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The time you spend at a sport venue has to be the most awesome experience each time you are there, whether you are a season ticket holder with courtside seats or a first-timer in the nosebleed section.

“Continuous engagement,” which spans beyond a season’s beginning and end, is something we talk about when designing the fan experience in any sport, but we naturally give more attention to game-day activities that surround the main event because that’s where almost all of in-person interaction with the fan takes place.

A fan’s journey includes fixed and variable elements. We can manage some of them, but not all. The fan experience is not one-size-fits-all. What works perfectly in one sport or region may not necessarily work as well in another.

Sports and entertainment organizations invest a lot of time and resources in the design of fan experience, and data is a key ingredient for gaining better and deeper insight, especially into understanding how fans relate or consume the experience. However, with disconnected and fragmented data points, we will be missing critical slices and can’t paint a complete picture of the end-to-end fan journey.

The formula for the fan experience in its simplest form consists of FAN + EXPERIENCE, as I covered in a previous post. Elements that shape their experience and influence our design include:

  • Pace of the game: Is the tempo fast like soccer and ice hockey or slow like baseball and cricket?  How limited are the opportunities to engage with the fan during the game?
  • Duration: How long is the game? Does it happen on a single day or over couple of days like golf?
  • Season: How long is the season? What other major non-sporting events do we compete against?
  • Intermission: How many intermissions are there during a regular game? How long are they?
  • Pre- and post-game activities: Are there opportunities to engage the fan before the game starts? What is the best time to do it?
  • Noise level: What is the noise level? Is it part of the game? Do we encourage the fan to cheer during the game? Or do we require absolute silence, as we do in golf and tennis?
  • Mobile devices: Are they allowed? If so, what role does free Wi-Fi play at the venue?
  • Time of the game: What time of the day is the game played? Is the time slot fixed (day vs. evening) or does it change from game to game? Does it take place all day like golf or tennis?
  • Outdoors vs. indoors: Does the event take place inside or outside? How much of the seating is covered or protected?  Think about the role of weather, not only during the game, but in some cases before the game.
  • Venue: What is the age and seating capacity of the venue? Where is it located? Is it in the city or outside the city? What other entertainment options do we compete against? Are there opportunities to improve options for transportation, traffic, parking, etc.?
  • Ticket: What does your ticket get you? A reserved seat (basketball, football, etc.) or access to the event (golf)?
  • Team vs. Individual: Is it a team sport, individual players (golf, tennis), or hybrid (Ryder Cup)?

Many of these examples may appear to be obvious, requiring no further discussion. But combining all of them into a single smart design requires integration of technology and demands additional considerations.

Understanding the design elements that influence our strategy is important for two main reasons. First, these elements shape our approach and help us identify the right opportunities for investment in areas where we can deliver the most value to the fan as well as to the sport organization. Second, they dictate the different data points available or required in order to collect measurable feedback and to drive actionable insight through analytics.

Measurable feedback and reliable insight based on solid data points are crucial. We want to leverage data to support conclusions, not assumptions that support the data.

Bottom Line

An engaged fan connects with the league, team or player on multiple levels. Each interaction can improve existing connections or generate new opportunities for further engagement. Data generated from these interactions creates the necessary raw material for designing and improving the fan experience. Integrated data and analytics platforms help to study these enriched and integrated data sets. Actionable insight gained through these platforms enable the foundation for faster, better-informed decisions.

And the right technology solutions make it possible.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Fan Experience Matters series.

Connect with me on Twitter (@KaanTurnali), LinkedIn and

The Fan Experience Matters Series:

Overview | Analyzing the Formula | Data Is a Strategic Asset | Fan Insight Through Data | Design Elements | The Essence of Fan Journey