Twenty-four National Basketball Association teams have partnered with San Francisco-based Stanza for real-time calendar sync, a feature that allows fans to easily get their favorite teams' schedules and updates throughout the season.
Sports have always been a natural fit for the company, said Stanza founder and CEO Smita Saxena. She came up with the idea when she was an athlete at Stanford University and found it difficult to download accurate softball schedules on her digital calendar.
Saxena sees Stanza as a "reminder button for everything." Participating teams include the feature on their websites, and with one click, fans can sync the upcoming season's schedule with their personal calendars for free. All synced info is instantly searchable, shareable and trackable. And the company has also partnered with NFL, NHL and NCAA teams.
So far, all but six NBA franchises are on board, and more than 100,000 basketball fans have synced team schedules' with their calendars. The number of users is expected to climb again before the season tips off on Oct. 27.
Participating teams have included Stanza's "add to calendar" button on their websites, and that button will remain uniform to help Stanza build its brand. The service also allows teams to send live updates about game times, tickets and even where to find the game on local TV. Ken Bonzon, the Dallas Mavericks' IT director, said fans used to have to manually download the calendar.
"Now thousands of our fans receive a mobile notification before each game. All the information fans need is at their fingertips—ticketing links, tune-in info, live-streaming links, you name it," he said. "As an organization, we get valuable analytics and provide targeted exposure for our sponsors as well."
Starting slowly with ads
Stanza is considering adding advertisements to the product and has already dabbled in that arena, adding a United Airlines link to the calendar of Denver Broncos away games.
"We're trying to be very careful because we built this for the fans first, and we want to make sure there is integrity around the fan experience," Saxena said. "We're trying to figure out, what is the value of a calendar event and notification?"
Saxena said the service is trying to build an advertising model while "making sure the fan experience is still maintained."
Of the NBA fans who have synced their calendars, 78 percent are male, and 70 percent come from mobile devices. The company wants to partner with all major sports teams eventually. Major League Baseball could be a natural fit with its 162-game schedule, filled with rainouts and delayed start times, but MLB Advanced Media controls all-things digital for the league.
"Yes, it's a good fit. It's just that MLB is structured differently from the other leagues out there," Saxena said. "NFL and NBA teams have more control over what goes on their website. Whereas, with MLB, we're going to have to work with [Baseball Advanced Media]."