CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30: Bank of America Stadium before the Carolina Panthers play against the Minnesota Vikings October 30, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
You know the feeling. You are at Bank of American Stadium watching the Panthers, and the TV timeouts seem to last forever. You pull out your smartphone to check fantasy stats or post on twitter, and nothing happens.
That's right, you are at an NFL game in a mid-major city in the US and you can't access the internet.
That's about to change. AT&T announced today it will provide 460 Wi-Fi stations around the stadium that will allow fans with smartphones and tablets to have free internet access.
Those who use a service other than AT&T can still access the free Wi-Fi, but will have an added step of logging in. It will not count toward monthly usage fees.
"Fans come to Bank of America Stadium looking for a fully engaged game day experience, and with the availability of AT&T Wi-Fi throughout the venue, now they can combine the excitement of cheering on their favorite team with having real-time stats, access to popular social media and all their favorite apps right at their fingertips," said Danny Morrison, president, Carolina Panthers. "Adding AT&T Wi-Fi to Bank of America Stadium will continue to enhance the fan experience."
The addition of AT&T Wi-Fi stations is just one example of the NFL attempting to add to the fan experience at stadiums. Earlier this year, the NFL announced it would also allow fans to see the same instant replay reviews as the referees. It will also roll out a program that will allow fans to listen on their smartphones to certain players during games a la NFL films. NFL attendance has remained as strong as any sport in the country.
But the NFL didn't become the biggest game in the country by resting on tradition and its own laurels. The addition of Wi-Fi is just the latest example of how the NFL is aggressively trying to keep fans in the seats, and dollars in the pockets of owners.