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Using AV to Enhance the Live Fan Experience

on May 13, 2019

Attending live sports is a huge industry. But with advances in in-home media systems, teams are working hard to provide added value above the comforts of home. Drawing people off their couches and into the arena is made easier as stadium owners use AV to transform fan experience.

According to a recent AVIXA Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis, venues and events are expected to produce $27.7 billion in pro-AV revenue in 2018 worldwide and grow at a healthy rate in the next five years. That’s a lot of business.

Let’s take a closer look at how sports teams are using AV to enhance the in-stadium experience, and how to be a part of that.

Quality AV

There's a lot of money on the table in professional sports, and the pain point is there—the need for fans to get out of their homes and into the stadium. So teams understand the need to invest in AV. Teams are willing to spend on not just initial quality, but equipment that can be easily updated to stay current with rapidly expanding and morphing trends in AV.

On the technical side, fan expectations of AV quality are high. To get the highest resolution possible on a huge screen, some installers may be concerned with latency. But with the right codec, latency and other issues like interoperability with other equipment shouldn’t be an issue.

Sound is a component that also shouldn’t be overlooked. Both open-air stadiums and enclosed arenas present challenges when it comes to sound design. In the open air, sound can simply evaporate. In an enclosed arena, sound needs to enhance the excitement of the game without damaging people’s eardrums. Fans are not paying to hear arena rock for three hours but to experience a game with all their senses. Sound design that works for the venue is an important aspect of integration.

State of the Stadium Art

The Atlanta stadium installed a 360 degree video wall when they rebuilt in 2017. Now some are calling the race to enhance experience through AV an all-out arms race. With AV stadium spend in the tens of billions, this race doesn’t look to be over any time soon.

Wembley Stadium in London is another venue taking AV installation very seriously. The main attraction, apart from soccer, are two large LED video displays on both ends of the stadium, measuring 26.7x78.4ft. The video walls are made with a concave design to maximize the visual impact for the most spectators. With a resolution of 528x1560 pixels in a 15HD pixel layout, the displays offer views of the action that are hard to match at home.

Immersive AV

AV played a large role on two different Celtics projects. HB Communications partnered with the Celtics, architect, and construction teams to design a cutting edge Audio Visual system for not only the players, but for all executives, administrative, and medical personnel within the facility. The most unique aspects of the project were the multiple dynamic video walls in the lobby and player’s lounge. In each location, HB Communication’s Digital Media and Programming team created a custom video processing system to virtually enable the Celtics to stream any content source they desire. The banner wall wraps around the entire room, shows near real-time scores or a custom banner, and is controlled by Celtics staff. The Auerbach Center’s overall atmosphere was boosted through a dominating audio visual experience. 

HB also brought the game overseas to the Celtics 10th annual Seats for Soldiers game. Utilizing a StarLeaf video conferencing system, HB and the Celtics provided live video conferencing in a private meeting room to enable deployed soldiers and their families to talk face-to-face on video with crystal clear audio. While the private, live video chat wasn’t the same as physically being in the room, HB Communication’s AV technology helped bridge the gap in geographical location between soldiers and their families.

Think Like a Fan

How do you take the AV experience beyond what a fan would have in their own living room or basement media center? Teams are engaging integrators—to answer that question in big ways.

Thinking bigger than what a fan will have at home is where integrators are in their element. With big budgets and big expectations, AV can really assist sports teams in making a memorable, worth-the-price-of-admission experience for die-hard sports fans.

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