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Pro Teams Look To Score Big By Improving Fan Experience

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Apparently going to see a live sporting event isn't as exciting as it used to be.

A recent study shows that, even if given free tickets to a game, 57 percent of fans would rather watch at home.

Local teams have taken notice -- and they're enhancing the experience.

As CBS2's Steve Overmyer reported, sporting events are still one of the few places peopel congregate for a shared experience. But now a whopping 96 percent of fans at NBA games say they use their phones to complement their viewing experience.

"I think technology is a key, something that we definitely take advantage of," said Shawn Bennett, the Knicks' vice president of event presentation at Madison Square Garden. "We came up with a selfie race, where fans actually send their selfies into a hashtag, and we pull those hashtags and integrate it into a live, animated video feature during the game."

The Garden also uses "Air Cam One," a helium-filled, remote-controlled floating camera that spends the game giving fans what they want -- themselves.

Marc Bauman, executive producer of creative productions for the Knicks, says Air Cam One helps "get people engaged that have never been engaged."

Meanwhile, the cost of an NFL ticket league-wide this season has risen by 8 percent, but what are you getting for your hard-earned cash? An upgraded experience.

The No. 1 issue for fans is the amount of time spent in the ticket line.

"So we've eliminated paper tickets, and now we have these high-tech scanners," said Seth Rabinowitz, the Jets' senior vice president of marketing and fan engagement.

Special cards not only speed up the process but act as a rewards program. For instance, if crowd noise helps force a penalty, fans get bonus points on the card.

It's also about interacting with the players. Some fans are literally right on the field.

"Our strategy is to really to make coming to the game about much more," Rabinowitz said. "There is nothing like the excitement, the passion of being here with 80 thousand like-minded fans."

Anthony Mills, a Jets season ticketholder, said he likes that "the video screens actually keep us up to date with what's going on in the NFL, so it's just like you being at home. You can see your fantasy stats up there."

Added Rabinowitz: "There is no substitute for seeing the game live ... and still ultimately why people should come to the game."

Franchises are using technology to attract a younger audience because for the first time in 50 years there is a decline in the percentage of teens who call themselves avid sports fans.

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