Wake Forest has unveiled an innovative and cutting-edge aspect of being a college football fan.
The Deacon Virtual Season Ticket is meant to provide fans with exclusive content throughout the week during football season and ramps up content when the Deacons have a home football game.
“One of our guiding principles is to create the best fan experience in North Carolina," Associate Athletics Director Rhett Hobart said. "I don’t think that’s limited to just in the stadium, and so looking at this, it’s a unique year in the world and in college sports."
It’s designed to bring the game-day experience to fans at home – certainly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also something that could become a permanent fixture.
Hobart, whose specific department is fan experience and brand development, said this isn’t just a one-year initiative.
“It’s something that we’re looking to continue long-term,” Hobart said. “I think there is some uniqueness about the Wake Forest fan base that makes something like this really appealing in that our fan base is so spread out and all over the place.”
Into his second year as athletics director, John Currie has stated from the beginning of his tenure how important it is in his vision for Wake Forest’s athletics department to enhance the fan experience.
“This unique opportunity expands our goal of providing the best fan experience in North Carolina to Deacon Nation wherever they may be watching our football games this season, and in the future,” Currie said through a news release. “The behind-the-scenes content and virtual experiences will provide value for everyone within our community.”
It’s a program that’s the first of its kind for any college sports department in the country.
“As we started working on this, your first instinct is to start looking, what are some ideas you can gather from other places? And really, we couldn’t find anything out there that resembled what we were wanting to do,” Hobart said. “Now … I imagine a lot of schools are going to be trying to do things similar this year, and even professional teams and leagues.
“But as of now, we don’t know of another program out there that provides the same experience or opportunity as this will do.”
DVST is available in two forms: the free version is rookie level and allows for access to in-app polling and trivia, access to a weekly schedule and the weekly DVST E-newsletter.
The “PRO” version features almost all of the exclusive content and costs $179 for a subscription.
The package boasts “a mixture of videos and graphics not available anywhere else, as well as written features and previews, complimentary in-game statistics and notes of interest.”
The marquee content, as the news release states, will be Deacon Gameday Live. It will serve as a two-hour countdown to kickoff from Truist Field — Wake Forest can provide video until the TV networks’ broadcast window begins.
“The first hour will take you around campus, around the stadium, kind of give you that game day feel,” Hobart said. “And then the second hour, we’re going to try to give fans what they get when they’re in the stadium.
“We’re actually going to be showing pre-game warmups on the field. … You will see the band pre-game show, you’ll see the team intro video, you’ll see the open-the-gate (tradition), you’ll see the team take the field.”
DVST will provide content throughout the week; not just on game days, Hobart said. It will be a mixture of exclusive content and priority-access content that’s provided on the app before it’s available to the general public.
Given that it’s the first program of its kind, DVST figures to be observed by other colleges’ athletics departments.
“It’ll be very interesting to see how they handle this, what kind of content they feel is persuasive,” said John Sweeney, the director of the sports communication program at University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. “I give them credit for innovation, and it’ll be very interesting to see how it plays out.”