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Broncos among the most innovative organizations in sports technology

Posted Dec 15, 2016

They are the second-most innovative NFL team behind the San Francisco 49ers.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A Super Bowl 50 victory isn’t the only way in which the Broncos have established themselves as a franchise that sits at the forefront of the NFL.

Sports Techie ranked the 25 Most Tech Savvy Sports Teams in 2016, and the Broncos landed at No. 14 on the list. They are the second-highest ranked NFL team, behind the San Francisco 49ers, who earned the No. 7 spot.

"Integrating technology throughout our football and business sides is a key organizational priority,” Senior VP of Business Development Mac Freeman said. “Whether on the field or off the field, there are so many ways technology is driving change across the sports landscape.”

In 2016, the Broncos became one of the NFL’s thought leaders in sports technology by incorporating various initiatives throughout the company. On the business front, the organization partnered with Bud Light to create two Twitter vending machines at Sports Authority Field at Mile High where fans follow on-screen instructions on what to tweet and then they’ll receive a prize. The Broncos also teamed up with Bud Light to create a team-color-themed, face-paint feature on the team’s app, and have also invested in tools like Gigya, Eloqua, Turnkey Intelligence, SSB and Tableau to further fan engagement.

On game days, fans can see firsthand the Broncos’ dedication to being a leader in the sports technology industry through the addition of augmented reality in the team’s Orange Herd app. Fans can use their smartphones to enjoy a 3D viewing experience by scanning one of six different souvenir cups. The Orange Herd app also has a virtual reality feature along with customized team emojis for fans to use. Finally, there are several beacons located throughout the stadium that fans can use on game days for giveaways and information.

The organization then teamed up with two local Denver companies, SendGrid and FullContact, to host the first annual Tackle STEM Colorado All-Stars Hackathon in November as part of the organization’s bigger emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academics. Offensive lineman Russell Okung, an ambassador for STEM education, was a guest judge for the hackathon — one of the many STEM events Okung has participated in since joining the Broncos. He joined the team website for a series called “Tech Tuesdays with Russell” that featured several different events throughout the course of the season, including a United flight simulation. He also attended a sports tech innovation competition that the Broncos hosted at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in June. Okung joined Freeman as well as Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway as part of a panel on sports technology. The team that won the competition, Stryd — a Boulder company that catalogs workout data and provides audio feedback via wearable technology — advanced to the final stage of the Global Innovation in Sports Competition where they won the grand prize of $112,612.50.

As a football staff, the Broncos began several new initiatives for the 2016 season aimed at further developing methods for recovery and ensuring the players are receiving the best care. One of those projects specifically regards nutrition and hydration so players can stay healthy throughout the season. The Broncos worked with Gatorade to create player-specific drinks based off how much they sweat during a practice or game.

For recovery purposes, the team partnered with Normatec to help the players recover faster from games and workouts throughout the week. Compression boots help reduce muscle soreness and improve circulation and ensure the Broncos are ready to go the next day. They also were the first NFL team to begin using Bedgear Performance Bedding to help players and coaches receive the best sleep possible. 

Finally, another area in which the Broncos are leading the pack in terms of digital innovation is through their online presence. The social media accounts rank near the top in every measurable category, and was the fifth top trending sports team on Twitter based on hashtag usage. Also, Google named the Broncos the NFL’s top trending team in 2016.

On Facebook, the digital media staff incorporated a messenger bot that fans could interact with in order to get the top content from the team’s website. It also created a desksite video portal that hosts all of the video content produced for DenverBroncos.com. Finally, it teamed up with Indi to create several social media challenges where fans could post photos and videos on their accounts to win different prizes like the opportunity to sing the national anthem at a home game. On gamedays, the team works with WayIn to filter fan tweets to display on the Jumbotron.

These are just a few of the ways in which the Broncos became one of the leaders in sports technology, but it’s also just the beginning of what’s to come.

"We will continue to be thought leaders, placing an emphasis on innovation and putting resources toward finding new opportunities as an organization," Freeman said.