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Single Sign-On (SSO) in Sports, the Gateway for the Digital Fan Experience

All sports leagues and sports media should consider implementing a Single Sign-On (SSO) on their website and app. An SSO improves fan experience and it’s a great starting point for your organization to activate fans thanks to a unified fan profile.

First things first, what’s an SSO exactly?

A Single Sign-On is a type of authentication that allows users to log in to several related, yet independent, software applications (websites, apps). The big advantage of an SSO is that a user has to use only one set of login credentials to gain access to multiple related services.

The best known examples of SSO are the social logins. Numerous websites and apps let users log in via their Facebook, Google and Apple accounts. It’s a frictionless method because it makes registration procedures way faster and easier (for the user) while still having a reliable user verification (for the business).

All of the social logins have their specific peculiarities: Sign in With Apple is focussed on offering the end user unique privacy and security features, Facebook Login and Google Sign-In let developers ask a large number of permissions with the end user still having the control over which information they share during authentication.

Yet you don’t need to use any of the social logins. It’s also entirely possible to create your own login. The biggest sports leagues in the world all do that, and some of them use the social logins as a supplementary and convenient login option:

  • NFL: email, Facebook, Google and Apple
  • MLB: email
  • NBA: email
  • Premier League: email, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple
  • La Liga: email, Facebook, Google

But the biggest takeaway from that list is that they all have a login!

Benefits of a Single Sign-On for a sports fan

  1. One login to rule them all.
    A fan only needs to register and login only once to access all the content and services. Website and app? Same login. Buy and watch live streams? Same login. Gamification features such as fan votes and games? Same login.
  2. Tailored user experience.
    Logged in users can indicate their team and other preferences, and your website can adapt to that. Examples: show breaking team news in the fan feed, highlight upcoming matches in the broadcast schedule, notifications and more.
  3. Control your data.
    Fans will be in control of their data and have a better understanding on what is collected and how it’s used. This boost in transparency builds trust. They’ll be able to go to their personal profile on any of your services, and manage anything they want (opt-in to mailings, notifications, edit personal info).

Benefits of a Single Sign-On for a sports league

  1. Come out of the dark and start gaining insights.
    Without a login, you can only know so much with standard analytics based on anonymised data. An SSO opens up your organization’s ability to start getting to know the fans on the digital side and how they interact with your sport and services.
  2. Work with different 3rd party software providers.
    A sports league can create a stack of services it wants to provide to its fans, without being dependent on one single software vendor. All your applications and services can be standalone, but your fans don’t notice that because the same login credentials will be used throughout.
  3. Funnel your data streams to your Fan Data Platform
    Having an SSO makes your life (and that of your developers) much easier when it comes to collecting and unifying your data streams. Data from logged in users is easily captured and managed in your central Fan Data Platform.

A login is so much more than thinking it’s just a box for a username and password which creates friction for your fans. There are incredible benefits for both you and your fans that you would never have without one. The end goal is to create deeper relationships between your fans and the sport.

It is of vital importance that you communicate the login benefits to your fans. Fans won’t hesitate to create a profile when the benefits are clear and make sense. One of those compelling reasons to register: playing fantasy sports!

Example – VRT Profile and Sporza Wielermanager

VRT is the public broadcaster for the Flemish Community of Belgium. It has 7 tv and radio stations, multiple dedicated brand websites, an OTT platform, etc. VRT created the VRT Profile, an SSO for all their websites and applications.

One of the VRT brands is Sporza.be, the biggest sports website in Belgium. Fan Arena and Sporza have been working together since a couple of years to create the Wielermanager (Cycling Manager) to bring fantasy cycling to the masses. And the Wielermanager also uses the VRT Profile as the Single Sign-On. All the fantasy cycling fans are now logged in to play their game and when visiting sporza.be, whereas before they would never be compelled to log in to sporza.be. Thanks to the fantasy game they have a reason to do so. And on the backend it’s fully GDPR compliant. Fan Arena anonymises user data when people use the VRT Profile to log in. As a 3rd party software provider to VRT and Sporza, Fan Arena doesn’t store user data and it doesn’t know the real owner of the fantasy teams, only VRT does.

Let's talk to see how you can use an SSO and a fantasy game to start building fan profiles

Joey Gastmans

Author Joey Gastmans

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