The GAA has made a significant further step into the world of digital with the launch of a programmes app on iTunes that enables fans from around the world to download a copy of the official match programme for all inter county fixtures.
The trend towards digital has gathered pace in the past 12 months with many soccer clubs in Britain and Europe now focused almost as much on the digital programme as the printed version on sale at matches.
The GAA has adopted a pricing policy of €54.99 for a season’s worth of programmes which may limit the short term uptake in demand by making it a significant rather than an impulse purchase.
The average price of an app on itunes is €1.04.
It is the publishers of the official Croke Park programmes, DBA Publishing that have developed the app and it will include live team information, match stats and features that are specific to the online version. It is intended to appeal to fans both at the game carrying their devices as well as to those overseas or watching from home.
One of the organisations deeply committed to digital is Arsenal FC who stated in a Financial Times article earlier this year that their aim was ‘to get 100 million people into the Emirates Stadium on a matchday’.
This is of course a figurative number but with the amount of digital content and the number of ways that fans can interact with a game they are watching on a first, second or third screen anywhere in the world the point is well made.
Arsenal display messages from the Chinese equivalent of twitter, weibo, on interactive boards around the stadium during matches. They have over one million followers on the service, as well as 2.5 million on twitter, over four times that of Man United who were the last big club to enter the twitter sphere at the start of their pre-season tour.
The capacity at the Arsenal stadium is 60,000 and average sales of match programmes in the ground are 12,500. Mid way through last season the average digital download was 5,000. Arsenal allow payment of £3 per programme, the same as the print version, and the crossing point for which sells more will doubtless come early in the new season.
The brand value of sales to those away from the ground, as well as additional revenue is an important bonus for the GAA but it also provides ample opportunity to learn about fan activity within the stadium and guide it towards the sale of certain products.
If the app has been downloaded there is value in Elvery’s promoting a discount on the sales of jerseys of the winning teams from this weekend’s All Ireland Quarter Finals and pushing that message to fans as the final whistle blows. When better to complete a sale than in the glow of success.
It also presents additional opportunities for sponsors to build and measure engagement with fans and make a relationship with sport even stronger as a channel for marketing spend.
Sports Revolution has worked with clubs and sports bodies in Britain and Ireland to develop ideas including a fans vote for Man of the Match at Newcastle United where 5,000 fans regularly vote and get a time limited but exclusive 20% discount voucher to spend in the club shop as a reward.
With advances in wi fi accessibility in stadia it may also be possible to carry live interviews with managers and players at half time or straight after the game and initially to make them exclusive for those who have downloaded the app.
There are so many ways of adding value and revenue in a way that is appreciated by the fans and positive for the sport.
The GAA added an app to show highlights of games in February of this year and has now completed a full list of social media enabled county boards. In five years time such ‘innovation’ will be seen as a very early step indeed.
The 100 million in a stadium may yet be some way off for Croke Park but by the time of next year’s World Cup Final in Brazil it will seem a lot closer than it does today.
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