August 04, 2016

Tech Talk: Sports ‘Catch’ Pokémon Go Fever

Tech Talk: Sports ‘Catches’ Pokémon Go Fever

9691-Pokemon-Go-Blog-ImageIn the past month, it’s been virtually impossible to avoid the buzz surrounding Pokémon Go, the newest craze sweeping the mobile world. Available for both iOS and Android devices, Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based, augmented reality game developed by Niantic. In the game, players use a smart devices’ GPS and camera to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, or Pokémon, who appear on the screen of a personal device as though they’re in the same real-world location as the user playing the game.

With an estimated 75 million downloads since its release a month ago, Pokémon Go is already one of the most popular apps to be released to date, and headlines featuring the new game range from amusing, to fascinating, to even dangerous. It seems everyone is getting involved in (or disrupted by) Pokémon Go in one way or another, including the sports and stadium community.  Let’s take a look!

Application Implications and Impact

From a technology perspective, if a sports team offers free guest Wi-Fi for their fans in-venue, it’s important to understand the potential impact Pokémon Go has on a network.

From a study conducted by a California-based networking company, the app itself consumes less bandwidth in comparison to other apps like Spotify, Facebook, or Snapchat.

That said, while bandwidth is important to measure network impact, the number of ‘sessions’ an app generates is also important. A session is basically a connection that is created between the app and Niantic’s servers. Since Pokémon Go is such a chatty app, with multiple in-game sessions being generated from more and more users, it can certainly be disruptive to the functionality of a network (security, analytics, etc). Not to mention, should app developers decide to introduce advertisers and sponsors into the gameplay for monetization purposes, this would only increase the noise from Pokémon Go and the potential impact on in-venue networks.

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Pictured Above: Fans are finding Pokémon everywhere, even while attending games in sports venues.

Team and Venue Reactions

With Pokémon Go making such a massive splash, it isn’t surprising that professional and collegiate sports teams are getting in on the action, and some of the results have been remarkable.

Let’s take a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars, an NFL football team who opened up their home stadium, EverBank Field, for a two hour Pokémon-catching event. The Jaguars originally set a target goal of 10,000 participants for the event; this goal was easily surpassed, with over 15,000 ‘Pokémon Trainers’ in attendance. With such a positive outcome, there’s already talk of replicating a similar event in the future. Other professional and collegiate sports are hosting similar Pokémon Go events, with both University of Nebraska and University of Kentucky opening up the doors of their respective football stadiums for ‘catching sessions.’

On the digital and social marketing side of the house, sports organizations are targeting Pokémon Go users to drive team promotions or campaigns, or even as the focal point in some cases. For example, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks offered a 20% discount for The Hanger, the team’s central merchandise shop near their arena, for all Pokémon Go users on location during a defined window of time.

When sports organizations are creative and nimble, and leverage existing trends in technology to enhance their brand or drive a campaign, it’s surely a win for everyone. But what are some of the core components to execute on these programs?

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Left: Kentucky’s Pokémon Go event at Commonwealth Stadium Right: Dallas Mavericks’ Pokémon Go team promo

Network Considerations

From a sheer technology perspective, the exponential rise of Pokémon Go and its potential invasive impact on a network underscores the importance of a team’s ability to support (or limit) the app’s usage, specifically for public Wi-Fi networks in-venue.

This obviously starts with the critical infrastructure to support application usage itself: without a robust and secure network deployed in-venue fans won’t even have the ability to connect and enjoy a game like Pokémon Go – especially in a high-density environment like a stadium or an arena.

It doesn’t stop with connectivity; visibility and control are equally important. Without granular visibility and an understanding of how an application is being used (number of users playing the game, length of time playing, application response time etc.) sports teams are unable to measure how the app is impacting the overall network experience, and then provision the network to support overarching team goals or programs.

In response to the Pokémon Go phenomenon, Extreme Networks has developed and introduced a customized application fingerprint to identify the impact that Pokémon Go has on the network. Leveraging its existing application analytics (ExtremeAnalytics) platform, the tool equips IT teams with visibility into Pokémon Go usage on the network as well as the ability to customize bandwidth allocation to support or limit this usage.  And for those teams that do not want to encourage Pokémon Go’s usage on their network, the customized application fingerprint enables organizations to say “Pokémon NO” rather than “Pokémon GO.”

 

Whether you your goal is to embrace or escape, similar to a marketing team’s ability to be creative and flexible as they adapt campaigns and promotions to new trends in technology, it’s critical that network teams do the same.

So, what will the future hold for Pokémon Go? At this juncture in time it’s anyone’s guess, but it’s unquestionably been a captivating ride so far and is certainly not over. As downloads of the game continue to rise, we’ll certainly see more sports teams getting involved in innovative and creative ways. Should be fun to watch it all unfold!

To learn more, check out our recent blog Pokémon Go + Network Monitoring & Control = Enhanced Education.

 

About The Contributor:
Ryan HallSenior Marketing Specialist

Ryan T. Hall is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Extreme Networks, supporting the Sports & Entertainment business unit from a marketing and business development perspective. He also manages solution marketing for hospitality, and has been with Extreme Networks since August 2012, beginning in an entry-level inside sales role. He earned his undergraduate degree in English Literature as well as his master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of New Hampshire.

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