Advances in digital technology over the past two decades have transformed the live event experience and, according to Myriam Calaber, European sales director for Exterity, signage and IPTV solutions are key to this.

Exterity is a market leader in products, solutions and services that enable organisations to distribute HD quality video and audio to an unlimited number of end points. The services of the Scotland-headquartered company, which was founded in 2001, are used in more than 40 countries. Exterity’s client list includes the British Horseracing Authority, Celtic FC, golf’s Open Championship and Ulster Rugby.

“In venues, we deploy IPTV and signage,” Calaber tells TheStadiumBusiness.com. “This environment is really dedicated to the fan experience. It’s really a matter of user experience, how to inform them, allow them to not only see the sport on the pitch, but stay informed about the event itself with information concerning the team, the place, or where the event is taking place. It is a communications tool for the fans.”

Fan retention

Calaber says the key factor for Exterity’s clients when measuring return on investment is the retention and engagement of fans. If deployed effectively, IPTV and digital signage can encourage fans to spend more time at the venue and to be more engaged with live action and related content.

Digital signage can be an important tool in both promoting the venue and generating revenue from third-party organisations.

“The idea is to make people come back,” Calaber said. “They get sold the capabilities thanks to the signage to direct people to a certain place in the stadium. For example, there are restaurants or fast-food places in the area, so how do we drive fans to go to certain places and generate revenue through food, merchandise and shops?

“For the venue operator, the capability to sell advertisement in this place is really attractive at the moment. They will rent space on their displays to external companies or organisations and sell advertisements so it’s a way to generate more revenue.”

Third party integration

Whilst IPTV and digital signage solutions are prevalent across an array of sports – from football and rugby to tennis and golf – Calaber notes that each sport has its nuances.

“One of the strengths of our company is the ability to integrate with third- party solutions. Each sport environment has its own specificity, of course. For example, a football club would have the performance stats and the scores that would be displayed on the screens, so in this case we could integrate with a specific application that would allow us to see the ranking of each team and the performance of the matches, etc.”

One of Exterity’s most recent deployments is the new Inglis Riverside Stables complex near Warwick Farm Racecourse in Sydney, Australia. A world-renowned horse auctions, stable and stud farm, the €89m facility incorporates TV, video and live auction feeds to over 250 displays throughout the hotel, stables, hospitality suites, auction rooms, public areas and paddocks. The investment in IPTV and digital signage is designed to enhance the estate’s immersive visitor experience with live auction feeds and TV, movies on-demand and interactive guest services.

“For another type of sport and user it could be another third party that is used. In the tennis environment for example, the weather is very important so we need to anticipate the weather and be able to create such applications. Plus, the clients are very often using their own applications that we need to integrate. It makes every event a bespoke solution.”

Reliability is another key aspect of the service provision. Blank or malfunctioning screens are worse than no screens at all.

“We need a robust and reliable IT network to support our video content and make sure it comes from Point A to multiple points,” Calaber added.

“I think one of the key points is the robustness, the reliability and the capability to integrate with a client’s own system – either existing systems or their specific application for their own business that they absolutely need to integrate.”

Growth of 4K

With digital technologies becoming increasingly sophisticated, signage solutions can expect to become ever-more advanced in the coming years. Calaber noted that super HD 4K technology represents a growing trend, opening up further opportunities for venues.

“What we’re seeing is the rise of 4K requirements and the capability to display 4K content,” she said. “Of course, our business has anticipated the growth of 4K solutions. At the moment it’s really the trend and those end-users are willing to deploy future-proof solutions and systems. That’s what I see at the moment as being the trend in this environment.

“It’s an ever-changing environment, very specific. Any case, any requirement, any client is a specific one and any time we have the demand we have to design a specific system for the client and we need to listen a lot and make sure we understand their requirements.”

Exterity will be showcasing its venue solutions at this year’s TheStadiumBusiness Summit at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester on June 12-13.