Devils, 76ers seek to up fan experience with new partnerships

NHL ice hockey team the New Jersey Devils and its Prudential Center arena have stepped up their engagement with the sports betting market by agreeing a multi-year deal with Australian-owned online betting entertainment and technology group, PlayUp, while sister NBA basketball franchise the Philadelphia 76ers has teamed up with Verizon.

Under the Devils deal, PlayUp will hold a permanent in-arena activation location called the PlayUp Sports Lounge, as well as a TV-visible dasherboard, corner in-ice logo, and virtual signage within Prudential Center.    

PlayUp will become the presenting partner of the Devils newly redesigned PlayUp Studio, the team’s Season Preview Show, as well as the Pre-Game Live Show prior to all home games. The Devils become PlayUp’s first US professional sports team partner after the company secured a New Jersey betting license on January 12.

The Devils have strong ties to the sports betting industry. In September 2019, Unibet agreed a sponsorship deal with the franchise. In the previous year, Caesars Entertainment entered into a multi-year partnership with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), which operates the Devils, Prudential Center and the 76ers.

Under the agreement, Caesars Entertainment’s new sportsbook experience was launched inside the exclusive Caesars Club at Prudential Center. That deal came after HBSE had previously partnered with sportsbook operator William Hill to open a branded sports lounge space at Prudential Center. Sports betting was legalised in New Jersey in June 2018.

Commenting on the new deal, Adam Cross, senior vice-president of corporate partnerships sales at HBSE, said: “PlayUp is a partner that shares our commitment to providing top-notch and progressive digital experiences for each and every fan.

“Following an off-season that saw record digital and social engagement by Devils fans, we were thrilled to find a partner who’s marketing efforts were driven by engagement that amplified the fan experience. We look forward to continuing our league-leading digital consumption by bringing innovative and high-quality hockey-centric sports betting content to fans this season.”

The PlayUp partnership was announced as the Devils opened their new season with a 3-2 defeat to the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center yesterday (Thursday). With no fans in attendance due to COVID-19, the team also launched a new second-screen experience for all 2020-21 home games. The experience will feature more than three hours of live content and original programming, notable sports betting lines and insights, live performances and interviews, interactive games, and more.

Jillian Frechette, senior vice-president of marketing for the Devils, said: “We sought to answer the question of augmenting the animation, energy, and thunderous volume of Prudential Center’s 30-million-pixel scoreboard, the largest in-arena scoreboard in the world. The Devils second screen experience will transport fans at home back into Prudential Center alongside all of the nail-biting action on MSG Networks.”

Meanwhile, telecommunications company Verizon has further bolstered its presence in the major leagues by becoming an official team partner of the 76ers under a multi-year deal. With the NBA season now well underway, the partnership designates Verizon as the exclusive mobile 5G partner for the team and presenting partner of the 76ers Official Mobile Application.

The deal also provides members of Verizon’s loyalty program, Verizon Up, with unique opportunities to claim 76ers prizes and VIP experiences. When fans return to Wells Fargo Center, members will be seated in a special Verizon-branded VIP section and receive a premium fan experience. These future experiences may include pre-game courtside access, Patriot Partner Lounge passes or access to the 76ers High-Five Tunnel.

“We are excited to partner with Verizon, a leader in technology, to deliver new fan experiences in the 76ers team app as well as 5G capabilities,” said Katie O’Reilly, 76ers chief revenue officer. “As the official presenting partner of the app and an exclusive mobile partner, Verizon will usher us into a new era of innovation by using their technology to help us connect and engage with our fans.”

Verizon this week announced a commitment to providing its 5G Ultra Wideband service in 28 NFL stadiums by the end of 2021 as it expands its coverage across the American football league.

Staying in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday rolled out a new digital experience in an effort to grant fans a backstage pass inside Moda Center from the safety of home.

The brand-new Blazers Home Court presented by Toyota will be available from one hour before tipoff of every home game, offering fans access to exclusive in-arena content and experiences.

Image: New Jersey Devils