Case study: Derby County and pitch-side technology

Since Championship club Derby County was relegated from the Premier League, average home attendance dropped from 32,000 in 2007-08 to 26,000 last season. So last summer, the club invested in an extensive technology upgrade at its Pride Park stadium as a way of both attracting sponsors and drawing in fans.

Derby County installed a 77 sq m jumbo screen in its stadium to attract fans and sponsors

Working with sports marketing agency Sports Revolution, the club installed an LED screen perimeter for its pitch-side advertising as well as a 77 sq m screen inside the ground and two large screens outside.

Ashley Peden, commercial manager at Derby, says this technology has expanded the club’s offer to potential advertisers, with the external screens providing exposure to passing traffic and fans outside the ground and the LED system giving greater flexibility to the stadium’s previous pitch-side system of rotating boards.

The club has used this flexibility to sell different stages of the match to sponsors. For example, when player substitutions are made the LED perimeter changes to reveal the name of the ‘substitution sponsor’ (a local Toyota dealership), synchronising with the public address announcement and the display on the big screen.

“The system gives sponsors that moment of exclusivity,” says Peden.

“We can do it for other things like the team line-ups or the attendance announcement and have different sponsors for each.”

Derby is also using the technology to engage with supporters on match days, such as by opening the stadium early for fans to watch televised lunchtime games or exclusive club content on the big screen. The screen acts as a ‘fan cam’ system, where cameras select fans in the ground for different engagement segments and promotions before the game and at half-time.

The club is also trialling a new demand-based pricing system for match tickets to attract fans back – rather than charging a flat rate, the club can alter the price of tickets based on the stature of each match and the demand from supporters.

“It means we can be more variable with our pricing strategy,” says marketing manager Faye Nixon. “We know which games are going to have higher demand and less demand so we’re able to offer lower-based ticket prices that suit people who want to come in at entry level.”

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