That may be changing soon — at least for professional football. The Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is forcing all 32 teams to meet a minimum threshold for Wi-Fi and cellular connection requirements by the end of the 2014 season.
The NFL hopes that teams, specifically ones with city-owned stadiums, can use the new rules as leverage when attempting to make Wi-Fi improvements. It wants better connectivity for fans so to improve the overall experience, of course, but also so that the league can gather better marketing data via social media reaction.
There are no penalties in place for teams who do not meet the requirements within 15 months, but an NFL rep told the SBJ that ticket sales will drop as a result, and that “they will suffer enough consequences not doing it.”
Here in Seattle, AT&T —the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders’ contracted service provider — just installed a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that helps bolster AT&T’s wireless coverage throughout the stadium. For now, only AT&T customers will see a difference, but thankfully for everyone else, AT&T built its DAS in a way to allow for additional carriers.
Currently, 20 NFL stadiums have Wi-Fi networks, but some of those do not meet the NFL’s new requirements and the 11 other venues simply do not have anything set up — including CenturyLink Field.
As franchises around the globe look to use smartphones to improve the in-game experience, strong connections are becoming even more of a priority. Poor wireless service is actually one of the reasons cited for a decrease in college football student attendance.