Connected stadiums mean the end of the big screen

With the integrated world of digital and sport, there have been two mediums within sport that have never even been slightly related – the smartphone and the stadium’s big screen. Platforms used for vastly different purposes in vastly different ways and at vastly different times.

However, with the launch of Lyon’s new stadium back in January and clubs and stadiums looking to boost fan engagement through the use of digital products, these two platforms are on a collision course – and whether it’s six months or ten years down the track, there’s only going to be one winner.

Billed as the most connected stadium in the world, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, home of Lyon’s Ligue 1 football club and host to a number of games during the Euros which kick off in June, will see the normal stadium redefined to include complete digital integration. And instead of looking to the giant screen for the live replays, scores and other match data normally shown on the screens, fans won’t have to look further than their smartphone.

As futuristic as that sounds, Lyon’s new stadium, in conjunction with Vogo Sport’s app designed specifically for the stadium, is making that a reality.


Thanks to 370 IPTV-connected screens and 600 terminals dispersed around the stadium ranging from the roof to the lawn to under seats, over 20,000 fans can simultaneously connect to the stadium Wifi via the ‘Parc OL’ app with the potential to smoothly stream content whilst the game is in motion – and all at no extra cost to the attendee.

In undergoing tests since the ‘Parc OL’ opened in January, the connectivity of the stadium has passed with some rather impressive results. Already recording 8300 simultaneous connections, it allows functions like being able to reserve a ticket (that turns into a digital ticket on the smartphone once reserved which can be scanned at the entrance), reserve a parking space, enable the fan to order food, drink and club merchandise (which has seen an estimated 30% increase in sales), access up-to-date match statistics and even stream replays and watch replays from different camera angles.

Incredibly, that’s not even the most impressive part of the new system with match attendees being able to interact effortlessly with each other through the app. During one of the recent matches at the stadium where Lyon played PSG, at half time fans were able to discuss Thiago Motta’s deserved punishment with other fans in the stadium through the forum function on the app.

Not only is the connected system and app replacing the need for the stadium’s big screen but it’s facilitating interaction between fans in the stadium, something that without actually going to talk to another fan is virtually unheard of.


The stadium has used a cautious approach to rolling out this system and subsequently, it hasn’t been completely unveiled. However, all stakeholders involved are very optimistic that this new type of stadium could not only just house fans but actually interact with them. The Professional Football League has already approved the new system, however, were coy about it completely actually replacing the big screen

“If you put forward stages connected, you can not stop this kind of innovation, especially as opposed to big screens, there is no risk of crowd movements since the entire public does not connect simultaneously.”

Gordon Campbell co-CEO of Stadia Solutions, the company behind the connectivity solutions at Celtic Stadium (CelticLIVE) as well as StadiumLIVE said that there were a number of challenges to implementing systems like this in existing stadiums in the UK but that the technology was “ready and available”.

“There are many challenges – firstly there is no standard ‘template’.  Every stadium has unique architecture – connectivity was never part of the design process and that architecture can make finding suitable locations for antennas and access points very challenging”, he said.

“The technology dictates only part of the success of a connected venue – there are more disaster stories than success.  Designing, configuring, commissioning and tuning the solution correctly is paramount and there are no shortcuts.”

He also said that streaming vision to consumers’ phones can cause trouble with rights holders, an issue that Vogo Sport have already had to deal with since the launch of the stadium.

“The complexities of broadcast rights and League rules on what can be shown does complicate matters. It’s also relevant to consider what content the fans want and what will really engage them.”

It remains a little too soon to see whether these connected stadiums will see the end of the big screen in the UK, particularly with the possible problems of adding “digital skins” to some elite-football stadiums around the country which are quite old. But the solution and the results are there and technology will stand still for no-one.

About author

Matt Tewhatu
Matt Tewhatu 155 posts

Matt is the editor of Digital Sport and Chief of Snack Media's rugby division and has a journalistic background both here in UK, Australia and in his native New Zealand. Follow him on Twitter @mtewhatu

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