ANC supplies portable videoboards for Bevo Boulevard, where University of Texas fans gather outside the stadium. (Courtesy ANC)

ANC sees rise in interest for placement outside limited-capacity stadiums

Videoboard software producer ANC has seen greater interest in its portable products as professional and college football teams develop tailgate zones outside of stadiums that could sit half-empty this fall.

ANC, which is part of Learfield IMG College, is having those discussions with multiple clients as they solve the issue for how to generate revenue and create a quality game day experience, considering the pandemic.

The “theater of everywhere” concept, a tagline coined by ANC CEO George Linardos, is nothing new for the vendor, which presents itself as an experience design and execution company. But the idea has taken on greater momentum in the COVID-19 era, he said. ANC, for example, supplies portable videoboards for Bevo Boulevard, the tailgate zone for University of Texas football outside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“It’s a great pregame experience, with large screens up and down the street showing other games and broadcasting highlight reels to help create that atmosphere,” Linardos said. 

As schools and big league teams grapple with COVID-19 and to what point they can allow fans back into their facilities, the conversations have accelerated around the idea of placing video displays in common areas, walkways and parking lots on campus, and as part of mixed-use developments.

“If you’re only going to have 20,000 people in an 80,000-seat stadium, that’s a lot of lost revenue,” Linardos said. “There’s also a lot of unhappy ticket holders because you can only serve a small portion. We’re out there talking to a number of schools through our parent company.”

As of this week, no deals were signed as part of ANC’s “theater of everywhere” initiative, he said.

In addition, ANC has drawn interest from NFL teams for supplying digital inventory at field level for sponsors, similar to what’s done in soccer, Linardos said. The sidelines have historically been off limits for advertising, but all that’s changing now with teams losing revenue streams from ticket sales, concessions and merchandise. Last week, NFL owners approved teams to cover the first several rows of seats closest to the field with tarps that carry sponsor logos. Major League Baseball is considering the same thing, according to multiple reports.

“We’re also working with the NBA in Orlando on the tournament,” Linardos said. “There are a number of things coming together and in the final (contract) stages.”

As part of the overall trend, ANC is now seeing clients interested in renting portable boards for a longer period of time compared with a weekend setup. Some big league arenas, for example, are developing extravagant outdoor shows to extend the gameday experience over a three-month stretch for fans that can’t get in the building. 

In that case, it’s similar to what NBA and NHL teams do in outdoor plazas next to arenas during long playoff runs.

“We’re looking at a few arrangements that are long-term leases,” Linardos said. “Some teams are approaching this for several years to come regardless of what happens, even after going back to full capacity. Others just don’t know yet. People are still trying to figure it out.”

For the live music industry, ANC is providing videoboards for Live Nation’s drive-in concert series featuring Brad Paisley. The shows are July 10-12 in Nashville, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The deal extends from ANC upgrading in-venue screens at Live Nation’s 46 amphitheaters.

All told, the pandemic has brought some new clients to ANC’s door. One major corporation plans to throw a large outdoor community event using portable screens, although Linardos would not identify the company. 

“Our new fiscal year started (July 1) and the profile will look unlike any year we’ve ever had in terms of the revenue mix, who the clients are and the types of jobs. We are right in the middle now of getting a sense of what that looks like,” he said. “It’s not rinse and repeat over what we’ve done in years past, that’s for sure.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated.