Among the extraordinary innovative efforts being made by Euroleague Basketball clubs to serve their fans who currently cannot attend games in person, Anadolu Efes Istanbul recently raised the bar with the introduction of a technological marvel that offered a first-of-its-kind experience in European basketball.
The Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands miraculously put fans in courtside seats through video technology to create a game-like atmosphere that included their live cheering and reactions to the action – all the way from their homes.
Efes, the reigning gold standard as measured by Euroleague Basketball's Devotion Marketing Awards, went to great lengths to reward fans with a unique experience while preserving all the health protocols necessary at the moment.
More than 100 people collaborated for over two months to pull off the Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands in time for the team's last EuroLeague home game. Efes played host not only to FC Bayern Munich, but also to 300 fans who became part of the match experience as seen at Sinan Erdem Arena and on live broadcasts of the game.
The Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands used the Together feature of Microsoft Teams to invite fans with usernames and passwords to log in to the festivities and take their seats close to the action. Made possible by partnerships with beIn Sports Turkey and Microsoft Turkey, it was the first such experience during a live game for any sports fans in Turkey or any basketball fan in Europe.
The system features LED screens that fill the stands behind the team benches and measure 27.5 meters wide by 3 meters high. More than seven kilometers worth of cable connects the system and nearly 20 Efes employees were among a live moderation team that provided assistance to hundreds of fans.
After it was over, the fans raved about being included in the Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands and called it an unforgettable experience in their social media posts. The project resonated with Turkish media, as well, generating news that reached a total of approximately 5 million people during the week of the game.
An even bigger number of Efes fans is being served by another unique project, Anadolu Efes Studio, which consists of 90 minutes of live-streamed pregame activities, including a live background shot of the team warming up for the game, as host Mustafa Ozben and guests discuss the upcoming game and see exclusive videos such as team captain Dogus Balbay quizzing superstar Shane Larkin on his Turkish language skills.
Anadolu Efes Studio has been in session since the start of the season, reaching almost 1 million fans already, and will continue all season long. Each pregame episode includes famous guests like ex-players, influencers and broadcast personalities. Fans, too, become part of the show by participating in live competitions and content. Anadolu Efes Studio is published live on the club's official Twitter account, giving the program wide accessibility to any and all fans of the team.
Such investment in digital transformation by Efes and other teams is helping fans through these tough times to stay close as possible to the EuroLeague teams they are so devoted to.
"As one of the pioneer clubs in European basketball, digital transformation has been one of the most important topics in our agenda since five or six years ago," said Gokce Dayi, Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager at Efes. "Playing Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games behind closed doors becomes an opportunity for us to connect with our fans through new digital platforms. Even though we can't host our fans in Sinan Erdem Sports Hall, we get together with them thanks to Anadolu Efes Studio and Anadolu Efes Sports Club Digital Stands. We have reached almost 1 million fans already, created new communication opportunities for our current and potential sponsors, and we have huge expectations about reaching millions of fans. We will continue to execute additional innovative efforts throughout this season."