Sports Teams Use Big Data Analytics to Improve Fan Experience

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-08-14 Print this article Print
big data nfl fans

Team officials used a range of contact methods—from email to direct mail to phone calls—to contact these rookies, an effort that resulted in a 200 percent gain in attendance at the orientation. The Patriots also send out emails to people who attend games to get their feedback, and make a push to keep in touch with season ticket holders when they miss games.

"Not surprisingly, if you don't come to games, you might now renew," Gelman said. "If you miss four games the likelihood that you will renew is just more than 33 percent."

The Patriots offer other incentives, such as encouraging season ticket holders to wear a pin and earn a chance to win prizes at the game and sending gift cards to the pro shop. The team wants to keep engaged with the fans.

The result has been a jump in renewal rates each year, even as the competition from TVs gets tougher, she said.

 Officials with the other teams and the NFL had similar stories. All talked about the need to better know the fans and their expectations, and then make moves to meet those expectations.

"We’re doing a lot to focus on what the fan experience is," said Michelle McKenna-Doyle, senior vice president and CIO of the NFL.

Teams are growing in their use of mobile ticketing to get more insight into who is using the tickets and watching the games—such technology gives the Boston Bruins insight into the two-thirds of fans they don't know who are watching the games, according to Laura Zexter, director of business intelligence solutions at the TD Garden and the Bruins—and there was talk about using iBeacon in their stadiums and arenas. iBeacon is a Bluetooth technology in iOS 7 from Apple that would let teams track fans who have the apps on the iPhones throughout the stadium and enable the teams to offer information about everything from what's available at the concession stand to how long the lines are at the bathrooms.

Brian Shield, vice president of IT for the Red Sox, said iBeacon is still in its early stages, but there is promise.

"It's a really interesting science project, but it is a science project that has some merit," Shield said.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel