The Golden State Warriors Are Leading the Charge to Use Video Conferencing to Engage Sports Fans

Video conferencing is bringing sports fans closer to the action.

The Golden State Warriors may have fallen sickeningly short of winning the 2016 NBA championship, but they have picked up a small consolation prize.

No, not Kevin Durant.

The team received the Sports Team of the Year award by the Sports Business Journal.

OK, so Durant is probably the better prize.

But the Sports Business Journal award, which is skewed toward a team’s performance off the court, does have some significance, especially for the video conferencing world.

The Warriors were acknowledged in part because of their embrace of video calling as a means of interacting with their fans. They do so in a more advanced manner than most teams, and hopefully their high profile will cause other teams to improve what they do online.

Meet the Golden State Warriors

Of course, all major sports teams make time for their lifeblood, their fans.

Many of them also do so online through fan-only videos and public video chat that invite fans to leave their questions as chat messagesWhat is less common is direct, two-way video calling communication. The NBA did stage a fan-focused Google Hangout around the draft, and invited players to join the conversation, taking questions from those who pay to watch them play.

The Warriors, however, have moved beyond the use of basic public VC platforms and have instead recently partnered with private provider Zoom.

As the team’s leaders themselves have said, the Warriors’ proximity to Silicon Valley makes it a natural candidate to embrace a system a little more advanced than the populist choices. The team has also hinted at investing in the tech scene. For now, though, it is enough to be at the forefront of fan involvement, and to rank among the sporting world’s “digitally fit”.

Basketball Meets Video Calling

The Warrior’s partnership with Zoom is in its infancy, but there are a number of ways the two could work together.

  •        Free for Fans – There are plenty of VC services out there that let non-subscribers join in the conversation. No fan should have to sign-up to chat with their heroes.
  •        Digital Playbook – Screen sharing–and Zoom has HD screen sharing–is a great way to display video and multimedia. Guide your fans through the Xs and Os of success on court.
  •        Gather as One – Like a few other services, such as BlueJeans, Zoom lets you create a town hall-like atmosphere by including 50 VC connections. Gather the season ticket holders together for major announcements or just to say thanks.
  •        Fan-Only Content – With encrypted, invitation-only links, fans can get a brief word in with the players before and after games…or perhaps during downtime on the team bus?

Of course, the Warriors don’t have a monopoly on video conferencing technology, and there’s a big world of sports fans waiting to be better engaged in their favorite game.

The Future of Video Conferencing in Sports

We’ve written previously about how fantasy sports could be improved with the use of video conferencing, but what about sports proper?

The NFL has suffered a decline in TV audience numbers this year, so perhaps it’d be willing to try something new to invigorate its fan base? Just put a tablet in the hands of a team official, or an injured or inactive player and you could give fans an alternative insight into the game as it unfolds. Fans could ask on-the-fly questions and maybe even push their way into a sideline huddle.

Major League Baseball certainly has plenty of time in between pitches to let someone from the team chat with fans live from the dugout. Teams pump out all manner of tweets and instant messaging during games, so why can’t they open the door a little further for the real fans?

Teams of all kinds could even perform virtual visits with schools and junior teams the world over through video conferencing services like Zoom, and perhaps act as celebrity refs for older amateur teams.

Finally, on the front office side of things, teams could use mass two-way broadcasts to gauge fan support for initiatives or get them to vote on new team colors and logos, themed game day activities, and maybe even team captains.

The Warriors are out in front of the digital crowd, but there’s plenty of room for everyone willing to embrace the latest digital advances.

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