A Danish pro football club has started using direct view LED displays mounted in the stands of its home grounds to allow hardcore fans to be virtually attend matches.
AGF Aarhus put in rental LED boards near ground level and used the web conferencing platform Zoom to show the tiled screens of fans – live in front of their home webcams – watching the game and cheering the squad on.
It is thought to be the world’s first “virtual football grandstand” and is a serious step up from the clever but very analog efforts to populate stands with everything from mannequins (there was even a Korean team that used blow-up sex dolls) to printed life-size cutouts of the upper body and faces of season-ticket holders, fixed in seats.
Aarhus fans were allowed to apply for free game “tickets” and then pick a section to virtually sit in the stands around the stadium.
Very clever. Not cheap to do, but there will be lots of live events companies who have LED boards gathering dust because of the pandemic, so this is a way to put them to use. Guessing the club got a deal.
For the biggest sports teams, getting fans back when stadiums are allowed to fill once again will not be a problem. But there are lots of pro sports teams that have to work hard every week to engage with and draw fans to their venues, and if they can’t do that for safety reasons, maybe this is an interesting, big-buzz option?
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.