Top Menu

Sports Business: A Naive Vision of Data

Guest article by Oscar Ugaz. His view that an important part of the future will be in the hands of mathematicians and statisticians. And the reaction it received from more traditionally placed ‘experts’. Connect with Oscar on Linkedin and follow on Twitter.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a round table at the Euroleague Basketball Summit 2012, an event that brings together the league’s 23 teams to discuss their marketing strategy and business approach for next season. The objective was to discuss digital business and the new trends in the industry. Executives from Bwin, Turkish Airlines, Galatasaray and the director of a global advertising agency were also at the table.

The exchange of ideas flowed smoothly until the moderator asked for predictions. I dared to say something that, from my point of view, is obvious: an important part of the future in our industry will be in the hands of mathematicians and statisticians. A meaningful impact will come from individuals capable of working with large amounts of data, understand them and then extract insightful, relevant and remarkable products and services.

My idea raised substantial opposition from the director of the advertising agency. From his point of view, outstanding products and services can only be produced if numerical approaches are set aside, and if just the creative and artistic thinking prevails. He believes that would be more than enough, if a relevant brand pushes the idea. “And that” he says firmly, “is the end of the discussion”.

Is that really the end of the discussion?

Sports and entertainment are some of the few industries that produce meaningful and powerful relationships with their clients/fans. This type of relationships makes some organizations behave like if they were managing an inelastic demand situation, which creates a culture of specialization in product and service deployment instead of exploring new ways to search and fight for additional sales. That’s the case for some top notch sport properties.

Let’s be honest here, the classic combination of TV rights, match day and marketing (sponsorship/merchandise/licensing) still makes sense. These traditional business models generate big amounts of money for the industry. The problem is that they also create resistance to exploring new options.

In that sense, disruptive innovation in media and the economic crisis has found many properties and sponsors unguarded. Nowadays, fans have new ways to enjoy content. Social media and online video portals (pirate versions included) bypass traditional ways to consume sports content. Meanwhile, many companies are looking for enhanced sponsorship deals that include new ways of activation and they expect not only awareness, but also conversion.

In the middle of this reality there is a new and relevant component: Data

Like never before, savvy sports properties and brands have the opportunity to obtain a lot of detailed information. Users of the mobile application of, let’s say a football club, are providing vast amounts of data each time they consume digital content. Something similar happens when they purchase from an e-commerce store or from a ticketing platform

, use their membership cards to obtain a discount, consume video content on an official YouTube channel or engage with the club Facebook page. Each of these services provides aggregated, and in many cases, very personal data about demographics, behavior and consumption.

The gentleman from the advertising agency at the Euroleague round table mentioned Nike+ as an example of what can be done with a pure creative approach-that’s a very naive point of view. Simply praising these products and services only for their clever gamification techniques, savvy social media approach or outstanding marketing campaigns misses the fact that data is not just a powerful externality, but a main goal to build around. With the adequate privacy and permission marketing authorizations, data about frequency, repetition, localization and relationships is obtained smoothly.

Does all this data makes sense by itself?

Absolutely not. It´s just an unconnected and senseless mess.

Here enters the mathematicians and statisticians with their clever business approach. Their mission is to make sense within the mess, and look for new insights and business opportunities. They will be able to connect them to generate new value. They will be able to see how the consumption of mobile content, the check-ins in a venue, the sales in an online store, the pattern of consumption of a membership card or the location of a run can help partners like Turkish Airlines or BWIN sell additional air tickets or bets. It will also help sport properties prepare new, insightful and more profitable products or services.

Big data is a relevant opportunity for the future of many industries including sports, but taking advantage of it requires the right approach and the right people. This is not about a sophisticated analytics system for a club website or an official mobile app. In fact, you must invest just 20% in software and platforms. The 80% must be oriented to pay clever people that can analyze the data and transform it into insightful and actionable information to generate new business. The bad news is that there is a shortage of this type of experts and its going to get worse. You must start to profile and search for the right people today.

But first me must get rid of our bias visions about how strong our brands and traditional business models are and start paying attention to new disruptive opportunities like the one that data represents. The point of view of agents and middlemen that are adept to the status quo and the “creative big idea” approach that have guided their services in the last 60 years doesn’t help.

Sports brands and properties with all their appeal and interaction can be outstanding examples of how powerful data can be used to exploit business objectives. Let´s avoid approaches that send us to the end of discussion and look for those who make it go further. It’s time to look beyond the obvious and avoid naive opinions on digital in our industry.

sports-networker_AFP_728x90

Latest Posts by Lewis Howes

football data

Guest article by Oscar Ugaz. His view that an important part of the future will be in the hands of mathematicians and statisticians. And the reaction it received from more traditionally placed ‘experts’. Connect with Oscar on Linkedin and follow on Twitter. A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a round table…

 The Best In #Sportsbiz This Week is a collection of articles curated by Sports Networker’s Online Marketing Intern – Holly Koski Sports Business Eagles’ Michael Vick launches sports clothing line Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is launching a sports clothing line called V7 that will be sold exclusively at East Coast sporting goods chain Modell’s. The…

Sponsored Post by Brian Collin The NFL has decided to release its All-22 film to the general public for the 2012 season. An invaluable tool for football coaches, the All-22 film does exactly what its name implies – allow viewers to see all 22 players on every play. The tape, which has been dubbed as the…

Guest post submitted by Lucas Biebelberg Today, one of the greatest sports agents in history, Leigh Steinberg, was incredibly gracious in allowing me to interview him for Sports Networker. Leigh is the founder and CEO of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, and has represented athletes such as Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Bruce Smith, Ben Roethlisberger,…

The Best In #Sportsbiz This Week is a collection of articles curated by Sports Networker’s Online Marketing Intern – Holly Koski Sports Business Nike and O2 launch sports loyalty scheme Nike has formed a first of its kind partnership with O2 to provide the operators’ customers with exclusive content and offers under the “Priority” loyalty banner….

A Guest Post by Steve Hamilton Many people believe that success in sports is driven solely by talent and training, but that’s not always true. There’s another “t” word that often plays an important role: technology. The recent controversy about the role that advanced swimming suit fabrics played in Michael Phelps’ impressive Olympic wins is…

The Best In #Sportsbiz This Week is a collection of articles curated by Sports Networker’s Online Marketing Intern – Holly Koski Sports Business Nike Tumbles Most Since 2008 As Profit Drops Nike Inc. (NKE), the world’s largest sporting-goods company, tumbled the most in four years after fourth-quarter profit unexpectedly declined for the first time since 2009…

Guest Post submitted by Harrison Kratz The 2012 NBA Finals just ended with the Miami Heat capturing the title. HowToMBA.com decided to put their own spin on the NBA Finals to look at the broader picture of business and basketball. While the NBA may not be the most popular major sports league in the country, it is…

The Best In #Sportsbiz This Week is a collection of articles curated by Sports Networker’s Online Marketing Intern – Holly Koski Sports Business Darren Rovell To ESPN: Sports Business Reporter Leaves CNBC, Returns To Bristol The world’s best known sports tweeter is indeed headed back to ESPN. CNBC’s Darren Rovell, who worked at ESPN prior to joining…

The Best In #Sportsbiz This Week is a collection of articles curated by Sports Networker’s Online Marketing Intern – Holly Koski Sports Business EPL scores $4.7b television deal The English Premier League has secured its status as world football’s richest competition with an astonishing $4.7 billion deal for domestic TV rights for three years. The agreements,…

, , , , , ,

3 Responses to Sports Business: A Naive Vision of Data

  1. Margy December 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Hi, Lewis. Thanks for the great info. Where can I find the infographic on football (soccer) data? It looks like good info…just can’t read it all and would like to use it in a blog or similar. Feasible? Thanks, man! You are the best!

  2. prashant December 13, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Hi, Thanks for sharing such a great info. I’m a buddying sports administrator, Can I get your email address?? So that I can personally contact you for some tips & help to make a great career in the sports filed. Thank you!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Best Of The Week: 15 December 2012. | - December 14, 2012

    […] Sports Business: A Naive Vision Of Data – Sports Networker, Oscar Ugaz. Considering how obsessed I am with stats, it’s almost insulting to think that some people think stats are unimportant. PSH. Creativity and innovataion is important to any industry, but stats are just as important. Ignoring them makes you a failure! Yes, I am dramatic… but you get the idea. […]

Leave a Reply