Vivid Sky proof positive of fans desire to get connected in the stands

By Ken Kerschbaumer

In-arena and stadium technologies continue to gain traction as Vivid Sky’s handheld video replay and information system is currently deployed not only by the Detroit Red Wings but also the St. Louis Cardinals. “Less than two years ago the first device we offered weighed about as
much as a laptop and had a stylus the size of a number two pencil,”
says Tim Hayden, Vivid Sky president. “Now we have the Apple iPhone and
iPod Touch. We have the Sony PSP. And soon we’ll have the new Google
Android phones. Technology is evolving…quickly.”

For example, a trial last year by the Detroit Tigers found that 80% of
first-time users intended to use it again. “We’ve added more content
this season,” says Hayden. “In addition, around the All-Star Game fans will be able to purchase tickets,
merchandise, and memorabilia, so the teams can expand their
revenue streams.”

The company’s technology, called SkyBOX, allows fans to view different camera angles, look up game statistics and even order food (and have it delivered via GPS) on a handheld unit. In addition to the iPhone it is also compatible with XP and Vista for in-suite computer system.

Hayden says fans who already have advanced mobile devices are the key to the Vivid Sky business model. “If a fan brings his or her own device that is one less device we have to figure out how to monetize,” says Hayden. “In addition, fans demand to use the device they own.”

The backend of the Vivid Sky system involves a PC that taps into the scoreboard video operations. It encodes incoming video signals and game data and readies it for delivery to the devices via WiFi.

“If there is one misperception I would say it lies in the minds of advertisers who still measure value and success in terms of old-school CPM,” says Hayden. “The SkyBOX gives sponsors the ability to truly engage the fan and create a one-to-one dialogue with their customer. The shotgun approach is changing into a rifle approach.”

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