There’s a dirty secret in sports: the number of empty seats is steadily increasing.  Rather than go to live sporting events, fans are compensating (cough) with giant entertainment systems in the comfort of their own home.  In fact—for the first time ever—PwC is projecting that media rights will surpass gate revenue as the industry’s largest segment.  Now more than ever, sporting venues need to go above and beyond to justify the additional cost and hassle of attending an event in person.

In light of these challenges, the Pittsburgh Penguins are upping their game with an unlikely tool: proximity-based beacons within the stadium.

Proximity-based marketing at sports venues is nothing new, but to date it’s functioned largely as a glorified coupon dispenser.  The most common uses have been offering seat upgrades to fans in the nosebleeds, or discounts on those 5000 calorie pretzels calling your name as you walk past concessions.  Those are both perfectly legitimate uses of proximity marketing, and should absolutely continue, but the real power that Pittsburgh is starting to unlock lies in these beacons’ ability to enhance the fan experience.

It all starts when fans enter the stadium and are given a custom welcome message; the first signal that they are about to be a part of something special.  The beacons turn phones into a digital companion for the physical event: helping fans find their seat, providing updated rosters and stats as they happen, and (of course) offering discounts on concessions and merchandise.    There’s even an exclusive interactive experience that launches when fans approach the Mario Lemieux statue.  These enhanced experiences aren’t available anywhere else, and make fans feel like they’re getting an extra something special for attending in person.

Imagine the possibilities if every stadium took an experience-first approach to proximity marketing.  Replays from alternate angles could be given to fans based on where they are in the stadium, long restroom lines could be avoided and seat upgrades (to VIP areas) could be instantly delivered.

The fan experience is just one of the reasons LISNR SmartTones work so well when paired with physical beacons in stadiums and arenas.  We work with a number of professional sports teams that are using LISNR technology to deliver fan experiences in “moments that matter” – like when a goal is scored or a team wins the game.  This is an area where physical beacons can’t deliver.  Additionally, because LISNR SmartTones are audio-based – fans do not have to be connected to wifi – or have an app open on their phone to participate in the experience.

We’re excited to see teams like the Penguins using proximity solutions to enhance the fan experience.  Undoubtedly, more teams are not far behind.

LISNR is the creator of SmartTones, a new technology that sends data over audio. LISNR uses an inaudible digital sound file to turn any device into a beacon. LISNR gives brands and content creators a platform that delivers second-screen experiences and proximity-based messaging. Clients include Budweiser, Roc Nation, Shakira and Sony. For more information, visit

LISNR is a high frequency, inaudible technology; a new communication protocol that sends data over audio. As the leaders of the Internet of Sound, we use inaudible sound waves called SmartTones™, to transmit information.  LISNR essentially transmits customizable packets of data every second that enable proximity data transmission, second-screen functionality, authentication and low-fi device to deviceconnectivity on any LISNR enabled device.  We enable this functionality better and more efficiently than bluetooth (proximity), ACR (2nd Screen), and NFC/RFID (authentication). As an integrated software partner, LISNR can power devices to connect with world around better than ever before.

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