Silicon Valley shows San Francisco Giants how to use a stadium intranet for profit
When I learned how the public address system captioning is done at Giants baseball games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, I was quite surprised at how advanced it really is. The system is called FanCaption, and it’s quite successful. It’s actually part of a free market solution, because it’s integrated into the FanConnex “Digital Dugout” stadium/arena intranet system, which provides for the fan experience so crucial for sports venue success. It’s a Free Market solution that just happens to have captioning for the hearing impaired.
Do you want to see a replay? How about the batting average of a player, or the speed of the last pitch? Perhaps a between-innings interview of a player or coach? Would you like a hot dog and coke, delivered right to your seat? How about a souvenir cap and jersey? Did one of the stadium photographers walking around snap your picture? Just a couple of touches on your mobile and the food, beverage, souvenir and photo products are delivered right to your seat, with no waiting in concession lines. And if you don’t have a mobile, there are several hundred iPod Touch units at each stadium to loan. Oh, and By The Way: If you have trouble hearing the PA announcements, just click on FanCaptions and there they are, delivered in a scrollable Twitter -style news feed.
Unlike standalone PA captioning schemes that stand alone, such as the four display signs around FedEx Field in Washington, DC that don’t really enhance the perceived value for normal hearing people, FanCaption is integrated into a system that is designed to generate concession revenue, with the captions “tagging along” for the free ride.
San Francisco’s AT&T Park was the first to roll out the “Digital Dugout” with FanCaptions in 2008, with technology partners AT&T, Apple and Cisco. The Milwaukee Brewers rolled out FanCaptions in June 2009; and this season the Oakland Athletics, across the Bay from San Fran, rolled out the system.
Baseball season is in the middle round of the playoffs, and San Francisco only has three more home games before it’s lights out until April. And because FanCaption is web based, anyone can see it in action Tuesday evening (UK time). Just go here to the Giants Digital Dugout where you can see the actual captions in progress for Tuesday night’s game starting at 9PM UK time (1PM Pacific). The 4th game of the series (schedule) is Wednesday 4:30PM Pacific (12:30AM UK), and the 5th game is Thursday 4:30PM Pacific (12:30AM UK)… And then it’s lights out until April 2011.
Sports franchises should take a look at this system, as it will provide profits as well as legal compliance for their venues. With even LFC just fetching £300 million, the pressure is on for teams to generate positive cash flow and produce profits.
Roll on, London Olympics 2012!