Fans' favorite live sports requirement? Bandwidth

Story highlights

  • Technology is playing a greater role at live sports events
  • Whether it's photos or posting updates, fans watch themselves -- along with the game

(CNN)Sports fans expect a lot when they attend a game. Entertainment. Good times. A win.

But according to a survey by StubHub, in this era, there's one key desire that can't be overlooked: bandwidth.
The ticket seller's 2014-15 study of consumer insights (PDF), shared with CNN, shows that smartphones and social media have become increasingly important in this Internet-encrusted age. It's not enough to attend the game; you have to show everyone you're there, too, preferably with a selfie or Facebook tag.
    Technology is "really changing the way fans are attending live events, whether it be sports, concerts or otherwise," StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp said.
    For example, Super Bowl data usage has more than tripled since 2011. At the 2011 Super Bowl, fans used 177 GB of data. Three years later, that number had shot up to 624 GB.
    Moreover, the number of social posts uploaded from the event jumped from 500,000 to 1.8 million.
    "It seems like you can't attend a sports event without taking a picture now," Papp said.
    Here are some other takeaways from StubHub's research:
    The most popular North American pro sports team by Twitter followers is from the NBA.
    That would be the Los Angeles Lakers, which has about 4.5 million followers.
    The leading squads from the other three major pro sports leagues -- the New York Yankees (MLB), the New England Patriots (NFL) and the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) -- have between 1.1 and 1.7 million followers.
    "The NFL dominates American conversations," Papp said. "But the NBA is much more of a global brand, and the Lakers are a global brand."
    Pro baseball teams dominate the list of top sellers overall -- but for individual games, college teams have some power.
    That's partly because there are 81 home games for each MLB team, says Papp, so teams such as the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have more events to sell. (StubHub did not reveal prices.)
    Intriguingly, however, the single-game leader is the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team. That's a case of a high-performing team and the laws of supply and demand, says Papp, since capacity at tiny Cameron Indoor Stadium is fewer than 10,000 seats.
    "When you think about the hardest ticket to get and the hottest ticket, it makes sense," he said.
    Other college teams on the per-event list include the Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Alabama football teams, popular squads all.
    The musical tastes of sports leagues' fans don't necessarily fit the leagues' popular images.
    StubHub asked, "If you bought a specific (pro team's) ticket at StubHub in the past 5 years, what other concert purchase have you made this year?"
    Though the answers were necessarily skewed by who was touring in the past couple years, there were still a few surprises.
    Sure, some relationships fit expectations. The NFL skewed more country than the other pro leagues, with top draws including Luke Bryan and Garth Brooks. New Yorker Billy Joel was the top selection for fans of the Jets, Devils, Islanders, Knicks and Mets. Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers rooters both had the Bay Area's Grateful Dead at the top of their lists.
    But NHL fans weren't all hard rockers -- Ottawa Senators fans picked One Direction -- and MLB fans, perhaps tabbed as old, included matchups with Ariana Grande (Milwaukee Brewers) and the ubiquitous Taylor Swift (Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays).
    More bandwidth? Or less?
    Smartphones and other portable devices aren't going away. Will venues accommodate them or stick with the idea that the game's the thing?
    Papp isn't sure.
    "I don't think stadiums have really caught up to this yet," he said.
    Certainly, newer facilities are focusing on multimedia fan experiences. Levi's Stadium, where the 2016 Super Bowl will be held, was called "the most high-tech sports venue yet" in a 2014 Time article -- which only makes sense, since it's in the heart of Silicon Valley.
    Comcast, one of the country's biggest bandwidth providers, will have a prominent presence at the Atlanta Braves' new SunTrust Park, scheduled to open in 2017.
    But fans are also keenly familiar with the sensation of sitting down at their seats, trying to post something to social media -- and being met by the "spinning wheel of death." Moreover, as technology ventures into new areas, such as the live streaming of Periscope or Meerkat, venues and teams may consider it a threat, not a boon.
    On the concert side, there has already been a backlash against fans using cellphones, Papp observes, with some venues blocking signals.
    Sports, too, is part of an ever-evolving relationship.
    "As far as a team is concerned, they just want to get butts in the seats," he said. "You want to get people in, and if you can do it with technology, you're going to do that, and you'll make it easier to share with their friends."