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Sports Analytics and Increasing Fan Engagement

Knowing and understanding fan engagement in today’s sport industry is essential within any sports organization. Since there are new technological platforms present in today’s industry, it’s becoming more important than ever to better understand fans and their motivations for attending games, interactions, retention rates, fan loyalty, etc. The most important factor in understanding fans today is why they decide to come back to attend sporting events, and analytics is becoming an engaging and effective measurement tool in today’s sport industry. How can sports analytics measure fan engagement today?

One important aspect of fan engagement today is providing fans with the most advanced and entertaining sporting event since the home experience is becoming more real and advanced with high definition televisions and soon-to-be 4K formats. One question many sport facility managers must ask is, “How can we get the fan from the home to the stadium experience?”

What sets the stadium experience apart from the home experience? This is where offering the advanced and futuristic sport facility trends and aspects comes into play for fans today, and analytic tools and methods can help measure if fans/consumers are actually staying engaged while watching the sporting event. So, what are some stadium trends fans are being engaged with today?

Since more sporting facilities and stadiums are being built from a futuristic technological perspective, more fans have access to free Wi-Fi, HD scoreboards, social media presence, digital ticket concessions, sport applications (apps), and the most intriguing trend in today’s stadiums, the fantasy football lounge, which the San Francisco 49ers take advantage of. Can these innovative strategies and trends keep fans coming back to the stadium?

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow fans to interact and engage with their favorite sports team, along with participating in incentive programs, as well interacting with their favorite athlete (s) and other fans. More importantly, fans are now able to personalize their social media presence during their in-game experiences and sport organizations are studying more of these habits and trends by using analytics to help better understand the preferences, habits, etc. of fans/consumers today (Davenport, 2014).

One sport organization that is utilizing analytics and fan engagement is the New England Patriots, who rely on sports analytics to measure behavioral trends and metrics of fans at Gillette Stadium (Davenport, 2014).

The Patriots currently study the habits of repeat customers, especially as it relates to retention rates among fans attending sporting events today at Gillette Stadium. Some of the behavioral metrics and analytical methods it studies deal with game attendance, merchandise purchases and other non-football related events, such as concerts and soccer games to get them back to the stadium. This behavioral analytical approach has proven to be very successful for the organization and other sport organizations, especially in the National Football League (NFL), having adopted a similar approach (Davenport, 2014).

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the San Francisco Giants have utilized the popularity of social media and analytics to better engage and enhance the fan experience. Technology is another important trend in today’s sport industry and many professional teams, including the Giants in MLB are utilizing both technology and sports analytics to effectively gauge the sport fan (Davenport, 2014).

One of the analytical methods within social media the Giants use to keep fans engaged while at the baseball game is using promotions and marketing incentives to ensure consistent fan retention rates. The Giants are taking advantage of the many uses of social media throughout the stadium such as scoreboard tweets of favorite players, social media promotions, fan customization, etc., to keep fans excited and engaged to come back to the stadium (Davenport, 2014).

As technology gets more advanced, it’s essential for sport organizations to adapt and utilize the analytical tools and methods available to engage fans today at sporting events. Being able to better understand the sports fan today by using analytical methods is highly essential and more are utilizing platforms such as social media to keep fans interested and engaged throughout.

Resources

1 Davenport, T. (2014). Analytics in Sports: The New Science of Winning. International Institute For Analytics, pp. 19, 20. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cd75/2a2ff86ff4f6d65efbc0db1ae70c434aa1ca.pdf.

About the Author

Jason Becker has worked in the sport industry within sectors such as marketing, promotions, communication and public relations. He also researches ways in which sport organizations and brands utilize analytics to better performance, engagement, awareness and future trends that are occurring. He currently teaches within higher education in Sport Management and teaches courses such as Sport Analytics, Sport Communication, Technology in Sport, Facility Management, Research Methods in Sport, Sport in Society and Leadership in Sport. He has over 15 years of experience in the sport industry. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from SUNY Oswego and my Master’s degree in Sport Management from Canisius College.

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