Dec 17, 2020 - Sports

Los Angeles F.C. wants to bring on-field audio to in-stadium fans

Illustration of a soccer ball wearing headphones

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Los Angeles F.C. soccer fans attend home games in the future, they'll want to bring a pair of headphones. Otherwise, they won't be getting the full matchday experience.

Driving the news: Mixhalo, a wireless networking technology that delivers high-quality audio in real-time to event attendees, has partnered with LAFC to bring in-ear audio to Banc of California Stadium.

  • Mixhalo was founded by Incubus guitarist and songwriter Mike Einziger and his wife, acclaimed violinist Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger.
  • They already work with bands like Aerosmith to enhance live music; now they're honing in on live sports.

What they're saying: "The idea is to transport someone in the back row down to the action on the field," says Einziger, who originally founded Mixhalo to allow concertgoers to experience what he and other musicians experience on stage.

How it works: Mixhalo will live in LAFC's free smartphone app, allowing fans to tune into audio channels including home and away play-by-play and Spanish-language radio.

  • The club also plans to experiment with things like mic'd up players and coaches, celebrity commentary and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
  • Unlike the "transistor radio guy" you often see at baseball games listening to a delayed feed, Mixhalo's audio is perfectly in sync with the on-field action.

The big picture: The sports world has been dealing with attendance declines in recent years, partly due to how good the at-home viewing experience has gotten.

  • The Mixhalo-LAFC deal is an example of how teams can compete with the couch through customizable experiences that are only available in-stadium.
  • This kind of innovation will be particularly important in the months and years ahead as teams try to convince fans to return to games post-pandemic.

Looking ahead: Mixhalo's network can deliver all types of data, so they've already talked to LAFC and others about powering things like in-venue betting.

  • "Anything that needs to be in real-time is our specialty," says CEO John Vars. "Right now, we're focused on audio, but once we're wired into a stadium and working with a team, the question becomes: what else can we do?"
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