Case Study: Sports & Push Notifications

In Cannes, Mobile, Sports Media on July 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I can remember a time when I would ask friends to text me updates during Penguins Hockey games when I couldn’t watch them. That reliance on someone, something was in place to assure that you knew the score, even when you weren’t at the game or in front of a TV. A lot has changed since then. Twitter’s inception has forced both news organizations and sports entities to constantly communicate in the now. No longer needing a text or the next day’s paper to inform you, you can know the second that anything happens. Play-by-Play and commentary come from the teams themselves but also journalists and anyone, allowing the pool of information to grow. However, even as technology advances all of these required the user, or interested person to go and search for the information.

Enter Push Notifications. Many of us have them for our favorite news organizations or sports teams. Fitting in with the developing Web 3.0 trend of the news and media coming to you, an alert or nice looking text box will appear on your screen and sometimes send you into utter distraction reading whatever article or latest score update has come your way.

Self admittedly, I’m a junkie for push notifications and have allowed them to become an integral and absolutely daily/regular part of my life. I was really excited, then, when I came across Urban Airship at the MMA both at Cannes Lions. Specializing in mobile marketing management, Urban Airship offers management of push notifications from creation to delivery and also houses analytics to study how push notifications are viewed or used.

Their website features several success stories in sports, one of which being the Vancouver Canucks.

The case study says that for the first agency who attempted to institute a push notification program, a scalability problem arose. With over 100,000 downloads and multiple notifications per game and night, size was massive. After utilizing a platform such as the one Urban Airship offers the results were as follows:

“The reaction was astounding – not only did the team exceed their expected downloads by 600%, but over the course of the season the Canucks sent out over 90 million targeted push notifications to fans and grew the opted-in fanbase by 56%.”

This is just one example, but you will be hard pressed to find a professional team in the NHL, MLB, NFL, or European Soccer that doesn’t consider push notifications as a given.  Not all AHL or minor league teams have created such offerings yet, but the notifications have become common place.

The next consideration is how to use them. When downloading the general NHL app or even an ESPN or TSN app, favorite teams can be selected and notifications set up through that platform as well. In this way, you could receive score alert information in the form of push notifications from 4 apps at once. It all comes down to preference, however. You have the option to choose to receive notifications after each period, or in real time, or even just once after the game. This allows for preference for a number of teams, giving the fans the ability to get limited news about some teams and heavily detailed updates about others.

In the land of social TV, sports is one broadcast in which live and timely will never disappear. Post airings of sport games or time shifted information will never be successful when up to the minute remains the priority in this sphere. Push notifications allows for fans to have all of the information at their finger tips and not search for it, it comes to them.

I think this type of information sharing will only increase as digitization continues and the shift towards a web 3.0 goes on. Perhaps will see customizable push notifications being offered such as indepth line up or injury reports, or even fun facts before a game. In this way, it can almost become a form of content creation rather than just statistical notification.

  1. Good points here. Sports is different from all other kinds of media because “right now” matters. It allows advertisers to actually know their commercials aren’t being skipped and it also requires a good deal of money and effort to keep the game information flowing instantaneously and continuously. I get so mad if my sports app is behind on the play-by-play. The game can be won on a single play and for whatever reason, I refuse to wait even five seconds! Hah. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how the push notifications and play-by-play technology adapt with time.

  2. I agree totally! Thanks for your feedback. The right now aspect is so important. I was in Europe during the stanley cup finals and even like being way off time, it mattered so much to get live updates. Waiting is not part of sports, especially when fans are passionate. Teams need to leverage and fulfill that passion, not frustrate!

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