- The Detroit Lions added food and beverage ordering to the football team's mobile app for fans seated in the new Grid Iron Club at Ford Field, according to a press release. YinzCam, a mobile app and software developer based in Pittsburgh, soft-launched the service for the Lions' final two games of the 2017 season.
- The 3,000 fans seated in the club area on the north end of the stadium were given exclusive access to order from mobile menus for the four Detroit-themed restaurants, El Asador, Slows Bar-B-Q, Flowers of Vietnam and Bigalora Cucina. The venues were added during the most recent offseason as part of a $100 million stadium renovation.
- Fans received a notification to pick up their orders within 10 minutes on the second level of the club. The iOS version of the app includes Apple's Indoor Positioning feature that shows fans their specific location within the stadium and directs their path to the selected restaurant location.
The Detroit Lions are among the teams that are including mobile platforms into the experience of attending live games to appeal to a younger group of loyal, tech-savvy fans. The team's average home attendance was 63,882 during the regular season, better than the 60,792 from the prior year. That increase could indicate that the stadium's $100 million renovation has somewhat helped to draw more fans, as the team's win-loss record was the same for both seasons at 9-7.
Though the team added food ordering late in the year, the Lions were mostly testing the expanded mobile functionality with a goal of growing the service to other seating areas during the 2018 season. That expansion will include the club on the south side of the stadium, which has eight more restaurants, hinting at the potential for the app to extend to those restaurants as well. The team also wants to introduce mobile ticketing and a mobile loyalty program through its official app this year, per the release.
Todd Marcy, the Lions' director of digital operations, said the updates to the app are the result of adding Wi-Fi to the stadium last year. The app is more functional inside the stadium instead of being a mere extension of the team's website, he said.
While game attendance overall appears strong, TV ratings for the NFL are down 10% this season compared to the prior season, according to Nielsen data cited by the Los Angeles Times. That follows an 8% drop a year earlier, compounding the massive decline in viewership. The decrease means that NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN must make good on commercials to NFL advertisers in order to compensate for the audience shortfall. In an attempt to deepen engagement with loyal football fans both at games and at home, NFL teams and the organization as a whole have enlisted mobile tech in fresh ways by deploying new features via AR, Snapchat, original programming on social media and real-time, in-stadium engagement in recent months.