• 2014 Ticketing Symposium: Using fan profiles, analytics to understand consumers

    Using Fan Profiles and Analytics


    Josh Brickman, Monumental Sports
    Kenny Farrell, Arizona Diamondbacks
    Kevin O'Toole, Cleveland Cavaliers
    Anthony Perez, Orlando Magic

    While sports was a late mover, teams are using predictive analysis more and more to improve the business side of the operations and learn more about the total potential fan base. Kevin O’Toole, senior director of business intelligence for the Cavaliers, came from the banking world and admitted that sports was late to the party. “In general, I would say the sports industry has been a little late in getting data to help drive decisions,” he said. “One of our focuses for our organization is trying to broaden the focus that we have in using data. It’s about pricing, but there is a lot of opportunity in the sponsorship world and the data we can provide to sponsors to show ROI.” He went on to note that there are real opportunities in analytics. “Segmenting is the opportunity we have,” O’Toole said. “We have the chance to understand the profile of each individual fan, and that should ultimately be the goal. We are trying to understand each customer segment and what we can do to service them.”

    The Orlando Magic have been a first-mover in this space, and VP/Business Strategy Antony Perez said, “We are focused a lot on trying to personalize predictive analytics. We are looking at likely renewals, new buyers or lapsed buyers. Then we think about how do we turn those into campaigns that are streamlined, so that once a person takes an action, it turns into an individualized message from us. In terms of using all our data and being smart and targeted, we always call it being more like Amazon.com. They have specific data and we want to be like that.” Diamondbacks Senior Director, Business Strategy and Operations, Kenny Farrell outlined the size and the scope of his group. “If you go back three years, I was overseeing a CRM department,” he said. “But now we’ve turned into an analytics team, adding staff and skill sets, and so that’s been a transformation.” His analytics staff has grown to four, with, in addition to him, one person serving as manager of business strategy, a CRM analyst with a Sequel background and a statistician with a math background.    
     
    PROGRAM SUCCESS: In talking about successful programs this year, Josh Brickman, Directory, Strategy and Analytics for Monumential Sports and Entertainment, said,  “One of the new programs we did this year was using Google AdWords, and 80 percent of the buyers that came through that were new buyers. They were searching for tickets. We had different ad types and different ad copy that we tested and we found very good success from people who were looking for our games. It wasn’t as successful for the Capitals as it was for the Wizards. The Caps were more established, but the Wizards had some new fans, and it was very successful for us to reach new fans.” Perez noted that one effective measure of name capturing was the team’s wifi portal in the venue. Fans are asked to sign up voluntarily on the portal, and the organization added almost 60,000 names to its database from people voluntarily adding their personal information. Perez said they will do soft outreach to this group, but “it’s been a really rich data set for new people.” The D’Backs’ Farrell believes the team’s mobile app is also a strong product to data capture names in the venue, where fans are signing in. Meanwhile, asked about investments into such research, Perez noted the advantage he has in handling analytics for the business and the basketball side. “It’s helped that investments have been enterprise wide,” he said. “It hasn’t just been focused on one area, but it benefits across the entire organization. That’s helped us make a more significant investment.”


    Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic
  • TV Timeout: Gone Fishin'

    As the news broke that the Knicks would name Derek Fisher coach, many in the media weighed in on what the hiring means for not only Phil Jackson and the rest of the organization, but also for the future of coaching in the NBA. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said, "All the old-school coaches out there, their days are numbered. You’re seeing young coaches get hired, people moving in a different direction, bringing on guys who have limited experience, relatively younger. It’s a new day, a new age in the world of the NBA” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 6/10). Kings G Jason Terry said there is a "trend" in the NBA now with "guys that have finished playing go right to the bench" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 6/9). ESPN’s Mike Golic said, “He’s like a pawn in this one, is he not? He’s coming in as a head coach, but he’s going to take his direction from Phil Jackson. … Most coaches that go in, they get to do their thing. Derek Fisher is not going to get in to do his thing" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/10).

    MOMENT OF ZEN: NBA TV’s Sam Mitchell said of Jackson, “It’s not that he didn’t want a guy with experience. He wants a guy that knows him, that knows his system, that’s played for him, that he’s comfortable with. That’s going to be comfortable for Phil to come down or call him up to his office and go over certain situations with him" (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 6/9). ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy said it is "going to be different when you're transitioning from being the teammate to being a head coach" but Fisher is "going to fall back a lot onto how Phil Jackson sees the game and he'll teach it as such." Van Gundy added, "I think Phil Jackson will be wise enough to allow him room to develop and grow" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/9). CBS Sports Network’s Seth Davis: “I don’t think anybody expects Derek Fisher to rescue the franchise. If they do, let me be the spoiler for you, it isn’t going to happen” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 6/9).

    IT'S A HARD KNOCKS LIFE: CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said, “I wish ‘Hard Knocks’ would let us in Cleveland.” But the net’s Tony Luftman called Browns coach Mike Pettine’s "approach" to not appear on the series "a wise and pragmatic one” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/9). 

    BUT I REALLY LIKE RADIO CITY: NFL Network’s Damon Amendolara, on the NFL Draft switching locations: “I think there’s a split here. A lot of people love the idea of it coming to their town, but others say, ‘It works so well in New York. There’s a real sizzle there. Do we really want to see this go?’” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 6/10).

  • 2014 Ticketing Symposium: What will the ticketing business look like in 10 years?

    Look Ahead: The Ticketing Biz


    Susan Cohig, NHL
    Cole Gahagan, Ticketmaster
    Samuel Gerace, Veritix
    Bryan Perez, AEG
    Mark Plutzer, MLB Advanced Media

    It’s still all about the data. That was stressed by top ticketing executives during the opening discussion in Pittsburgh at the Veritix Sports Franchises & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium. Bryan Perez, AEG’s president of digital, ticketing and media and a two-decade industry veteran, said he is still closely following “the data piece” when it comes to ticketing and customer management systems. Perez: “Our big strategy is, we operate in ticketing, venues and sports teams, and we have touch points all along the ecosystem. Most of our initiatives are about aggregating all those points of contact into getting rich information on the customer. … It’s a complicated endeavor… It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible, either.”

    TIGHTENING THE TICKET WINDOW: When asked what he’s focused on, Ticketmaster EVP Cole Gahagan stressed the changing dynamic of the ticket sales calendar, and reducing the amount of time between when schedules are released and tickets subsequently go on sale, thereby providing more opportunity to capitalize on pent-up fan demand. “The conversations we are having right now are around time,” he said, “and are more related to what the on-sale looks like in the future, with the respect of schedule releases. What we are finding is, the on-sale is a complete misnomer. You are always on-sale. We see, in looking at data, a massive sales spike around certain events year after year, right when leagues publish their schedule. We are starting to challenge the teams and leagues to close the gap of when you go on sale and when the schedule is released, and I think you will see a change in that practice, with more teams taking advantage of that opportunity.”

    Veritix CEO Sam Gerace said that all the information consumers provide should help strategy. “Fans are busy expressing their preference every day on your device,” he said. “Consumers can express their preferences even before inventory goes on sale, and that can impact our pricing and strategy. On-sale has been transformed. Instead of using a limited set of information to establish your plans, we can have fans express their preferences, do advance reservations or hold their place in line, and so teams can be armed with all this information before it’s introduced. There is great opportunity in advance of the on-sale.”

    NHL SVP/Business Affiars and Marketing Susan Cohig added, “You can have a continual conversation with the consumer. What about parking? What about merchandise?  So one can cycle through all these opportunities to increase revenue, and so there are a thousand different ways we can connect with fans before they even enter the door.”

    BULLISH ON IBEACONS: Panelists all believe in the value and the promise of iBeacon technology, but each stressed that the next step is making the data more actionable, and more specifically targeted to individual fans. Perez said AEG is “very bullish” on beaconing, that it has invested in a beacon technology and will be conducting a trial of it next month in the Staples Center. Perez did stress that the offers conveyed through beacons have to become more sophisticated. “Right now there is a very generic messaging to beacon-ing,” he said. “‘There’s a concession stand. There’s a beer stand.’ But you have to get more granular than that. If the phone is buzzing in your pocket, it has to be something good.” MLBAM VP/Ticketing Mark Plutzer added, “It’s about getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. We are making sure it’s working and getting the information flow going. But we can really build on this to get really rich messaging, and some great opportunities. You want to understand where the customer is moving throughout the ballpark and having them raise their hand to say, ‘I’m here,’ and you can service that.  You really need to deliver a message that’s appropriate to them.”

    Perez and others were very bullish on taking the iBeacon information outside the ballpark to create more year-round fan engagement. Perez: “This could be a huge sales opportunity.  You could go to an advertiser and talk about all the fan behaviors in and out of the ballpark. … But we have to get it right. It starts slowly, but we’re going to be back here in two years and we’re going to be blown away by the information we’re going to be getting from these customers.” Gerace stressed that sponsors will be out front with beacon networks related to teams that they work with, so that a person walking by a bank could get a message of a special ticket or merchandise offer they could take advantage of just by walking in the door. Gerace: “It’s an immense opportunity that is selling itself.”

    QUICK HITS:

    Asked what type of CRM technology they are still seeking, Perez said, “It’s, Who are you with? Who is in your group? I don’t know whether the person who purchases tickets is the one who went, or was it someone else. The more that we can drive electronic and mobile ticketing, the better, because that transfer really tells us who is in the building. … Any technology that could triple my database overnight is going to be pretty interesting.”

    Gerace, on what he’s spending a lot of time on: “What experience a fan wants. Getting a fan to express what experience the fan wants so we can address that.”

    On trends in youth consumption, Cole said, “Friction is a massive deterrent to engagement and purchase with the younger generation. So the goal is to remove as much friction as you possibly can. It’s going to happen predominately on the mobile channel, so what we’re trying to do is get them in, show them what they want as quickly as you can, allow them to transact very quickly, and then get them out. That’s what they want.”


  • 2014 Ticketing Symposium: Networking and bagels (and fruit and coffee ...)

    We had a full room for networking today before the start of the 2014 Ticketing Symposium. Here are some of the scenes from the exhibit hall. Click any image to launch the slide show.



  • SBJ/SBD's weekly NHL Wrap-Around podcast

    As the Stanley Cup Finals continue, staff writers Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the latest hockey news in SBJ/SBD's "NHL Wrap-Around Podcast." Among the topics:

    Pittsburgh hiring Jim Rutherford as general manager.

    NBC's ratings success with the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Reviving the World Cup of Hockey and what that means for the Olympics.

    And the NHL is on the way to adding $1 billion in revenue by 2015.

    Tags: NHL, Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Horse Play

    California Chrome co-Owner Steve Coburn, on his apology for comments following the Belmont Stakes: “I wanted so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America and I was very emotional. … (But) it's a learning process for us and I'm going to do better. I'll promise you I'll do better" ("GMA," ABC, 6/9).  Sports talk radio host Dan Patrick, on Coburn: “He picked the wrong time to wage his crusade and he embarrassed himself and took a great story and made it bad” (“The Dan Patrick Show," 6/9).

    COLLEGE TRY: CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said of the Ed O'Bannon case, "When it got started five years ago, there was a suggestion this was going to be Armageddon, this was going to be the last great battle between good and evil and that if the NCAA lost, they'd be out of business and it would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. It hasn't worked out that way" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/9).

    TAKING INVENTORY: MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa, on the Giants’ commitment to P Tim Lincecum despite his performance declining in recent years: “Whether it is Hunter Pence, (Pablo Sandoval) or Tim Lincecum, how much money do they generate just in the sale of their products, their jerseys and hats and everything? That's part of the issue” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 6/8).

    MOVING PARTS: ESPN’s Adam Schefter said of the NFL possibly moving the Draft, “It will be a big surprise if it was in New York in any capacity” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 6/6).

    GENERIC BRAND: ESPN’s Pablo Torre said of Texas A&M, Northwestern and Arizona selling generic jerseys with no numbers or player names, “It’s the second-most obvious thing they could after not having the ability to profit off of the actual likeness of a player in a video game” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/6).

  • Podcast: SBJ's AD survey and AD of the Year

    College writer Michael Smith and editor Tom Stinson give their thoughts on SBJ's Division I athletic director survey, as well as on Duke's Kevin White winning Athletic Director of the Year.

    Tags: Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: News and notes, 6/6/2014

    LOS ANGELES — News and notes from four days at the Stanley Cup Final …

    There will be a World Cup of Hockey in August and September of 2016. It will be sanctioned by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, which will divide a possible $100 million in revenue from the tournament. The event does not need to be sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet has reported that the entire 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place in and around Toronto. Based on Chris’s reputation, his report is as good as gold. Expect an announcement close to the start of the 2014-15 season.

    NHL Wrap-Around Podcast:
    Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the week's hockey news before the start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals

    Expansion: Seattle is not happening, at least not in this decade. There’s no arena and the people who want to build an arena there want an NBA team first. I’d like to see Quebec City become a reality. Canada deserves another franchise and Quebec City has an arena and fan base and is a beautiful place. But I believe we’re a few years from serious discussions about a return there.

    NHL COO John Collins before Game 1, on the blessing of a Los Angeles-New York Stanley Cup Final: “It’s the entertainment capital of the world against the media capital of the world. It’s the top two markets in the U.S. It’s two very good hockey markets trending into great hockey markets. If you want to know why this is good for hockey, try to get a look at who’s in the suites tonight.”

    Of all the variations of “Go Kings Go” signs fans have posted in front of homes, businesses and facilities throughout Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods, the best was the marquee in front of a Methodist church. “It reads, “God Saves Souls, Quick Saves Goals.”

    Stick Tap: To the Kings’ Twitter feed, @LAKings, which just keep getting better — not just with the comedy, but with content.


    Islanders Sale Update (or Non-Update)

    In on- and off-the-record discussions with high-level NHL executives who would know, the unanimous feedback was that an Islanders sale from Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway or anyone else is not close. In a one-on-one interview, Commissioner Gary Bettman made that clear with The Shift. When asked if a sale announcement was being delayed until the completion of the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman said “Absolutely not. There isn’t anything to announce.”

    In his formal press conference on Wednesday, Bettman added of Wang, “He is continuing to consider his options and decide what he wants to do. I don’t think he’s reached a firm conclusion yet as to whether or not he wants to sell, sell it all, sell a piece. Until he does, none of us will know what the ownership situation will be. He’s not under any pressure to do it. I think on an emotional level he’s trying to come to grips with what he wants to do, particularly with the impending move to Brooklyn.”


    By the Numbers

    28: New York-area newspaper writers — representing a total of eight newspapers — who traveled to Los Angeles to cover Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    5: Celebrities in Gary Bettman’s suite for Game 1: actors Jon Hamm, Ellen Page, Catherine Keener, Kate Bosworth and film director Spike Jonze. Among other stars at the game: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Larry David, broadcaster/Kings season-ticket holder Al Michaels and bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    10,000: Estimated attendance at New York’s Bryant Park, which was packed to capacity for a viewing party of Game 1.

    4.78 million:
    Total viewership on NBC for Game 1. The game was No. 1 across broadcast and cable television with viewers between 18 and 49 years old. The game also drew 2.46 million on CBC in Canada.

    7.1: The local rating in Los Angeles for Game 1, up from a 4.2 when the Kings faced the Devils in Game 1 of the finals in 2012, proof that the fan base is growing in Los Angeles, a vital market for the NHL. (The game earned a 10.1 in New York — the best-ever rating for the NHL on NBC/NBCSN in that market.)


    And Finally …

    We’ll have more coverage from the Stanley Cup Final — including a look inside the Kings’ executive staff’s preparations for Game 1, along with news on NHL financials and event plans — in SportsBusiness Journal on Monday.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: The L Word

    NFL Network's Willie McGinnest said of the NFL not using Roman numerals for Super Bowl 50, "The NFL is tastemakers. We create the category" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/4). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said, "I seriously doubt that after one year of freedom from the pretentious nonsense of the Roman numeral that we'll ever go back" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 6/4).

    POSITIVE FLOW: ESPN’s Barry Melrose, on the parity in the NHL: “Every organization is run very good business-wise. They’re there to make money, that’s the difference now. There’s no weak sisters you can pick clean and steal their assets. Those days are over" (“OTL,” ESPN, 6/4).

  • TV Timeout: Career Move

    CBS’ Allie LaForce said of Dan Marino withdrawing his name from an NFL concussion lawsuit, “If you want to be able to get a job wherever, whether it’s broadcasting in the NFL or whatever you may choose, he will actually benefit and be eligible to collect the money from the eventual settlement, even though, he’s not involved in the lawsuit directly. … It kind of seems like a no-brainer to withdraw, although I agree, it’s not the bold stance to take” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/3). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, “This whole Dan Marino inclusion in this and now exclusion in this really shouldn’t change people's way of thinking when it comes to the NFL and concussions" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/3).

    SECOND SERVING: Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said of the Clippers sale, “This is replicating the Dodger deal more or less and it's on the assumption that the Clippers are going to get a TV contract like the Dodgers. That's not going to happen” (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 6/3).

    BUFFALO SOLDIER: ESPN analyst and former Bills GM Bill Polian said of the Bills' future in Buffalo, “I don’t think that any of this is predictable in any way because a lot of what we hear is either unfounded or in many ways above the surface and the real work is going on below the surface” (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 6/3).

    TAKING STOCK: 49ers TE Vernon Davis, on Fantex, which offers stock in his career: “It was a wise decision for me to partner up with these guys because I definitely look forward to building my brand” ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 6/4).

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