Owen Evans looks at how mobile digital platform Fanmode is looking to monetise the emotional behaviour of football fans watching a game.
Most companies launching a business around football fan behaviour target their ticket-buying habits or half-time food and drink preferences.
However Fanmode, a real-time sports fan engagement app, is looking at fan behaviour in the far more literal sense – specifically how a supporter thinks, and moves his or her body, when watching a game.
The Fanmode app launched in August and records a fan’s emotional and physical actions while they are at a match in person or in their own living room watching on TV. Once they are logged in, Fanmode users broadcast their support for their team to the entire world via gestures – clapping, cheering or waving their flag. The platform’s vibecast service captures this ‘emotional data’ in real-time to create a graphical representation of their emotions that can be displayed on broadcast platforms, on social media and on stadium screens.
Neven Murugan, the founder and CEO of Fanmode, built the original prototype and signed an agreement with Wembley Stadium to trial the technology at this year’s Community Shield in August, played between Manchester City and Arsenal.
The plan, he says, was to “connect the world to the stadium” using Fanmode: “The emotional big data generated by fans all around the world is something that sporting teams and brands work hard to tap into – with Fanmode, we can share this data and potential revenue derived from the platform with stakeholders in the sports industry.
“A core part of our philosophy is that digital engagement by fans should benefit their favourite clubs.”
“How do we capture the enthusiasm of the global fans? This is one of the major questions facing the industry at the moment,” adds Fanmode co-founder Christian Jochnick. “This is where Fanmode comes in as it enhances the fans’ sense of belonging, no matter where they are in the world.
“If you look at the UEFA Champions League’s Facebook presence, the top three countries in absolute terms are Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil. Obviously, none of those countries have a team in the tournament, and in the case of Indonesia, it doesn’t even have a player.”
The plan was to connect the world to the stadium
The success of Fanmode will depend on whether football fans are prepared to interact with their smartphones on the Fanmode platform – or strap it to their arm – while cheering or clapping, for the data to be recorded.
Currently, fans using the Fanmode app have to swipe up on their phone to cheer, swipe down to boo, and once they’ve accumulated enough points, swipe right for a ‘super cheer’. You can also tap to clap, and wave your phone around in the air as if it’s a flag. But the likelihood the majority of fans won’t be prepared to do that while watching a game.
However, it’s hard to imagine fans will ever change their instinctive behaviour after a goal goes in or a penalty is saved, and with wearable technology hitting the market rapidly – such as Apple’s new Watch – Fanmode is in a perfect position to launch an updated app that will make the experience far more natural and automated.
Murugan says another way the Fanmode app can capture fan behaviour is through technology integrated into clothing – such as replica shirts – which would also enable Fanmode to measure a fan’s body temperature and heart rate.