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Winning is the only measurement that counts most in sports, but what if your team does not win the championship? That is a guaranteed outcome for all but one team in each league every season.

Some teams suffer from decade-long droughts. In the absence of a championship, fan experience is the ultimate measure of success.

Fan Experience Stands on Data and Analytics

No magic prescription can prevent all losses or disappointments, but the basic formula to deliver a world-class fan experience almost always starts with decisions born out of data.

Data plays a crucial role in the design, development, and execution of the fan experience blueprint because it helps us better understand the dynamics of the fan journey.

Teams can use that information to build a continuous-engagement model that increasingly needs to be executed in real time.

The Fan Experience Formula Is Made Up of Two Basic Parts

The fan experience blueprint includes traditions that sometimes go back centuries, as well as contemporary elements that reflect technological advances and changes in social sentiments.

In the context of data and analytics, our goal is to promote data-driven decision making for sports and entertainment organizations. Therefore, in its simplest form, the formula includes two basic parts and reads: Fan experience equals fan plus experience:

fe = f + e

The fan possesses many of the same characteristics as a customer in a typical business model or engagement, but the experience consists of anything that directly or indirectly involves the fan as it relates to the main event. Every touch point generates data that can be part of the puzzle.

Advances in technology, delivery infrastructures and convenient access to these platforms make data collection simple and cost effective. However, even if we have all the data we need in-house, we still face the arduous task of integrating these data troves in order to take a holistic view.

Some of these analyses need to happen in real time to realize the data’s true value. For example, a perishable item must sell on game day or it will go bad, while other merchandise can be marketed over a longer period of time through multiple channels beyond game day.

Elements of the Fan Experience Formula Carry Unique Attributes

The first component of the fan experience is gathering characteristics that form the fan identity, painting a picture of an overall fan base. Characteristics that define the fan base include slowly changing attributes (such as age) and rapidly changing elements (such as attendance or game-day interactions that tend to change more frequently and generate larger data sets).

Sometimes data is readily available and easily captured in digital form, and other times it is impossible to collect the data or perform reliable analyses. The key to driving actionable insight is not capturing or combining every data fragment out there, but integrating strategic data assets to enable better-informed decisions.

The second component is the experience, which always presents itself in two separate cuts: fixed elements (the fan needs to purchase a ticket) and variable elements (the ease or quality of the experience of purchasing a ticket).

Moreover, each opportunity the sports organization has to connect or engage with the fan throughout the fan’s journey will include some parts we may be able to influence (the process of purchasing tickets) and others we have no control over (the weather).

Bottom Line

Better understanding both components is central to solving the fan experience formula, especially because the value of each variable is unique to each sport, market and organization. It is a process that depends on robust data platforms that can integrate often fragmented data sources for reliable and predictive analytics solutions.

Integrated data and technology platforms are a prerequisite for enabling sports and entertainment organizations to make faster, better-informed decisions. But data and analytics don’t guarantee better decisions, only better-informed decisions.

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