Every year around this time football fans are drafting their fantasy leagues, wearing their favorite team's jerseys, stocking tailgate items and experiencing the new technologies that have become part of the game. From Second Screen apps to Catapult, technology is not only changing the game but also how fans experience the contest.
As more fans engage with mobile devices, the TV broadcast is being regulated as the Second Screen. Usually the mobile device is used to access information that compliments the program but with NFL fans, particularly those who play fantasy leagues, it is the reverse. They are locked in to their mobile app, following multiple games, tracking stats, clicking on-demand videos and even watching teams not associated with their local market. The NFL sees a huge opportunity to reach and engage fans even more.
Australia-based Catapult is being used by many NFL teams to track athlete performance among other metrics. A 3.5-ounce monitor situated between the player's shoulder blades monitors player movements within 15 centimeters and gives coaches acceleration, distance covered, speed, explosion times, exertion, hitting force and every other imaginable piece of data on a player's specific movements. It is changing the manner in which teams practice, recover from injuries and even plan for games.
The San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium is touted as the most technologically advanced stadium in the league. With their stadium app, fans can check bathroom, food and beer lines along with streaming replays (with your choice of camera angle) and streaming NFL Redzone. There is plenty of WiFi capacity, which is actually uncommon at NFL stadiums. There is only a handful of teams with WiFi service in their football stadiums but Roger Goodell (NFL commissioner) wants to make wireless internet a standard in NFL stadiums in the coming years.
There are many other advances like safer helmets with a chip that monitors the force of a hit, 2100-inch HDTVs, retractable grass and sustainable stadiums all making an impact. The best place to watch football is in the comfort of your own living room and teams are looking at ways of creating a living room atmosphere for 80,000 fans.