Fake fans

Wall Street Journal has a story about an Italian soccer team using printed sheets of vinyl to fill up their stadium. Since fans weren’t showing up to their games, management decided to employ fake fans.

The club itself makes a majority of its revenue from television contracts, which makes one wonder if ‘real’ fans are even needed.

A few things come out from this story.

First is the actual images on the vinyl and how the fans are depicted. The image really reflects how owners and management see their fans or at least what behaviour they expect from their fans. Every ‘fan’ is out of their seats and doing something. Not very authentic, but makes the team look good on TV.

Second, this brings to light what fan behaviour is at the physical stadium, with thousands of other fans, versus what fan behaviour is like at home, alone. What exactly do fans like about being at the actual game? What do they hate? Could attending an actual game be a thing of the past?

This also ties back to my posting about goal horns and how they’re and example of inauthentic fan expression.

Image from Wall Street Journal.

How social media destroyed the NHL All Star Game.

The NHL is in the midst of reviewing the state of the game. Managers have lots to discuss but the two topics that are interesting are the All Star Game festivities and the leagues development of a social media policy. TSN’s Darren Dreger is covering it here.

Over the course of a weekend, the All Star Game, including the skills competition, is a great way to promote the game and showcase the best talent in the league. But the whole event has gone stale. The game itself is pretty meaningless as the players don’t really compete during the game to avoid injury. The games format (East vs West, North America vs The World) has changed in the past but really there is no significance to it. Fans do get to vote on the starting lineup, but besides that, there isn’t a way for fans (or potential fans) to get involved

Social media and evolving technologies has really changed the attitude towards the NHL’s showcase event. Hockey fans have found other ways to interact with the game and learn more about it.

In the past, seeing a player that plays for a different team was rare. So when they did show up, it was a big deal. But now, every game is available anytime, anywhere. Both TV and mobile technology ensures fans don’t miss a second of marquee games. It’s not as big of a deal now when these superstars come into town.

Game highlights and stats are readily available on the web soon after, which can be shared, analyzed and commented on. Fans can then head to message boards and blogs to interact with others. All this promotes the game and keeps people engaged.

Fantasy league hockey lets fans create their own list of all stars to compete with friends and other poolies. Prizes and bragging right at the end make it even more interesting. This generates a lot more interest in less important games.

Video game such as the EA Sports NHL series gives fans the opportunity to experience players and see the matchups they envision. Gaming is a great way to get involved and learn more about hockey. Why watch a meaningless game when you can experience the game with the all stars.

Fans don’t just consume the information and entertainment. Instead they take it and do something else with it. This is something the all star game does not allow. Fans in the mean time, have found other ways to learn about the game and get more from it.

Lets hope the NHL gets a social media policy in place so some of the more interesting characters of the league can get more exposure and give fans what they really want.