SXSW Session Review: Arena vs. Couch the Battle of Game Day Experience

Yesterday we checked out the Arena vs. Couch the Battle of Game Day ExperienceA great #SXSports conversation between Brain Srabian (San Francisco Giants), Bob Morgan (Facebook) and Jordan Maleh (University of Michigan ), it provided great insights about the steps Sports Marketing leaders are taking to leverage social to accelerate their brands.

The panel used a colorful quote from Mark Cuban to jumpstart the conversation, “I don’t want to add WIFI to this stadium because it hurts the fan experience, people can't clap if they’re holding a smartphone"

According to Srabian, 90% of San Francisco Giant fans are bringing smartphones to the stadium. This has led the team to build technology to meet their fan's thirst for content and provide technology that will enhance their experience. For Srabain, an Instragram photo shared from the ballpark, “is a big part of our marketing program, a postcard, that instant 'wish you were here' piece of content that makes people not want to miss the next one.” Therefore, they’ve taken steps to make sure the fans at the stadium are enabled to create this content, efforts like their @SocialCafe and WiFi access at the stadium.

When asked about the opportunity to monetize social content created by fans, Srabian described a two-way street. Sometimes the team will create a property, like their InstaWall, and have a sponsor sign on after the fact; while other opportunities start with an approach from sponsors to collaborate on creating a custom property

Bob Morgan brought incredible insight to the conversation, tapping into his experience as the founder of, a social startup recently purchased by Facebook.  He validated the incredible value of sports as an engine to create social shares with some hard-to-ignore data: Five of the top ten check-in venues on Facebook’s platform were sports venues. And The SuperBowl generated 50 million unique users posting about it, 185 million different interactions

The numbers have propelled brands to explore new ways to help fans in the stadium produce content, and fans at home consume it. This in turn, has made platforms like Facebook focus on providing solutions for brands to curate these conversations, sift through the noise, and surface the one piece of content that is most relevant.

Technology and buzzwords aside, we are still talking about conversations, produced by people who are passionate about a topic. Whether it be an awesome play, a trade, or a SuperBowl commercial, it will be interesting to see how technology continues to enable sports brands to step into the conversation. 


Miguel Fernandez's picture

Miguel Fernandez

Miguel Fernández is a Product Marketing Manager here in Austin, although his heart remains in his native Puerto Rico.