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

The wireless network in the stadiums is a key part of the fan experience, the team officials said. Fans want to text and use social media throughout the games, and they don't want to be hindered by a slow wireless connection. Most teams are building high-performing WiFi networks and other technologies into their stadiums, and McKenna-Doyle said the NFL was successful in its WiFi efforts during the Super Bowl in February in New York City. Such vendors as Cisco Systems and Intel see an opportunity there.

Extreme Networks is embracing the challenge of bringing wireless networks and analytics capabilities to sports venues, which Norman Rice, senior vice president of corporate development at Extreme, said is a market that could be as large as $1 billion. Extreme in January was named the NFL's official WiFi analytics provider for both the league and Super Bowl XLVIII in February. The company has deployed its WiFi analytics technologies in a range of NFL stadiums, most recently the home fields of the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The work in these stadiums also showcases what Extreme's technology can do, Rice said.

"We view our approach with sports venues and our partnership with the NFL as spheres of influence that lead to broader impact in other areas of our business including education and health care—thus making the opportunity substantially larger than the sports venue market alone," Rice said in an email to eWEEK.

Big data analytics is a fast-growing market, according to analysts at Frost & Sullivan. In a report released Aug. 14, the analyst said the market saw revenues of $3.2 billion in 2013, and will grow to $15.1 billion in 2020 as the amount and speed of data generation is outpacing the ability to manage it.

"High spending on data architectures to identify opportunities for future growth is driving the development of big data analytics solutions," Hiral Jasani, digital media industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said in a statement. "Further, the affordability of tried and tested open-source big data computing frameworks such as Hadoop is fueling demand."

Big data analytics is what will help the Patriots keep getting people to the games. The Patriots' Gelman was asked why the team—which unlike most businesses, has a long waiting list of customers who want season tickets—is putting so much effort behind the big data initiatives. She said it was important to take the long-term view.

"People are on the waiting list for the team where Tom Brady is the quarterback and Bill Belichick is the coach," Gelman said. "They're not on the list for the team [that will be in place] six to seven years from now."


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