Wireless phone service provider UScellular tweeted findings from an artificial-intelligence-driven experiment it conducted at State Farm Stadium during Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl LVII that showed about 24 percent of attendees missed seeing a least one of the game’s touchdowns because they were looking at their phone instead of watching the action on the field.
The company also reported that nine percent of fans preferred to watch their phones rather than check out Rihanna’s halftime performance, while six percent didn’t see the Kansas City Chiefs’ game-winning field-goal because they were paying more attention to the screen in their hands.
Although UScellular has not provided further details of its study, it is the latest example of how tech is deployed to gain critical data on fan behavior that can be turned into insights benefitting rights holders and their brand partners.
In this case, properties and sponsors could leverage information on phone use during live events to develop activations that could either counteract device usage or be part of a “if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em” strategy.
For example, if teams and brands want to encourage fans to put their phones down and enjoy the game, they could partner to provide ticket-buyers with unique video highlights so that fans don’t feel compelled to record their own. Or, acknowledging that phones have become part of the live-event experience, they can introduce mobile-only promotions that take advantage of phone activity during the game.
Of course most of the information needed will not come from one-off experiments like UScellular’s, which was done to support its Phone Downs for 5 campaign, which challenges consumers to get off their devices. Rather, the best source of AI-powered insights—as with other audience data—will come from teams, leagues and event owners themselves as they continue to deploy new tools to track everything fans do on site, from where they park to which gate they enter to how and where they buy food, drinks and merchandise.
Led by NFL teams such as the 49ers, Lions and Vikings, among others, rightsholders are building out their ability to capture unique data on the fan experience through analytics war rooms and other high-tech solutions. In addition to allowing teams and venues to take on-the-fly actions to alleviate long-lines, etc., the information gleaned could—and should—be shared with partners to assist them with developing new activations that could support improvement of the gameday experience, e.g., sponsoring upgraded remote parking shuttle service or re-imagining their experiential space to provide for more efficient interactions.