SEC Schools Step Up Fan Engagement for 2014 Football Season|
Each of the 14 institutions in the Southeastern Conference have taken steps to enhance the fan experience going into the 2014 football season in the next stage of a league-wide initiative to address fan engagement, the SEC office announced Wednesday.
"SEC fans are the most passionate and loyal fans in the country," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "Our institutions have made it a priority to engage their fans in a way that will enhance their in-game enjoyment and satisfaction. I salute our schools for being bold in addressing the fan experience and recognizing that increased attention to fans is critical to the continued success of our league."
In June of 2012, the Athletic Directors of the SEC approved the formation of a working group to conduct a thorough review of attendance trends and develop recommendations to enhance the fan experience in the SEC.
The SEC continues to address the fan experience even as attendance thrives in the SEC. Last football season, the SEC averaged 75,674 fans, which was an increase from 74,636 in 2012. Also, the average percentage capacity in 2013 for SEC games was 99.02 percent, compared to 97.40 percent in 2012. Out of 100 games played at SEC venues in 2013, including the SEC Championship Game, 57 were filled to 100 percent capacity or more.
"Even as attendance at SEC events is as robust as ever, we would be remiss not to reward our fans with a great experience at each and every event," said Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, chair of the SEC Fan Experience Working Group. "The fan experience goes beyond winning and losing games. It starts from the time they approach the stadium to the moment they leave campus."
The SEC has initiated rule changes that allow fans to see in-stadium replays of officials' reviews and increase in-game opportunities for musical entertainment, and in 2014 ESPN is partnering with the SEC to provide video highlights to schools to utilize on stadium video boards for in-game highlights and updates for fans.
Throughout the 2013-14 athletic year, the SEC conducted league-wide fan research studies in football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball. The studies included quantitative research conducted by "Now What Research" and qualitative analysis to provide an in-depth profile of SEC fans across all 14 institutions.
"We will continue to conduct fan research for the next several years in order to communicate better with our fans and to provide our institutions with the data they need to monitor fan expectations and satisfaction," said Slive. "Our schools have already begun to react to our studies by investing in areas that research shows are most important to our fans."
Specifically at South Carolina, the following have been implemented for the 2014 season:
1. Halftimes themed for Fan enjoyment
2. Additions to pre-game Kid's zone area
3. In game live look in's at other games and also ESPN updates of other games
4. Improvement of Stats on video board to give fan more of the "TV info and stats" they receive at home
5. Increased use of video board to offer videos or info that fans at home cannot receive
6. Implemented new in game policy to limit the number of on field promotions and presentations to allow more time for fan entertaining elements
7. 4th Quarter incentives for students to stay in the stadium
8. New Gameday companion app that provides times, events, and need-to-know information including stadium and parking maps, real-time social media feeds, scores, stats, upgrade opportunities exclusive for season ticket holders, and more with opt-in alerts