How Notre Dame uses Hopin to create a virtual watch party for Fighting Irish football games

About

The University of Notre Dame is a private research university with over 12,000 students. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are Notre Dame’s ranked football team and a part of the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of college football in the United States.

Challenge

Solution

Result

Notre Dame needed an interactive virtual “stadium” for their football fans

In the summer of 2020, The University of Notre Dame needed to create a virtual experience that all fans could participate in the fall — not an experience that only a few hundred could.

We wanted to create something that could scale, and we were realizing that it was really hard to find ways to do that.
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Jodain Massad
Executive Producer - University of Notre Dame

On top of that, they hoped to create a virtual platform where Notre Dame fans could host football watch parties with friends or groups — like a party for a graduating class, the alumni association, or even Notre Dame donors.

We wanted to be able to have a place where multiple groups could find out what room they wanted to be in and either [attend] a party or host their own party and just let everybody come in whose credentials allowed them to.
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Jodain Massad
Executive Producer - University of Notre Dame

Massad stumbled upon an online article about Hopin. From there, he started researching the platform. Massad says he soon realized that Hopin was, “exactly what I’ve been looking for.”


Notre Dame chose Hopin to bring their vision to life

We call it Rally House and the idea is that you go into this party house and there are tons of rooms that you can open the doors into and you can knock on the door and [moderators] will let you in.
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Jodain Massad
Executive Producer - University of Notre Dame

Two hours before a Notre Dame home game, Rally House opens and fans can join the main stage for exclusive programming with Notre Dame’s Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick. During this live show, Swarbrick and special guests will have uncut conversations and take audience questions.

One hour before the game, the Field Pass Stage goes live. Inside this Stage on Hopin, fans can get access to the field sidelines to watch exclusive interviews with some of Notre Dame’s former players and even current NFL stars.

As soon as players enter the field for warmups, the Field Pass Stage shows a live feed of players warming up and working out and interviews with coaches on the field. “It’s pretty unprecedented to have that kind of access so quickly or in such proximity to kickoff,” says Massad.

At kickoff time, Rally House goes live on the Celebrity Watch Party Stage. It’s a separate stage in Hopin where they have former NFL players and friends of Notre Dame speak and host their own watch party. “They're watching the game ... commenting on what they see [and] telling stories about their time on campus,” says Hodges.

For example, when Notre Dame played rival football team Clemson on November 7, 2020, three former Notre Dame football standouts and professional football players — Reggie Brooks, Christopher Zorich, and Tony Rice — hosted a watch party from the Celebrity Watch Party Stage.

Once during every quarter of the game, the host invites a fan on stage.

It was a really big treat for the fans to be able to get up, engage with those former players, tell stories, share stories, and share that experience.
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Jodain Massad
Executive Producer - University of Notre Dame

Rally House even has a room called the Under Armour Push Up Room. “If you've ever been to a Notre Dame football game, you know the tradition is every time The Irish score a touchdown, the entire student section does push ups,” says Massad.

Whenever Notre Dame scores, fans within Rally House are invited to visit the Under Armour Push Up Room — sponsored by Under Armour and created using Hopin’s Sessions feature. Within the room, they’re encouraged to turn on their camera and do pushups for everyone in the room to see.

During halftime, Rally House gives attendees the opportunity to meet other fans in a private virtual room for one-on-one, five-minute video and audio conversations. Notre Dame Athletics uses Hopin’s Networking feature for this room, and customized the branding of it, renaming it Fan Connect within Rally House. “You're guaranteed to create a moment there,” says Massad. “And it's a fun way of engaging with people and having an experience that's worth sharing as well.”

They also used Hopin’s polls to engage attendees with questions related to the game. Notre Dame Athletics even gives out prizes to randomly selected fans who answer polls.


Results

Thousands of fans have joined Rally House to support The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team and party together virtually.
And during a challenging time when not all fans can attend and tailgate at Notre Dame games like in years past, Rally House creates a similar experience where fans can still build memories.
We want to be able to provide another experience that's memorable, something that you can tell your friends about. Because at the end of the day, life is a collection of memories. [Rally House] is an experience that doesn't happen every day. And we were able to be a part of making sure that it did.
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Jodain Massad
Executive Producer - University of Notre Dame

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