BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Verizon Business today announced the Phoenix Suns are using BlueJeans by Verizon to deliver a “Second Screen” experience that provides a new, safe, and interactive way for fans to watch and engage with their favorite team and brands across the NBA. Part of a larger, long-term strategic relationship with Verizon to drive sports innovation through the use of 5G, technology, and analytics, together, the Phoenix Suns and Verizon are bringing their combined expertise to set a new bar for professional sports.
“There are a lot of things we learned through the last year’s challenges, our fans love the game of basketball and they still love watching. We also learned they miss, and crave, interacting with the Suns in a more intimate way,” said Dan Costello, Phoenix Suns Chief Revenue Officer & SVP, Business Innovation. “Products like BlueJeans allow us to give behind-the-scenes looks, interact with our team personalities, and allow fans to engage with us in a way that feels more intimate than on social media or simply watching a game on television,” continued Costello.
After a months-long hiatus in the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) season due to COVID-19, the Phoenix Suns got back on the court last summer with no fans in the stands. Playing in a “bubble” that the NBA had created at Walt Disney World in Orlando to restart the season meant the team had to quickly find innovative ways to engage its fan base and retain members.
To complement the Suns’ livestream of the game, using BlueJeans Events the Suns provided fans with additional streamed video content they could interact with in real time using polls, chat interactions, “hand raise” and other platform features during games, including interviews with NBA legends and insiders, contests, and promotions for the Suns and its partner brands. These personalized touchpoints only continue to get more creative and frequent today.
“What BlueJeans is doing to help custom-create things for us is wonderful, it’s a tailored experience for our organization, and more importantly, for our fans,” said Costello.
For the Suns, this next wave of sports innovation is all about creating frictionless transitions for fans both in the physical and virtual worlds to develop better relationships with them and bolster loyalty—something that’s already paying off in dividends. Whereas in the past, online interactions with fans were largely passive, BlueJeans Events has allowed the Suns organization to be more proactive, discovering new ways to engage fans by connecting with followers in two-way digital conversations, such as through VIP lessons with the Suns’ personal trainer.
“Our fans, and our brand, thrive in this digital world and the partners we’re aligned with, from an innovation perspective, are coming to us to help meet our fans where they are, which happens to be heavily in these digital spaces,” said Costello. “Our fans are coming to games with digital tickets, using digital payments, and our vision is for them to interact with us digitally throughout the game. For us, this all leads into this innovation territory where we want to be at the center of it with our partners.”
According to the Suns, about 95 percent of its fans have never had the opportunity to watch a game in person. These specialized, virtual experiences over BlueJeans offer a great way to bring these fans closer to the game, fostering team affinity and brand advocates moving forward.
“The ways in which we engage with our favorite brands and companies hit an inflection point this year, with marketers taking note and, hopefully, taking action,” said Krish Ramakrishnan, Chief of Strategy and Product, BlueJeans by Verizon. “As the Phoenix Suns’ preferred video conferencing provider, we look forward to helping them find even more new ways to apply the power of video to scale their communication efforts, open up new revenue streams and drive meaningful relationships with their fans and partners.”
This is just the first of many ways the Phoenix Suns plan to use digital technology to connect with a new generation of sports fans. To learn more about the Suns’ second screen experience live, visit: Suns.com