The Australian Big Bash League has continued to push the boundaries of innovative fan engagement with the Melbourne Stars announcing the launch of their new digital platform to engage young fans over the upcoming seventh season of the BBL.
As a result of introducing a fast-paced game day featuring non-stop entertainment, sports tech innovations like light up flashing wickets, international star players decked out in brightly-colored uniforms and cheap tickets to attract families, the BBL has broken attendance records and grown its female fan base to rapidly become a roaring success that has attracted global interest within the sports business.
One of eight BBL teams, the Melbourne Stars partnered with digital firm Eastwood to develop the Stars Squad platform, which sees the team now hosting one of the most engaging youth-focused digital experiences in Australian sport.
The Stars Squad is an interactive website that gives young fans access to exclusive immersive content and the ability to interact with the site to create a personalized memento. While being available on the web, the use of cutting-edge technologies gives it a visual and interactive feel of a native iPad app. The launch of Stars Squad also sees the establishment of a multi-year engagement initiative with Eastwood that is focused on connecting with the next generation of Stars fans.
At the forefront of this Stars Squad experience is Starmoji, which leverages this generation’s general love of emoji. Starmoji gives the fans the ability to create their own Stars-themed, cartoon likeness of themselves. Once created, fans get their own Starmoji powered playing card and poster that can easily be shared with friends and family to promote the team.
The website platform is supported with other engagement including a Starmoji iMessage app and in-game activations during the BBL. At home games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, fans can even create their own Starmoji in a purpose-built concourse activation and enjoy having their creation presented on the vision screens situated around the stadium.
“The Stars Squad website spawned out of some competitor analysis on what other elite sporting clubs worldwide develop in the online space to engage with younger fans (aged 3-12),” Melbourne Stars digital manager Ben Osborn said. “We were surprised out of this research to find that many clubs and leagues, including some of the heavyweights in the EPL, NFL and NBA, didn’t have a lot of up-to-date digital platform offerings that catered to these emerging fans.
“A core target audience for the Big Bash League and the Melbourne Stars are kids aged 5-12, and when we critiqued how well our normal website caters to these kids, we found it came up well short – hence why Stars Squad was born.”
“A key feature of Stars Squad was to develop it use in mobile and tablet browsers, rather than as a standalone App. With our target audience being younger kids, we wanted to make sure that there were no barriers to access the site (such as mum or dad’s App Store password) which might restrict use. In saying that, we wanted to develop the site with the required tactile interactions that kids expect in their digital experiences, such as the ability to tap and swipe to interact with content, rather than using a mouse to click.”
Added Eastwood head of design and user experience George Katsaras: “In recent years, we’ve devised numerous youth focused initiatives. With our experience in this space, we’ve identified clear and exciting territories that increase engagement within the younger audience. Stars Squad, and in particular, Starmoji, taps into the ‘personal’ and ‘creative’ mind-set. Our simple toolbox helps young fans creatively express themselves and in turn produce a highly personalised brand experience.”