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Case Liiga

Digitalisation is improving the ice hockey fan experience – Extensive strategic cooperation between Digia and Liiga 

The premier Finnish ice hockey league Liiga has been making consistent efforts to increase digitalisation. Liiga and Digia are working together closely on a strategic level and developing services designed to improve the fan experience. “Modern digital solutions are essential for us”, says Liiga’s Chief Digital Officer Jukka Sundquist.


A Liiga game is in full swing, and the arena is packed. The game would be even better with snacks and a drink, thinks a spectator. He digs out his phone and opens the team’s mobile app. There, he chooses one of the arena’s restaurants and orders what he wants. He pays for his purchases directly through the app, and not long after his order arrives at his seat. 

Services like this were already being trialled in late 2023 at the ice hockey team TPS’s Liiga games in Turku. This is only one example of the extensive digital services of Finland’s most popular sports league Liiga, designed to take the customer experience to the next level. 

“Digital solutions are essential if we want to serve fans, especially younger generations, and consumers who don’t attend games regularly”, says Liiga’s Chief Digital Officer Jukka Sundquist. Innovative development is taking place in a number of different areas.

What we did

What we used

  • mobile apps: native app development 
  • website: React, TypeScript, Node.js, AWS Lambda 
  • backend system and data warehouse: AWS, Java, Kotlin, Docker, Kubernetes, Aurora
Digital solutions are absolutely essential in order to serve especially younger fans and consumers who attend games less frequently.

Jukka Sundquist, Chief Digital Officer, The Finnish ice hockey league Liiga

Mobile apps are “the keystone of the digital fan experience”

Liiga’s strategy is to turn mobile apps into hubs for new services and “the keystone of the digital fan experience”. This is why the decision was made to create a separate mobile app for each club, allowing them to flexibly serve their own fans and partners. 

Digia built a common platform for the mobile apps, the first of which was released in 2019. 

“The mobile app for Porin Ässät will be out soon, and HIFK will be joining the party in late 2023. With that, all 15 clubs will have their own app that functions alongside the Liiga app”, Sundquist explains. 

Over the past few years, features like customer identification – an important feature in modern digital services – have been added. With the ability to identify the customer and event, apps can offer fans personalised services at just the right time. 

“In the future, these services could do things like automatically giving fans who are arriving at a game for the first time with their children information about things like the arena’s supervised play area and other services that are relevant to them. Season ticket holders who come to games regularly, on the other hand, can be shown things like special offers on merchandise”, Sundquist says. 

Match tickets are one of the most important ways of identifying customers and events. Digia has already implemented digital season tickets on the platform, and there are plans to implement single match tickets in collaboration with ticket sellers. 

To engage fans on mobile apps, Digia utilises Fannex technology, which is commonly used in large North American sports leagues. Fannex introduces 15 different entertainment functions that can be implemented in the apps. 

For example, during a game, fans can use the app to vote for their favourite player or participate in a prize draw for a jersey. The results of votes like these can be displayed on the scoreboard for audiences to see during breaks. Sundquist explains that, today, many customers expect these kinds of modern utility and entertainment services to be available in sports. 

Digia came to the rescue in Liiga’s homepage project

Sundquist started working at Liiga a few years ago and had only been in the role for a few weeks when the problems facing Liiga’s website came to the fore. He explains that the website had originally been built with minimal resources and had been pushed to testing too early. Digia’s help had already been enlisted to try and see the project to completion and develop the undercooked aspects of the website. 

“Taking over development responsibility for the website was a thankless task. We already knew there was no quick fix to the problems. Nonetheless, the people at Digia took the bull by the horns, and work continued after I was brought in”, Sundquist says. 

Many problems were traced back to a surprising root cause. Statistics are one of the website’s most popular features, but the statistics system had remained underdeveloped for years. Liiga eventually launched an extensive statistics and data warehouse project, which involved updating all statistics from a period of nearly 50 years. 

“Work to overhaul the website has been ongoing for over a year now. For example, we are going over about 100,000 data points in just goalkeeper statistics, and many errors have been fixed along the way. We’ve occasionally had to go all the way to the Sports Museum to track down missing match data. Digia has built a new, centralised and modern data warehouse for statistics”, Sundquist says. 

Customer understanding helps in developing business operations

Liiga aims to achieve a deeper understanding of both its business operations and the needs of its customers. It has been working with Digia to create various documents to support this, such as customer profiles and journeys. To achieve this, they have utilised both short and in-depth interviews, as well as journals. With this data, it has been possible to create customer profiles and journeys for Liiga, which can then be validated through online surveys. 

“We especially want to get a better understanding of customer groups that don’t regularly attend games. The goal is to establish how we could better serve these groups”, Sundquist explains.  

This also allows points of friction throughout the customer journey to be identified and addressed, which helps increase customer numbers. 

“Cooperation has been extremely fruitful”

“Cooperation with Digia has been extremely close and fruitful. Digia has worked quickly and expertly”, Sundquist says. 

Sundquist’s daily meetings with Digia’s development team are a testament to the intensity of development efforts. According to Sundquist, both Liiga and the ice hockey clubs have been happy with the progress of digitalisation. This can also be seen in good results. The user numbers for Liiga’s mobile app, for example, have risen by 50 per cent. 

“If I had to choose one adjective to describe how Digia do things, the first that would come to mind is reliability. We have not run into a situation where we couldn’t resolve a problem or Digia didn’t have the right expert for the job. This has made it very easy to rely on Digia as a singular partner”, Sundquist says. 

Sundquist has found that the best results are achieved when the customer is an active participant in development. The close cooperation between Liiga and Digia continues. 

“When it comes to digitalisation, we will be busy for years to come”, Sundquist concludes.