SAP Plans Stats Zone for Times Square's Super Bowl Boulevard

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-01-24

SAP Plans Stats Zone for Times Square's Super Bowl Boulevard

SAP, the B2B enterprise software company, would like to get to know its "customers' customers" and so has devised a way to hopefully meet several million of them on Feb. 2, during Super Bowl XLVIII.

In a warehouse on Long Island, SAP has constructed the NFL Stats Zone with Insights From SAP—a little house of sorts that it plans to pack up and reassemble on Super Bowl Boulevard, a 13-block stretch of Broadway that will feature football-themed attractions beginning Jan. 29.

An enormous display outside the Stats Zone will feature social media analytics—or, the Super Bowl's social pulse, as taken by SAP's NetBase real-time analytics tool. NetBase near-instantly scans Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites, blogs and really a large swath of the Internet, looking for keywords and making sense of the content it finds.

SAP's Super Bowl analysis will include fantasy player of the year stats, player vs. player comparisons, team comparisons, word clouds showing trending topics, a geographic display of fan support and sentiment questions.

In the chilly warehouse three days before its move to Times Square, the display outside the Stats Zone showed attractive, changing graphics and asked, "Which team are fans most passionate about?" It then showed the breakdown by week of which team had come up in positive conversations most often. (The scores were based on a scale from minus 100 to plus 100. If three negative things and three positive things came up in the search, for example, the score would be zero.)

Other questions will include: Do fans prefer talking about the game or halftime show? Which quarterback has the most passionate fans? And, do fans want it to snow on Super Bowl Sunday?

As of the data on the morning of Jan. 23, 65 percent of fans are hoping for snow on game day.

"Our goal is to make fans smarter," said Ben Richards with GMR, the marketing agency SAP tasked with designing and executing the Stats Zone. "We have real data, and we want to share it."

People tend to glaze over when SAP explains what it does.

"But when we talk about it in terms of Fantasy Football, people get excited," said Dan Fleetwood, SAP's group director of world sponsorships. 

When the NFL wanted to increase enrollment in its Fantasy Football league last summer, SAP partnered with it to build a Player Comparison Tool that enabled team owners to benefit from SAP's abilities to make sense of data.

"There are all of these choices to make. Do I sit this guy, do I start him? With the Comparison Tool you could look at parameters and compare them," said Fleetwood. (The NFL met its goal of increasing Fantasy Football enrollment by at least 25 percent.)

SAP Plans Stats Zone for Times Square's Super Bowl Boulevard

SAP has also done work in sailing—offering tools to help sailors race better and fans on the shore to better understand what's happening in the boats—as well as with the NBA.

"We helped [the NBA] take their 66 years' worth of data … and open it up to the fan base in a way that's relatable," said Fleetwood.

Inside the Stats Zone, football fans (and other people wanting to warm up inside even a small heated building) will be able to vote on football-related questions on tablets in the space and take a 10-question quiz using giant, touch displays. Some of the content is text-based, and some of it is video.

After the quiz, NFL Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk comes on the screen to offer a "his professional analysis of your performance," grinned Fleetwood.

Those who'd like a takeaway can smile into a screen and have a photo taken of themselves geared up in their favorite team's uniform.

Participants in Super Bowl Boulevard (which is free) can register when they arrive and receive an RFID-based badge that they can use to access or interact with the various events (there will also be a several-stories-high tobogganing hill). In the Stats Zone, for example, waving the RFID card will activate the photo software, pull up your hometown team's uniform as the default choice, to help speed the process, and instantly email you a photo after it's snapped.

SAP says it has no interest in users' data and is collecting none of it—all data registered to the RFID badge is dealt with by the NFL.

Also part of the Stats Zone, encased in glass, will be the physical technology making SAP's data offers a reality—a so-called "cloud room."

"We're trying to help people understand what the cloud is," said Fleetwood. "We see this as a story-telling platform."

What SAP learns from its experience with the Stat Zone—if not literally the little house itself—it plans to share with its sports partnerships, including the NBA and Formula 1.

"Every one of our teams wants a piece of this," said Fleetwood.

As for why the company that's the backbone of so many others has decided it wants a more public face, Fleetwood said it was a combination of sales, recruitment and simple branding. Maybe someone sees what SAP can do and begins to wonder what it can do for his small business. Maybe a coder thinks it's cool and decides to look into employment opportunities.

"Our goal," he said, "is for people to understand that SAP powered the cool experience they just had."

Anyone who can't make it to Times Square can visit the Stats Zone online at

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

Rocket Fuel