Wi-Fi a hit with Major League Baseball's marketing machine

Major League Baseball wants every stadium to have Wi-Fi by opening day of the 2015 season--but maybe not for the usual reasons.

In a twist to the traditional model, the league says it really wants to provide Wi-Fi to its customers so they can do the marketing for them--rather than using Wi-Fi to market direct to the fans, according to a New York Business Journal article.

"We started doing it for perhaps the wrong reasons: Our ability to reach you," said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media LP during an Advertising Week presentation, according to the article. "You're the customer, now we want to send something, push something to you."

However, that motivation eventually turned itself around. "But in today's world, it's almost reverse. You're taking a selfie with your daughter, your spouse, you're posting it, you're Tweeting it, that's all outbound from your fans. If you think about it, there's no better marketing," he said.

Of course, MLB still has plans for reaching consumers via Wi-Fi and for monetizing its fans via smartphones and digital tickets. Bowman said tactics like push notification discounts will be minimized but he still expects to build customer-relations databases via mobile technology.

About 74 million people walk through a Major League Baseball turnstile every year and another 40 in the minor leagues, and it wants to know who those people are, he said.

Over at the National Football League, the Wi-Fi experience hasn't been so great for coaches using private Wi-Fi networks during games. The Boston Globe reported last month that Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, was losing the Internet connection to the tablet computer he carries on the sidelines during games to review plays. Interference from outside sources using the same or nearby frequencies could be the cause of the problems.

The private NFL Wi-Fi system is different from the public Wi-Fi networks that many stadiums are installing for use by their fans. AT&T (NYSE: T) deployed an extensive Wi-Fi network within AT&T Stadium, home of Dallas Cowboys football, with enough cellular-network capacity to serve a small suburb. It also installed the first stadium LED display built to respond directly to fans.

For more:
- see this New York Business Journal article

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