In Tennessee, Minor League Baseball Meets the Physical Web

Fans of the Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball team used their phones to access player statistics, read baseball trivia and find the nearest peanuts and Cracker Jack… or beer.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

The SDK is built on, Bkon's end-to-end Physical Web platform, and can be deployed on any Eddystone-URL-formatted beacon. Using the SDK, Bkon's clients can assign beacons a public URL for consumers who use Physical Web browsers such as Chrome. Any user can access that URL from a compatible browser on his iOS or Android phone, as long as he is within range of the Physical Web beacon transmitting the public URL. But for app users, each beacon transmits a private URL that is only accessible via the app. Bkon enables the company or brand that commissioned the app to manage these private URLs through the platform via a dashboard, schedule or application programming interface (API).

The Sounds already had a smartphone app, called Inside The Park, and Graves says Bkon could have used its SDK to make that existing app compatible with the Physical Web and Bkon's beacon-management platform. But developing the Gameday app was far simpler and faster, he explains, so before the PoC began, the Sounds removed its Inside The Park app from the iTunes and Google Play stores, in order to help fans avoid any confusion when looking to download the team app. (The team may make its Inside The Park app available again in the future, depending on how it decides to move forward with Bkon's technology.)

During the PoC, what a fan saw displayed on her phone depended on whether she was using the Gameday app or a browser. Those using the app would see a rotating series of digital cards with player images and statistics—including those of the player at bat, as well as the current pitcher. Clicking on player cards would link the user, whether he was accessing it through Gameday or a browser or Nearby, to that player's full profile on the MLB website.

Fans using the app also saw a card that let them select food and drink—such as nachos or a beer—from a list of items, and then click to a map showing the location of the nearest vendors selling those items.

In addition, the Sounds utilized the beacons to collect fan data, by offering both Gameday app users, as well as those who checked Nearby or a browser for updates, a chance to win free food or drink if they texted, emailed or tweeted a message to the team.

For both Gameday users and those checking Nearby or a browser, some of the content they saw depended on which of the 28 Bkon beacons was nearest to their seat. The Sounds tested out the use of special offers to fans based on proximity to beacons mounted closest to a vendor's location within the stadium.

During the PoC, roughly 77 percent of the interactions come through the Sounds Gameday app running on iOS devices (the app is currently available only for iOS), while the rest were browser-based interactions, mostly on Android devices. Graves declines to reveal exactly how many of the 26,196 attendees during the PoC downloaded the Gameday app, but said that throughout the four-game trail, the number of Gameday downloads matched the number of times the Inside The Park app had been downloaded during the course of the prior 36 games.

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