Next week, Major League Baseball will begin installing thousands of iBeacons in ballparks across the US according a source familiar with plans who spoke to MacRumors.
According to the report, MLB is looking to have 20 parks outfitted with with around 100 iBeacons each by Opening Day at the end of March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco are among the teams that will have iBeacons installed.
The iBeacons will work primarily with MLB’s At The Ballpark app, as was the case with iBeacon implementation at Citi Field previously. The MLB rollout across the country will be the largest implementation of iBeacons in the world to date, apart from Apple’s own retail store effort.
iBeacon functionality will vary by ballpark with each individual team having considerable input and control over the experience:
The main purpose of the iBeacons, according to our source, is to improve the fan experience — not make money. The league is taking a “longer range view” and iBeacon isn’t designed to drive revenue in a direct sense. “Time is more valuable than money”, so MLB wants to make the fan experience “as efficient as possible”. It is looking to eliminate time wasters like waiting in line at the will call window, and it doesn’t want fans wandering the ballpark looking for their seats.
However, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be found. iBeacons allow fans to signal their intent, whether it’s browsing for merchandise, looking for food or something else. It allows ball clubs to be more proactive at fulfilling fan needs and “it’s better for you as a fan”.
iBeacons look like the perfect solution for a venue of this kind. NFC, if the iPhone had it, wouldn’t work due to the proximity required, whereas GPS doesn’t work well indoors. As iBeacon utilizes Bluetooth LE, with a range of up to 50 feet, it seems like it would be much more well suited to a busy ballpark environment and the interactions that would enhance the experience for the fans.
What do you think about the implementation of iBeacons at ballparks? Will it enhance your experience? Would you like to see the technology supported at other sporting events? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter: @TodaysiPhone.