4 Ways Sports Management Can Use Data To Drive Sales

Jaime Zuluaga

As we enter the last stage of March Madness (a crazy basketball tournament of 68 college teams competing for the ultimate prize), I was thinking about the amount of data that it generates and how sports management faces a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on data. 

Whether you’re the head of ticket sales, planning yearly promotional giveaways, or gearing up for the halftime show, you know improving yearly sales is a difficult task.

The professional sports industry drove $17.84 billion in gate revenues in North America in 2015 alone. Total revenue sources come from  several categories and differ depending on the sport and league. For example, the following are the top sources of revenue for the NFL, on average:

  • Advertising ($3 billion for regular season)
  • Licensing ($3 billion)
  • Merchandise ($2.1 billion)
  • Ticket sales ($51 million per team)

If you’re in the sports management industry, you know it’s vital to understand your team’s revenue, please fans, and keep venues full. When you collect data on a multitude of performance indicators, you’re able to truly understand what drives your growth.

Read on for four simple ways the sports and entertainment industry can use data to drive sales.

Total gate revenues from sporting events worldwide by region from 2006 to 2015. Source: www.statista.com

1. Understand ticket sale trends

Ticket sales go beyond just how many people attend games. Advancements in tech like StubHubVivid Seats, and mobile ticketing challenge ticket sales managers to understand exactly where revenue is coming from.

When you pull metrics like how many fans attended a game or season, what ticket prices they’re paying, and how many attendees bought from a third-party site, you can better gauge future sales trends.

Managers should use data visualization to quickly see trends like what third-party sites generate the most sales, which opposing teams bring in the most fans, or how many people purchase mobile tickets—without the hassle of a spreadsheet. Plus, when you view this type of data from your mobile device, you’re able to gauge ticket sales in real time without lugging a laptop from game to game. This helps you make quick changes, and avoid realizing a game was poorly attended only at the end of the season.

2. Give your fans what they want

Sports marketing directors put a lot of time into scheduling promotional giveaways, bringing in entertainers for halftime shows or inviting a celebrity to throw the first pitch. Data collection will help you understand how your fans respond to these efforts.

Collect fan data like social media mentions during games, how many attendees leave before the last play, or which rival teams drive up ticket sales. Also, test and track your team’s mobile app engagement during games to find opportunities for promotional giveaways, fan-to-play interaction, and coupon offers.

With data visualization in hand, you can understand which promotions are working and how your fans are responding. Make confident, game-time decisions, based on that event’s data, related to offering another in-game promotion or coupon giveaway—even when you’re away from your desk.

3. Drive concession stand revenue

Concession managers are responsible for the fun away from the game. They must have hot dogs and drinks ready, and ensure sales reps perform their best.

Many sports venues are now implementing data collection through concession factors like digital menu boards for dynamic pricing, heat map technology to analyze where to cut down on wait times, and mobile apps for in-seat ordering options.

Data like this helps managers understand if their prices are in line with attendee demand, peak times of the game, and which menu items drive profitability.

4. Gauge merchandise sale success

Sports merchandise managers have a lot on their plate, including keeping fan shops stocked with the latest apparel and meeting a wide range of budgets.

You can pull data on the past game’s apparel and souvenir revenue, the highest-selling items by player or position, and what prices ranges yield the highest volume of purchase. Data like this guides future shipments and guarantees a successful season.

With access to valuable, real-time data right on your mobile device, managers can walk around the stadium and compare each merchandise stand’s revenue to immediately address underperformers—and move any flex retail support to shops that are seeing the most foot traffic.

To learn more about mobile data analytics, visit here.


Jaime Zuluaga

About Jaime Zuluaga

Jaime Zuluaga is the global Renewals Manager for Cloud Analytics at SAP. He is a seasoned, customer-focused leader with several years of experience managing cloud subscription business, solution selling, and cloud analytics. He joined SAP via the acquisition of the Roambi technology, under MeLLmo, where he was a Co-Founder. Prior to that he was a product evangelist for Crystal Xcelsius. He has strong functional expertise in scaling teams and organizations, SaaS, customer success and programs, enterprise sales strategy development and operational excellence; along with a proven track record for driving customer engagement and innovative customer experiences.