large screen above a crowded sports stadium shows a man dunking a basketball

The Increasingly Important Role of IPTV in College & University Sports Venues

According to Nielsen data, college basketball’s March Madness games have consistently been among the most-watched sporting events in the United States, drawing millions of viewers across broadcast and streaming platforms. A significant part of the tournament’s viewing appeal revolves around seeing tens of thousands of rabid fans attend games for high-profile matchups.

As a result, maximizing the venue experience has emerged as a critical imperative for tournament and venue decision-makers. It is in this context that internet protocol television (IPTV) technology is playing a rising role in supporting fan engagement across a growing number of major sports venues – including those hosting March Madness events.

Here, Andy Wagner, who leads the NFL and collegiate sports entertainment markets for VITEC, offers his insights on the evolution of IPTV in collegiate sports.

The fan experience at college sports venues is being redefined by IPTV

IPTV is playing an increasingly important role in defining — and even managing – the kind of experience colleges and university leaders want to deliver to a diverse fan base. In addition to students, alumni, parents, and fans from visiting teams are all part of the community that make up the fan base.

Unlike those who tune in to watch the tournament on TV, there is much more to these events than the games themselves. Most venues host multiple sports and entertainment events during this period. The audiovisual infrastructure at these locations must support the diversity of activity throughout the day during the tournament. Addressing different requirements in an agile and effective manner is extremely challenging for legacy systems managing audiovisual assets like TVs and digital signage.

IPTV, by contrast, is much more flexible and efficient in managing its facilities day to day. This is mainly because IPTV systems can be integrated into institutions’ information technology networks and infrastructures. As a result, they can be remotely managed and monitored, allowing venue operators to quickly troubleshoot issues, update content, and ensure smooth operation without needing technician support at the screen level. Before IPTV, someone would have to go from screen to screen with a remote control to change channels or activate a digital signage program.

IPTV is a game changer for college sports venue managers

During March Madness, for instance, IPTV allowed managers to transform screens into advertising channels that cater to the specific audience attending different parts of the venue and support different types of events — from pep rallies to concerts — which often take place during the day of big games.

IPTV helps to configure set-ups specifically designed for men’s basketball games. Then, with the push of a button, there’s flexibility to switch the venue’s configuration to support an entirely different set of requirements for the next night’s game, which could be a women’s basketball or volleyball match. This flexibility enhances the fan experience in an operationally and financially effective manner, which is an important benefit as leaders look for ways to provide enhanced value to fans, encouraging them to attend events instead of watching from home.

A key focus for decision-makers: fan engagement & providing value to fans

One of the main goals in sports today is to enhance the fan experience and provide value so that fans choose to come to the venue rather than watch from the comfort of their homes. By adopting IPTV, leaders can deliver value in new ways, within their colleges and universities, through the increased flexibility and the ability to adapt audiovisual resources to the specific needs of different events and audiences.

Leaders need to establish a clear vision of how their institutions will apply an IPTV system, which includes considering what role IPTV will play in enhancing campus life. While it is tempting to replicate what other schools are doing, it is not often possible to drop in an identical system.

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