with the DFL and designed to create a whole new match experience with the help of augmented reality (AR) glasses. The question of what innovative services fans want is not easy to answer, said Heyden, but the most important thing is to offer a range of options and analyse their usage. The NFL, too, is conducting intensive fan-related research, including in collaboration with their media partners, said Helmrich. Among the aims here is to supply fans with data designed to give them even greater insight into what’s happening on the field.

Pioneering national and international projects

Dirk Lueth, co-founder of the metaverse-focused company Upland, outlined his vision in which the real world becomes merged with the virtual. The subsequent talk with hosts Rolf Leister and Alexander Schlicher, CEO and founder of Fansea, discussed the possibilities and opportunities presented by the metaverse and Web 3.0 for the world of professional football.

Skarpi Hedinsson, Chief Technology Officer of the NFL team Los Angeles Rams, talked about an ambitious stadium construction project which was completed in 2020. The team’s home, the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, is one of the world’s most innovative sporting arenas. A ring-shaped LED display is suspended over the entire field and complemented by hundreds of additional displays throughout the stadium. Sophisticated, real-time 3D rendering technology delivers a whole range of exciting visuals for the spectators. The SoFi Stadium is also equipped with powerful wireless infrastructure that can easily support even the most intensive use of 5G, said Hedinsson.

Skarpi Hedinsson.

Albrecht von Senden, CEO of Tipico Technology Services GmbH, talked about the role of sports betting as one of many forms of fan engagement. He outlined how Tipico, which operates in a data-intensive and highly regulated industry, utilises artificial intelligence (AI) and a scalable computing infrastructure to enable secure customer transactions.

In another discussion session, Maximilian Fürst (Team Manager Gaming Operation at Hertha BSC GmbH & Co. KGaA), Birger Nass (Senior Manager Security Management for the DFL), Kai Ruben (Head of Organisation at Borussia Dortmund) and Viviane Schmidt (Lead Solution Architect Edge and Data Analytics for Hewlett Packard Enterprise) focused on the diverse range of stadium innovations developed in Germany. Among the pilot projects coordinated by the DFL and DFB are drone systems for the stadium security services, AI-based people counting and control systems as well as a range of event management solutions.