Australians like their sports. We like to listen to them on the radio, watch them on television and we like to see the game in person. Many of us are ardent fans who want to learn all there is to know about our teams.
Twenty-five years ago, sports supporters found much of their information in printed club newsletters and magazines. Filled with facts about upcoming events, major fixtures, player profiles, sponsorships and junior codes, such publications fed the supporters’ hunger for background information but they lacked immediacy, making them a poor source of news. To find out the team line-up for next weekend or to learn the latest about a player injury, fans had to rely on the sports section of their daily newspaper.
All this changed in the 1990s and 2000s as websites made it possible for sports organisations to communicate more directly with members and supporters. Suddenly members began to look to their clubs rather than newspapers for authoritative, up-to-date news. Websites also offered a convenient way to reach out to members and deliver services such as membership administration and merchandising.
Today the nature of the team-supporter relationship is changing yet again. Sports organisations and clubs are becoming even closer to their supporters with the introduction of mobile information services. As the HSBC Waratahs rugby team has discovered, mobility is enabling the team website to become an integral part of match travel arrangements, the pre-game conversation, and even in-game reporting.
The digital strategy
In early 2011, Kym Aust-Howlett, Waratahs Rugby General Manager Commercial, met with technology and consulting services company, EcoView Global, to discuss delivering HSBC Waratahs website content to mobile devices such as smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The move was part of a comprehensive digital strategy based on a three-year program of research into supporter behaviour and website information needs.
“We have done a lot of work in the digital space and spent a lot of time creating the right content,” said Aust-Howlett. “We turned to mobile information as a way of engaging the supporter base more by giving them better access to information such as player profiles or information about how to get to the game."
“These days people are largely time poor and we recognised that mobile services offer a way of taking the information to our supporters so that they don’t have to go looking for it.”
Simble introduced Waratahs Rugby to BlinkMobile, a mobile service delivery software platform that could draw data directly from the team’s website and re-purpose it ‘on-the-run’ for delivery to all mobile devices. It was an elegant alternative to creating and maintaining new web pages or re-writing material specifically for mobile delivery.