| NEWS College Sports Add Glitz in Attempt to Keep Fans Coming - NBC 6 South Florida


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College basketball teams are trying to get fans to keep coming to games in the age of smartphones by making those phones an integral part of the experience.

That's evident every time cellphones in the stands light up arenas across the country during pregame lineup introductions.

Over 20 schools subscribe to a service enabling fans to have their phones light up in sync with music playing during pregame festivities. The program, organized by a company called Cue Audio, adds glitz to lineup introductions at various arenas from Oregon to Georgia.

"The light show's pretty cool," Tennessee guard Admiral Schofield said. "Especially when we have sold-out games, I think for the opposing team, you really see how many people are in the building, just by the cellphones. It brings a different intensity to the game."

The success of the Cue Audio project shows the variety of ways colleges are trying to assure fans keep coming to games when HD television makes it tempting to stay home instead.

Football Bowl Subdivision attendance has dipped every season from 2014-17 (2018 figures haven't been released yet). The same concerns exist in basketball.

The average attendance for a Division I basketball game last year was 4,807, a slight increase from the 2017 total of 4,799. Attendance rose 4.9 percent in the Southeastern Conference and 3.6 percent in the Big East, but dropped 5.2 percent in the Pac-12 and 4.3 percent in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while holding steady in the Big Ten and Big 12.

"One of the challenges we have nowadays with getting fans to invest in purchasing tickets and actually using them is to try to create moments you can't necessarily get at home from your couch or wherever you are watching on your phone," Virginia Tech assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions Lauren Belisle said. "Anything we can do to make fans feel when they're in the building that they're impacting the game and part of the whole experience is big for us."

Arizona State has added a disc jockey. North Carolina installed four new video boards at a cost of just over $5 million. Nebraska has a contest in which a blindfolded student gets on his or her knees to search for a pile of cash on the court.

North Carolina assistant athletic director for marketing Michael Beale says the aim is to make sure spectators experience something they couldn't see just as easily on television.

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