New York Red Bulls ‘Bullish’ on Engaging Fans Through New Sony Technology

The New York Red Bulls play their home matches at Red Bull Arena, a 25,000-seat stadium in Harrison, NJ. As one of the original Major League Soccer franchises, the Red Bulls are always looking for ways to connect with fans and deliver an unforgettable experience.

For the past two seasons, the team has received the highest marks across a number of experiential touchpoints from the J.D. Power Fan Experience Study, so it is no surprise they take technology seriously. When the team was looking to upgrade Red Bull Arena, they turned to Sony Electronics to deliver professional products and solutions that would streamline their production workflow to create and deliver an engaging experience for their dedicated fan base.

From technology within the stadium and behind the scenes to products including servers, switchers, storage, Video Assistant Referee solutions and cameras at every level, the Red Bulls recognize that technology is essential to becoming more efficient internally as well as enhancing the fan experience.

“Raising the bar for the fans’ experience at Red Bull Arena is something that we focus on every single day. We strive for a live event that is a memorable one for attendees, their friends and their family,” Clint Wulfekotte, the Red Bulls’ Senior Director for Partnership Sales in Marketing says.

“A lot of enhancements to our fan experience revolve around technology, and New York Red Bulls as a premium brand are always looking to align with premium partners, and we’ve found that in Sony. Sony provides superior products in enhancing our arena and providing upgrades, not only to our control room, but to front-facing aspects of our fan experience in the form of televisions and video boards. We look for a great partner now, and one who will remain a great partner for the New York Red Bulls for many years to come.”

Rich Kaufman, Senior Manager of Match Presentation at Red Bull Arena oversees the stadium’s control room, graphics and video boards, as well as pre-game and post-game on-field activations.  When upgrading the control room, Kaufman was looking for solutions that were “cost effective, professional, enhanced our presentation and made sense for our space.”

“We already had a familiarity with Sony products, so when they came to us and presented an all asset solution, including a new replay system and an upgraded switcher, we could tell they understood what we are trying to do here and having Sony’s assets and expertise at our disposal for training allowed us to be fully operational in a short timeframe,” Kaufman says.

One of the latest products geared towards creating an improved production workflow is Sony’s PWS-4500 server, which the Red Bulls use for replaying high frame rate, slow-motion content and building highlights packages

“When their eyes are going to the video board to look for the replay, the PWS-4500 allows us to have six angles coming in, so we have the best options to show fans what’s happening in the game and what they may have missed,” Kaufman says.

“Using the 4500 replay server allows us to capture as much as we can from a 90-minute soccer match. With the ability to have six cameras coming in, we can build a much more engaging highlights package to recap the game, and also having all those cameras at our disposal for getting the best angles for our fans during live play.”

Arpan Mukherjee is a Content Producer for the Red Bulls, tasked with planning, shooting and editing the team’s online videos. He uses a complement of Sony professional 4K cameras including two FS7s, an F5, FS5 and α7s. After using an F5 for many years, the Red Bulls continued to buy Sony cameras.

“We started with Sony because we wanted a camera that was a bit more professional and video-centric – not a photo camera that’s being translated. Because of the high-paced nature of the game, we needed cameras that could capture high speed and the only affordable option we found was the F5. We stuck with Sony over the years, because the cameras all have the same color profile, so they are easy to match. Between the F5, the FS7, the α7s and the FS5, the colors match each other pretty easily without having to do too much grading, which is important for us, because we have quick turnarounds on our online deliverables,” Mukherjee says.

“Viewers at home, online, on YouTube and on Facebook come to us to see what has happened that same day. Previously it was tough to meet the demands of an online audience at the quality and standard we’re doing it at now, as quickly as we are.”

In the end, the Red Bulls realize that technology helps foster engagement, and in turn contributes to the overall fan experience, which is the heart of the matter

“Having the greatest advances in technology and working with Sony is only going to allow us to increase the fan experience, get better and keep up in a competitive market,” Wulfekotte says.

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