Magic's Mobile App Advancements Enhance Fan Experience

by Dan Savage

ORLANDO -- There was a time not too long ago that the only basketball benefit your phone could offer was the ability to dial a ticket hotline or call your local cable provider to subscribe to your favorite team’s broadcast.

Fast-forward to present day and mobile devices have become indispensable tools for organizations to improve their fans’ in-arena and at-home experience in every aspect imaginable.

At the forefront of sports teams leading the way in enhancing the digital experience of their fans are the Orlando Magic. Over the past year, the team has redesigned the franchise’s mobile app in partnership with Yinzcam, the world’s premier professional sports app vendor, to convert it into a personalized remote control that allows fans to enrich their experience both inside and outside the walls of the Amway Center.

Inside the building, the Magic app has consistently offered numerous best-in-class features including mobile ticketing, contactless payments, and contactless merchandise shopping with dedicated in-store pickup.

“The Magic take advantage of everything that we offer, and they do everything they can to push the experience forward with their fans, with their season ticket holders,” said VenueNext CEO Anthony Perez, whose company offers point-of-sale solutions to the team’s mobile app. “I think that’s the biggest differentiator and is why even ten years later the Amway Center is still one of the most forward-thinking venues when it comes to technology and the digital experience.”

Although many of the in-venue components existed prior to the onset of COVID-19, they've allowed the franchise to safely navigate fans returning to the building through features such us contactless food delivery and pickup and safety protocol notifications.

“We’ve been equipped for a number of seasons to be contactless,” Magic Assistant Director of Strategy & Analytics Ali Anderson said. “We moved to digital tickets and the Magic app has a mobile wallet which allows you to pay with a QR code. You can utilize Magic money or upload a credit card and that’s technology we’ve had successfully in place for a number of seasons, which allows us to move into this return, hopefully, more safely. It will allow you to avoid lines and not have to handle cards and cash.”

While the redesign of the team’s mobile app was focused on enhancing the at-home experience for fans prior to the pandemic, those features also gained added value during the NBA restart. With NBA action taking place in a fan-free environment from a campus in Walt Disney World, supplementing the in-arena environment and generating new connections to the team became a top priority.

“We were one of the leaders in sports in creating an app that focused on in-arena utility, but this change was about achieving the best of both worlds,” Senior Vice President of Strategy & Innovation Jay Riola said. “Where we can continue to offer fans the utility and customized experience where they can digitally manage their tickets, their food and beverage experience, buy unique experiences and do all that in the app, but now what’s also available to them is this great content experience.”

From the comforts of home, the team’s mobile app grants instant access to highlights, interviews, stories, podcasts and any Magic-related content a fan could imagine. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Magic created a fan zone section of the app that offers interactive games, augmented reality (AR) face filters, kids activities, exclusive retail and merchandise as well as shortcuts to the team’s social channels.

On game days, the app transformed into the ultimate second-screen experience to watch alongside the FOX Sports Florida television broadcast, with trivia contests, predictive games, real-time stats and highlights in an interactive experience called Magicvision Mobile.

The trivia and predictive games assisted in generating over 2,000 new downloads during the restart and helped the Magic become NBA leaders in time spent in the app and push notification engagement. The Magicvision Mobile contests granted fans the opportunity to win signed items, team apparel, and partner items such as Disney tickets.

“I'm not one for superlatives, but the Magicvision Mobile game was hands down one of the best, probably the best, predictive gaming experiences I've seen,” said Jud Lewis-Mahon, Executive Producer at Sparx, the real-time audience engagement platform used to produce Magicvision Mobile. “The balance of game play, trivia, notifications, leaderboards, etc. was great.”

In addition to supplementing experiences for fans, the app also allowed the organization to highlight partner promotions that under normal circumstances would be activated in-arena.

The team generated hundreds of thousands of impressions for their partners during the restart with in-app activations such as the MTN Dew Shootout and a chance for fans to win virtual seats courtesy of Florida Blue.

The organization spent much of the offseason sifting through the data and knowledge gained during the restart to continue to enhance not only partner promotions, but the app experience as a whole. They’ll look to add additional features such as a partners hub that will highlight all the game day promotions, such as 50 percent off Papa John’s when the Magic win, and incorporating game day items such as the playbill into the platform.

Over the long-term, the goal is to offer a unique mobile app experience to each individual fan based on the content they digest, their location, and promotions they engage with.

“The data is about understanding the behavior so that we’re going to give people (what they want to see) without hunting and pecking their way through the app,” said Yinzcam founder and CEO Priya Narasimhan. “It’s just there. They shouldn’t have to work for it. The content should be presented to them in a way that they don’t have to work for it.”

The Magic are well equipped to analyze that data and with the Yinzcam platform build the app of the future. Through the Magic’s use of Snowflake, a data warehousing company, and the team’s longstanding partnership with SAS, an analytics and data management software company, the Magic are able to comb through user-behavior data and create customizable experiences for fans.

“Our goal will be to use that information to improve your app experience in the future,” Riola added. “So, if we know you’re a season ticket holder, who has a favorite player, a favorite piece of content, or a podcast that you subscribe to, we can use that information to personalize your experience.”

Ultimately, the mobile experience is Magic in your hands.

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