While tech giants Apple and Google battle it out for market share with mobile payment applications, the Brooklyn Nets have unveiled their own in-house option. Called the Brooklyn eWallet, the function is part of the Nets team app and developed in partnership with American Express. The Nets introduced this Wednesday night at Barclays Center for their game against the Bucks. Here's how it works with a smartphone:

We gave it a try and found that the app scans quickly and properly. If this can cut down the wait time at the concessions stands, the app figures to be popular, and other teams will likely create their own apps. Now if they only had an app that made the bathroom line move faster.

By Jordan Bellar
SportTechie

In Silicon Valley, technology is king. The greater San Francisco Bay Area is home to many of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies. Given their prime location, the San Francisco 49ers have inevitably become leaders in early adoption of new tech. Gone are the days of the paper ticket stub, because next season, the 49ers will exclusively use mobile ticketing for their games.

Levi's Stadium, the new home of the 49ers, opened for the 2014 season touted as the most technologically advanced stadium in the world. The state-of-the-art stadium mobile app enhances a fan’s game-day experience with features, including mobile ticketing, parking passes, food and beverage ordering, in-stadium navigation assistance, and a “game-center” for high-definition video replays.

The decision to move to get rid of paper ticketing stems from this year’s heavy adoption of the mobile ticketing feature in the new Levi’s Stadium app. Nearly 30,000 fans were expected to take advantage of this option for the matchup against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 2.

Season-ticket holders have been especially accepting, with 60 percent choosing to link their tickets to the mobile app and 70 percent linking to the parking feature. Fans who use the mobile ticketing feature are eligible to win prizes, including a $50,000 Toyota Tundra, 65-inch Sony television, and trip for two to this year’s Pro Bowl, among others. These promotions really help to drive the app adoption rate.

In an interview with Sports Business Daily, 49ers’ Chief Operating Officer, Al Guido, said: "Our goal when we launched this system was to drive adoption and the numbers have been mind-boggling. To already have almost half the season bowl locked into mobile is fantastic. We want to rip the band-aid in year two, and that’s what we're doing."

Though 14 NFL teams began offering the paperless ticketing option this season, the 49ers are expected to be the first and only team to only offer the mobile option in 2015. But some fans are wary of this move.

Paper ticket stubs have long been valuable memorabilia for fans to remember their experience without actually making a purchase from the team store. Not only will teams likely drive in-stadium purchases and reduce ticket printing expenses, they will also be able to collect more data from fans than ever before. Even if a ticket holder sells their ticket, the mobile feature allows teams to better understand who is in the stadium and more effectively market to the individual based on their information and purchases.

The 49ers are setting a precedent likely to be followed by most NFL teams in the next couple years.

Technology has created an advantageous ticket market for consumers looking to buy sports tickets. Now, those tickets can be bought at the last second -- even if you aren't near a printer.

Credit that opportunity to Gametime, a mobile app that lets fans purchase tickets on a whim.

The San Francisco-based company has an app, available on both iOS and Android, that makes all tickets available to be digitally scanned off the buyer's phone.

The app also features real-time updates accessible through a "pull-to-refresh" feature. This lets buyers keep updating to see whether tickets are still available -- or whether new options have been posted for sale.

So far, the app works for tickets at 60 participating venues.

Tickets are available for the big four sports, as well as major league soccer and NCAA events.

In 2014, ticket sales on the app have accelerated quickly. Since January, sales have increased by 600 percent, according to a report in VentureBeat.

As more venues start participating with Gametime's program, those numbers are projected to increase.

The app also features low percentage cuts taken from the tickets, which means consumers pay less than they would through a fee-heavy secondary market seller.

The app's developers hope the new ticketing software takes less time for fans to use, allowing them to spend their free time in other ways -- and with the comfort of knowing that they're covered for the game.

EA Sports wasn't joking when it said FIFA 15 would be the most realistic soccer game ever made. For all the detailed features added into this year's game -- which include adjustments to account for ball spin during gameplay -- the most popular will surely be the integration of biting onto the field of play.

Uruguay's Luis Suarez made headlines in this summer's World Cup when he bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini toward the end of a group play match. Suarez was suspended from all FIFA-regulated play for four months after that incident, which includes missing matches with his professional club, F.C. Barcelona.

Suarez is known for using biting as a dirty tactic in games, having done it at least twice before at the professional level. Suarez has pledged to never bit again, but that promise apparently does not apply to his video game character. Fans playing the game's demo have witnessed Suarez biting in the game on several occasions:



One interesting feature of FIFA video games is that players suspended in real life are unavailable to be used in the game. Since Suarez's ban is still in place, he can't be played with in the actual game. But he is available in the game's demo mode, which is where these biting incidents are presumably being found.

It's unclear if FIFA 15 will include this feature in the full game mode, or if it's merely a promotional tactic. But if EA Sports is committed to a realistic game, the right decision is obvious.

By Jason Notte
MainStreet.com

The NFL reserves the right to black out games on local television this season, but fans don't have to play along.

The NFL blacked out only two games in teams' home markets last year, down from 15 games in 2012, 16 in 2011 and 26 in 2010, but it still has the power to take games off local television if attendance falls short. Under the NFL's original television blackout rule, which dates back to an act of Congress in 1961 that created the league's current antitrust agreement, home games couldn't be shown on TV stations that broadcast within a 75-mile radius of the stadium if non-premium tickets weren't completely sold out 72 hours before kickoff.

Last year, the NFL allowed teams the option of calling games "sellouts" at 85 percent capacity and keeping them on local television. Even after opting into that rule this year, however, the Cincinnati Bengals needed a last-minute sales push to avoid blacking out broadcasts of Sunday's home game against the Tennessee Titans.

That reduced blackouts and shifted blame for them from the league to its individual owners, but more importantly it opened a discussion about avoiding blackouts altogether. Last year the Federal Communications Commission made a non-binding decision to end NFL blackouts. In an op-ed for USA Today published this month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler vowed that his agency would vote Sept. 30 to end sports blackouts completely, saying they "are obsolete" and “make no sense at all.” Fortunately, fans don't have to wait for that result to dodge the NFL's blackouts.

The NFL gave fans a way around blackouts when it added the RedZone channel to its NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-town game package on DirecTV a few years ago. That channel shows only the scoring drives from each game, but has no means of blocking scoring drives in games played in home markets. Better still, the NFL has opened RedZone access to Dish Network, Verizon, AT&T U-Verse, Cox and Cablevision customers as part of its NFL Network offerings. It requires a subscription, but it also bypasses the less-interesting portions of a home game to get right to the action.

That's actually a better deal than subscribers who pay $5 a month for Verizon's NFL Mobile streaming service or fans paying $240 to $330 a year for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket are getting. Each of those services is still subject to NFL blackout rules despite their subscription costs.

If you're looking to watch the whole game, however, there's only one real way around a home blackout: a virtual private network connection. Online viewers can join services such as Express VPN or Safer VPN to change their Internet Protocol address to an one beyond the local coverage area and stream games through the NBC, Fox, CBS or Yahoo! websites, or ESPN if you have a subscription.

If you're feeling really intrepid, you can change to an address outside the U.S. and subscribe to NFL Game Pass, which allows fans outside the U.S. to follow a specific NFL team for $100 a year, follow all the NFL regular-season action for $130 a year or get access to the playoffs -- which b>aren't immune from blackouts -- for $200. The NFL still gets paid, fans still get to watch and VPN technology makes sure nobody's the wiser.

Internet service providers can't do much about VPN servers and aren't really trying. While some users have tried using enhanced Domain Name Systems (Smart DNS) for the same purposes, some ISPs have resorted to DNS hijacking or transparent proxies to render that method useless.

As long as the NFL gets paid, it doesn't seem to care. Last year, the NFL made nearly $10 billion in revenue, with roughly $6 million of that divided among team owners. The NFL's money machine made more than the $8 billion produced by Major League Baseball over the same span and more than the revenue of the National Basketball Association ($5 billion) and National Hockey League ($3.7 billion) combined. Its television revenue is only going up, as it's reworking a $1 billion-a-year deal with DirecTV for its NFL Sunday Ticket package for out-of-town games and just took $275 million from CBS to broadcast Thursday Night Football this season.

Overall, Fox, CBS and NBC pay the NFL $28 billion -- or roughly $1 billion a year -- for broadcast rights through 2022. ESPN pays $1.9 million each year -- or more than double what any network pays for a season of Major League Baseball -- just to host Monday Night Football. Meanwhile, 34 of the 35 most-watched television shows last fall were NFL games.

NFL blackouts may be nearly extinct, but there's no reason for modern fans to put up with them when technology has rendered them obsolete.

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