Arena Football League Fans Tap Into Txtstation

By Carolyn Braff
In a world of instant gratification,
Txtstation has taken text voting to a gratifying extreme. Throughout
the Arena Football League playoffs and Sunday’s ArenaBowl XXII in
New Orleans, fans can interact with the stadium’s video board from
their arena seats or home recliner. Txtstation’s software records
votes cast for the game’s MVP via cell phone, landline or Internet,
then tabulates the votes in real time as a fluctuating percentage graphic
in the arena, so fans can see
the effect their vote has on the total.
“You can actually see the votes come
in on this graphic in real time from web, SMS and landlines,” explains
Michael Falato, vice president of sales and business development for
Txtstation. “You see that and you engage more in the graphic than
putting a text message out and three quarters later finding out who
Txtstation, founded in New Zealand
in 2001 to provide text-to-screen services at concerts, works with teams,
arenas and broadcasters to incorporate its multi-platform, carrier agnostic
graphics system into television productions and in-venue video boards.
“We can put up a graphic on TV and
the same vote is piped up to the arena and online, so you see the same
results,” Falato explains. “It’s pretty versatile. We want to
give the opportunity for fans to engage with the brand and the team
however they feel comfortable, whether they’re on the website, on
their cell phone or by a land line.”
To produce the graphics, Txtstation
develops a template using a graphics machine and sends a representative
on site to install the system and teach arena and broadcast operators
how to use it.
“We build a template, whether it’s
in Chyron or a Harris Inscriber or Flash, and the questions and answers
can be switched off on the fly,” Falato explains. “We set up so
that you have a 3, 4 or 5 way vote.”
The graphics can be produced in SD,
HD, 4:3 or anamorphic, depending on the in-venue display board or the
broadcaster’s needs.
“If you want to make the graphic
a lower third, just put a chroma key on top of it, and that way you
can actually use it not always as a full screen,” Falato adds.
Txtstation offers software-only, Internet
delivery and hardware versions of its product, so the arena, team or
broadcaster can choose the format that best fits their needs. Txtstation
Lite, the company’s newest product, is entirely web-based using Flash,
which enables the graphics to conform to TV or scoreboard needs quickly,
without involving any hardware.
“Our producers don’t like to drag
around a piece of equipment when they go from truck to truck, so whatever
format fits into their environment, we can fit into that,” Falato
In addition to working with the Arena
Football League to crown this year’s MVP, Txtstation has provided
software for leagues (UFC), teams (Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks),
and broadcasters (NFL Network, TNT) across the country. Brands like
Alltel wireless have also utilized Txtstation’s services for events
like NFL Draft parties, where the creative applications of the service
are endless.
“We’ve done text wars, pitting
one section of the stadium versus another section, and the winner gets
a coupon sent to their phones,” Falato explains. He has also created
text clubs, where fans use their mobile phones to opt into receiving
team alerts and special offers, which often include advertising-driven
discounts from team sponsors.
“There are lots of ways to build
the database and drive activations,” Falato adds. “Brands want to
be able to touch people not just during the event, but after the event,
and this is a great way to do that.”

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