In the sports and entertainment industry, like any other, data is collected from thousands of different consumer touchpoints 24 hours a day, every day. This vast volume of data is packed with valuable business insights, but excellent analytical capabilities, from teams to tools, are needed in order to safely and sustainably maximize its use to enable data-driven decisions.
Sports and entertainment have been with us for over 3000 years; the first recorded Olympic Games took place in 776 BCE and have been played every four years since (with a “minor” pause of 1500 years after Emperor Theodosius banned them due to their pagan influences). Sports are played and watched and enjoyed by people of all cultures around the world and will always feature largely in our lives.
In the sports and entertainment industries, as in many others today, fan and consumer attention is increasingly solicited, but disposable income is increasingly limited: with inflation at more than four-decade highs, consumers are reducing their discretionary spending. According to a survey conducted by Variety magazine, 55% of respondents said they have begun making changes to spending on activities such as travel, recreation and entertainment.
Meanwhile, fan and consumer expectations are higher than ever. They not only want brands to present them with personalized offers for sports and entertainment-related events and merchandise – they demand it. But due to ongoing changes across the regulatory landscape, especially with regard to the demise of third-party cookies which prevent the collection of consumer browsing data, it’s more difficult to precisely identify and target audiences, especially given that fans and consumers transcend geographical, cultural and time boundaries.
How data is changing the game in the sports industry
Intelligent use of customer data can benefit all areas of sports, from partnership and sponsorship activation to sales of merchandise, food and beverage (F&B), and tickets.
Partnership and sponsorship activation: Their participation facilitates identification of specific audiences (fans and consumers) for any given event, online or in the physical world. Other new entrants such as short-form fan-made content, e-gaming, betting, web 3.0, metaverse and NFTs represent engagement paradigms that should be added to the sports/entertainment portfolio as possible partnership and sponsorship assets.
Merchandise: By leveraging consumer data to power retail strategies such as data-driven demand forecasting, inventory management, product selection, product mix, and omni-channel availability and pricing optimization, brands can increase sales, conversion and price competitiveness.
F&B: As with merchandise, consumer data allows companies and brands to understand what fans like, forecast demand, manage inventory, employ dynamic pricing, optimize menu options and bundles, inform staffing levels, and measure what worked well, what worked poorly, and everything in between.
Ticket sales: Data can forecast ticket demand for any given event (physical and digital), optimize ticket pricing, and create event hospitality bundles (tickets, F&B, parking, accommodation, experience), all of which can be extremely valuable in driving sales and securing revenue.
What data is doing to light up the entertainment world
The entertainment industry relies heavily on data analysis today. Production studios, streaming services and media companies all collect vast quantities of data on production trends, viewing habits and programming preferences, and they need data analysis to make data-driven decisions. “You do not make a $100 million investment these days without an awful lot of analytics,” as Dave Hastings, Netflix’s director of product analytics, famously commented.
Insights from data enable companies to deliver concrete benefits to fans and consumers, including forecasting, personalization, and content recommendations by:
Adapting content, artists, or entertainers based on analysis of consumer data including demand, tastes, trends and customer sentiment;
Estimating demand for specific content to inform ticket and/or streaming pricing, and deciding when to release and deliver content;
Analyzing box office performance by using consumer and market insights to reveal why certain movies were flops or hits and predict which new ones will be successful;
Offering a content delivery channel mix (social media, connected TV, mobile, in-venue, virtual, etc.) based on consumer preferences drawn from collected data.
How data can boost fan and consumer engagement
By maximizing the value of their customer data, brands and companies in sports and entertainment could differentiate themselves by creating revenue-generating ideas for boosting attendance, driving engagement and brand affinity with unique fan and consumer experiences, and growing sponsorship opportunities.
Ten years ago, Data Management Platforms (DMPs) facilitated data-driven strategies, but today’s regulatory and technological landscape makes them obsolete as they were designed around third-party data (cookies). To make a difference today and in the future, data assets must be enriched and the trust of fans, consumers and audiences must be won. To meet these challenges, tools dedicated to the collection and processing of first-party data in compliance with regulations must be acquired. Customer Data Platforms (CDP) have become the preferred solution for many brands.
In the last nine months alone, Artefact has delivered more than 25 CDP projects. Brands are investing more resources into becoming consumer- and fan-centric because they see the continuously changing landscape driven by tightening data privacy regulations, the shift from CRM to CDP, omni-channel fan and consumer journeys, heightened consumer expectations, and consumer fatigue. Today, brands want to build longer-term relationships with their consumers that are more tailored, personalized and rewarding.
As the data-driven world continues to rapidly evolve, there seems to be little doubt about the business value of CDP. It’s time for organizations to consider deploying this forward-looking technology.
Over the coming weeks, we will share a number of insights both from an inside-out and outside-in perspective in the sports and entertainment fields. Be sure to watch for them.
Enriching the Fan Experience
Driving Off-Season Engagement
Maximizing the In-Person Experience
Moving from Content-First to Consumer-First
Maximizing and Automating your Marketing Campaigns
Data Aggregation: The Missing Key for Entertainment Brands