Leveraging Fan Insights To Grow Revenue: Some Thoughts for Sports Industry Executives

Mark Lehew

Part 3 in the four-part series, “Some Thought For Sports Industry Executives

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of having a fan golden record. Now let’s take a look at how that data can be used to grow revenue.

Today, the pressure to grow revenue year over year is immense. There’s more competition for a fan’s entertainment spend than ever before. There’re only so many tickets to sell, based on stadium capacity and event schedules. New pricing and packages can move the needle just so much. But there’s a new game in town ― leveraging fan insights offers exciting new opportunities to grow revenue.

First, there is the global opportunity. Traditionally, North American teams are focused on the local market and spend little time trying to grow international revenue. Sure, some of this can be attributed to league revenue-sharing rules, resourcing, budget, and IT constraints. But the global opportunity is a significant revenue stream that should not be ignored.

Top European soccer clubs like Manchester United, FC Barcelona, and Liverpool focus to maximize this opportunity. Most are based in smaller cities with a limited local fan base to attend games. Yet they have hundreds of millions of fans globally who are passionate about their brand – most of them in Asia. Although very few of those fans will ever actually attend a game in person, imagine the revenue growth if we could get each of these fans to spend just $1. Think of the resulting sponsorship impact and brand value. That’s why these clubs continually invest to grow, identify, and engage the global fan base.

Second, there is the opportunity to act on the fan data in real-time to monetize moments of passion. Organizations need to make it easy for their fans to buy – whether they are at the game or across the globe watching highlights from their couch a day later. To do this, a team needs to generate personalized offers of what fans want, at the right time and in the right format, based on their preferences and behaviors. The best results come when the offer is triggered by a real-time event to coincide with a moment of passion. Barriers must be removed to make the buying experience quick, simple, personal, and easy.

In late June 2019, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees played two games in the UK’s London Stadium. The teams had a combined 50 runs, 65 hits, 16 doubles, and 10 home runs in what was the best-attended two baseball games ever on non-U.S. soil. Seventy percent of tickets were sold to UK-based fans, 20% sold to people in the US, and 10% were sold to the rest of the world. There were 13.95 million social media impressions generated for the event, and another 14,729 fans attended a baseball-themed festival in London Yards. And while specific numbers were not divulged, the event also set concession and merchandising records. According to SportsPro Media, “The two-game series comes at a time when organisations and federations increasingly [look] at the use of advanced, statistical insights both as a route for monetisation via advertising but also to help drive more fan engagement. High-level, real-time data is already being used across the pond to target advertising and products at relevant audience segments, and what will increasingly become the norm on both sides of the Atlantic is automated, targeted offers based on what is happening in a match, across a host of sports.”

Last, the power of globalizing your brand and monetizing moments can help grow sponsorship revenue. Sponsors are more demanding than ever with their spend. They want proof that your brand attracts their targeted audience in the numbers needed to justify their investment. A deep, rich dataset that allows them to segment and target however they want helps justify and grow that investment. The real-time capability provides options for unique and innovative activation tactics. Combined, this power allows us to differentiate and grow sponsorship revenue.

Thanks for reading. In my next – and last – installment for this series, I’ll share how providing a superior experience is crucial to keep fans coming back for more and helps to grow revenue.

Find out how sports organizations can gather more extensive and comprehensive fan data and use it to improve the fan experience and drive revenue growth using fan management solutions.


Mark Lehew

About Mark Lehew

Mark Lehew is Vice President and General Manager of Sports and Entertainment (North America) for SAP SE. Since the business unit’s inception in 2013, he has helped customers gain a competitive advantage in the areas of fan engagement, marketing and sales, team performance, and venue and business operations through the innovative use of SAP solutions. Mark holds a B.S. in Management Information Systems with a minor in Computer Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.