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Mobile food ordering, payment put bounce into FIBA World Cup broadcast

Mobile basketball fans watching TV broadcasts of FIBA World Cup games on a big arena screen in Vilnius, Lithuania, will have the added convenience of being able to order and pay for food from their seats.

Spectators watching the Lithuanian team’s games on a 656-square-foot screen in Siemens Arena will be able to get snacks and drinks by scanning a QR code from a menu, paying with a smartphone application, picking up the order nearby and returning to their seats without missing much action. It is an example of how using mobile to enhance the in-event experience can drive engagement with sports fans.

“Mobile interactivity works on a few levels during a sporting event,” said Mikhail Damiani, CEO and co-founder of Blue Bite, a New York mobile marketing concern which has a partnership with the Access Sports Media video-advertising network.

“Anytime you create convenience for people, allowing them to enjoy more of the game without having to leave their seats, you will get an uptick in participation.”

Quick pickup
The Spain-hosted FIBA World Cup, which is this year’s premier basketball event, starts Aug. 30.

All of Lithuania’s matches in the two-week tournament will be viewable in Siemens Arena. The venue, located in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, had 8,000 spectators on hand last year for the Eurobasket gold medal game against France.

As soon as a fan in the arena completes and pays for his food or drink order using the Paysera app, his phone will receive an alert saying the order is ready for pickup. The system will choose the pick-up point closest to the customer’s seat.

“Even though QR was used as the on-ramp technology at FIBA, I would say it would make sense to augment that with NFC as well for purposes of simplicity and effectiveness of the interaction,” Mr. Damiani said.

As stadiums increase connectivity to permit more use of mobile devices at events, the capability for exploring arena applications such as food and beverage ordering has increased.

TD Garden, home of the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins, has explored ways to include features such as ordering in-arena food into an app.

The Barclays Center, home of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets, has in-seat ordering capability in the upper concourse. Its mobile infrastructure enables the sending of a message that suggests fans check out the Barclay Center app for in-seat food ordering options.

“Anytime you have a group of people who are gathered for a specific purpose and have similar interests, in this case basketball, you will see a greater propensity for participation,” Blue Bite’s Mr. Damiani said.

“Additionally, sports invoke emotions as large groups of people cheer on their favorite teams or players,” he said. “If you can somehow tap into that emotion with mobile interactivity, you create an environment where people will participate at a higher than average rate.”

Payment services
Paysera, whose system powers the Siemens Arena app, offers a wide range of payment services including international transfers at local rates and Internet and mobile-based payments. It has about 150,000 users. Since the system was launched two years ago, 70 banks have signed on as partners.

“A system that allows people to order food from their seats with their smartphone would work in U.S. sports venues,” Mr. Damiani said. “Not only for basketball, but for other sports like baseball, hockey and football as well.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.