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Volume 26 No. 208
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"Fluid Fan" Now A Key Component Of Sports Event Planning

Fleeter said "fluid fans" are those who come to events but don't fit in any one level of fandom or participation
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Fleeter said "fluid fans" are those who come to events but don't fit in any one level of fandom or participation
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Fleeter said "fluid fans" are those who come to events but don't fit in any one level of fandom or participation
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown

Several sports execs shared their thoughts on the intersection of tech and sporting events on Day 1 of the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium. One theme that kept coming up was how to better connect with the “fluid fan” -- defined as one who comes to an event or venue, but moves between various levels of fandom and levels of participation. The panelists acknowledged that they now have more than just diehard fans to engage with when putting together events. MSG Head of Esports Dan Fleeter said the fluid fan is constantly top of mind when putting together events at the company’s venues. “We think about using our venues in new and different ways,” Fleeter said. “It’s not just about the traditional sports, but about how to make sure our venues are equipped for all sports and all sorts of esports events.”

STAYING CONNECTED: USGA Senior Dir of Digital Media Amanda Weiner said that connecting with the fluid fan has enabled her organization to test out its own esports model. “We actually do a bit of our own in terms of virtual golf,” Weiner said. “We are incredibly interested in what esports could provide just from a venue perspective, but also in the world of golf.” Weiner credited USGA partner Cisco for the work they have done in bringing new venue infrastructure and tools to the U.S. Open. Cisco Marketing Manager for Global Sponsorship Marketing Ashley Marusak, also on the panel, explained the role her company plays. “At any sporting event, fans sort of want the same things,” Marusak said. “They expect to have connectivity when they're there. That's something that when you arrive anywhere you're like, ‘What's the WiFi code? What's the WiFi? Can I get to the WiFi?’ So that is like the baseline. It's foundational of what's expected. But people want convenience. If you're going to get people to get off their couch, they want an experience that's convenient.” NBA Senior VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations Matt Wolf agreed with Marusak. “Both at the NBA level and at the individual team level and as an industry we've been investing for so long into data and data infrastructure to collect all this information about who our fans are and what they're doing and how they're behaving,” Wolf said. “And now finally with mobile and other technologies, we have this great device that every single person is carrying into our venue to deliver them not only information and insights, but customized recommendations.”

PROVIDING CHOICE: CLEAR GM/Sports Ed O'Brien said that it’s all about providing fans and venues with choices. “It's not one-size-fits-all, and that's one of the key concepts around the fluid fan is that people do want choice, they want to make their own decisions and you can't just kind of force or just only give them one option, which is a real issue for the venues, because there's a whole host of options out there,” O’Brien said. “It's about providing enough choice and having the right data behind it to measure it effectively and quickly and then figure out what are the options you want to move forward with.”