30 March 2010
Interested as we are in social/digital media and new technology, we don't often have the opportunity to write about it in this space. That's why we were especially excited to get in touch with the gurus behind "Venuing" - a new IPhone app that claims to "revolutionize the way people experience live sporting events and concerts."
Released for free in the ITunes Store on March 22, the "Venuing" experience will fully launch on April 4 at Fenway park when the Yankees take on the Red Sox. Venuing will also roll out in three other MLB stadiums during the 2010 season - Citi Field, Citizen's Bank Park and you guessed it - Yankee Stadium.
Designed as an immersive experience, the user can communicate with other fans at the game, find nearby facilities, get reviews of concessions, play pub-style trivia games and check for news updates, all within a geo-fenced, 3D environment. If you aren't at the game, you can't use the app.
It basically turns your IPhone into a GPS device, loads it with an interactive stadium map (with 5 different views) and integrates familiar features from well-established social media properties such as Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare.
Undoubtedly, Venuing will be met with its fair share of skepticism. After all, why would someone go to a live sporting event to immerse themselves in an IPhone app? Ira Eckstein, Venuing, LLC founder and CEO doesn't look at it that way. "Venuing is turning the focus back on the fan. You're not just in the audience, you are part of the game. This app is about the fans. When viewers watch at home they get a catered experience. Fans at the games deserve a unique entertaining experience as well. They are the ones living and breathing the game, enjoying the action in real-time. Venuing is social community that will intensify that experience."
MLB Advanced Media is also planning to play in this arena, announcing "At The Ballpark" features within their 2010 At Bat app. Unfortunately, they're not ready to unleash them. In an email to NYY Stadium Insider, a spokesman for MLBAM said that "we have not yet released any details on that feature."
Venuing considers itself completely unique from "At The Ballpark" and isn't yet officially sanctioned by any teams or leagues. According to Chief Community Officer/Director of Content Tom Stuart, meetings are taking place, but it isn't their top priority. "We see ourselves as a fan source regardless, one that doesn't rely on official sanctioning," he said by email.
While we have no doubt that fans truly are a top priority for the folks at Venuing, tapping into a healthy revenue stream surely plays a major role in the creation of this new type of social network. While revenue models and projections are being kept internal, marketing initiatives can easily be integrated into many of the features, advertising relevant specials for fans at the games and engaging them in long-lasting relationships. "We are most geeked up about striking partnership deals with entities such as other sites, pro teams/schools, leagues, and also, cool, forward thinking sponsors," explained Stuart.
Taking it one step further, the Venuing team will also launch "Venuing Live" for fans stuck at home watching the game on television. This web-based micro-blog feed will revolve around the in-stadium fan banter, along with live game threads and news feeds. Their marketing team is referring to it as "gamecast on steroids."
In addition, they have a Bleacher Report style network called "Venuing Voices." This venture will feature creative content by an editorial staff - blogs, podcasts and videocasts - all meant to capture the passion of the in-stadium experience. They're actually projecting this creative aspect to draw more of an audience to the site than their technology.
This all looks compelling on paper, and it meshes perfectly with the mission statement of NYY Stadium Insider. Imagine if we were the source of some of the editorial content available to live users of rhe Venuing app. Currently, most of our new readers find us on Google when they're searching for something stadium-related. Utilizing Venuing, these potential readers can communicate with us while we're at the game and find out all of the information that typically lives on our blog.
Unless it is riddled with technical errors, this app can only add to the fan experience. Yankee Stadium doesn't have public wi-fi access, so Venuing will be at the mercy of AT&T's sometimes shoddy service. Stuart acknowledges that plenty of testing for stability will be taking place during the inaugural season and that all features won't immediately be active. "We'd rather have 5, killer, working elements before we roll out dozens of half-baked ideas."
Venuing is definitely something to pay attention to for 2010. It might even convince us to get with the times and pony up for an IPhone!