Fans at the game: craving food, beer and mobile experiences. [INFOGRAPHIC]

Pete Smyth, January 30, 2013

Using mobile and tablets to enhance sports fans' experiences while watching the game at home or the bar is becoming more common. There has been plenty of "second screen" research and marketing programs in the past year. See the recent Neilsen report, recall Chevy's Game Time app from last year's Super Bowl and see what Coke is up to for this year's game at

Just like their friends watching at home and interacting with their second screens, fans attending live sporting events are using their smartphones to enhance their in-venue experience. Until now, little to no research could be found on the subject on how fans use their smartphones at live sporting events.

iamota, a leading mobile agency based in Vancouver, recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 Canadian smartphone owners who attended at least one major sporting event in the past year to better understand how sports fans use smartphones at live sporting events, what their motivations are for using smartphones for different activities, and their level of interest in using smartphones for new activities. The key findings of the survey are displayed in the infographic below.

Rather than cause a distraction, fans look to mobile to enhance their in-game experience. Fans are on their smartphones an average of 6 times per game - with heavy users over 11 times. This presents an opportunity for sponsors, sports organizations and venues to increase fan engagement via in-game mobile experiences.

The most popular activities are taking photos at the game and communicating by text, email and chat - either related to the game or about another topic. The research shows that smartphones are a good way to fill downtime during an event, and the majority see smartphones as adding to their overall experience.

Results show a strong interest in being able to participate in more smartphone activities during live sporting events particularly, accessing free WiFi, purchasing food and beverage services to be delivered to their seats, participating in polls, trivia or contests to win prizes, viewing stats, updates and replays, and accessing exclusive content.

Interest in these mobile experiences are highest among those who frequent sporting events often, those who already use their smartphones at sporting events (especially iPhone owners), and those under 55 years of age. Also, at the risk of feeding stereotypes, females are more interested in social activities, while males are more interested in stats, team and player content.

It will be fascinating to see what in-venue mobile experiences are provided during the Super Bowl this coming weekend. Beyond the "one off" big game mobile experiences like the Super Bowl, could mobile be leveraged to enhance ongoing fan experiences? For example, NHL teams could deploy in-venue mobile experiences as part of their efforts to reconnect with hockey fans following the recent lockout.