Sloan Sports ‘Fanalytics’ Conf.: Geeks Seek Reap From Tweeps in Seats

Fanalytics with Tim Brosnan (MLB), John Skipper (ESPN), Nathan Hubbard (Ticketmaster), Jonathan Kraft…Mark Cuban (Mavericks), Bill Simmons (Grantland), John Walsh (ESPN).  Sloan Sports Analaytics Conf, March 3, 2012, Hynes Center

This panel on “in-venue mobile connectivity” just killed it. Did you know that Major League Baseball ticket sales are in the midst of a revolution, with 50% now sold online? Or that, according to Nathan Hubbard, Ticketmaster CEO, each Tweet has a promotional value to them of $20, while each Facebook post is worth only $5-6?

Hubbard even let slip a blockbuster about Ticketmaster’s goal of “digitizing the in-game experience and broadcasting that outside the stadium,” giving hint about a tension, rarely referred to anywhere at the conference, between teams, media, and ticket-purveyors, about just who, exactly, is going to use, own, and/or profit from use of the entertainment content and transmission of that content.

In fact, most everyone in sports biz these days dreams of big benefit from the explosion of social media use by sports fans. Jonathan Kraft of the Pats lamented that – despite their investment of several millions in research dollars, they’ve concluded that “WIFI-ing” a whole stadium is prohibitively expensive. MLB’s Brosnan went so far as to celebrate the (interminably) lengthy average baseball game, describing it as “we call it leisure time to use social media.” (In direct contrast with Mark Cuban’s  typically incisive comments, at the following seminar, that “we don’t want anyone looking DOWN” at our games,” and that he wants to increase the “excitement” at the Mavs games. Thank god for Cuban – he’s apparently the only “Geek who Doesn’t Seek Reap From Tweeps in Seats.”

But the Yanks put up a password to WiFi in their stadium, and MLB won’t let YouTube post games. (In contrast, Kraft said he watched, and tweeted the link to, YouTube videos of the Raven’s last-second wide-right field goal which handed the Pats their playoff win.)

Brosnan’s quote that “social media “is the water cooler now,” might be one of the top quotes of the entire 2012 year, and he said MLB needs to use it more to communicate directly with fans. In fact, he said info on their product sent fan-to-fan is 27 times more valuable than if they send a fan an ad – and twitter activity at games, according to Ticketmaster, is up 7 times, year on year.

Summary #1: twitter is valuable, and a game changer, and teams are getting all social media data from Ticketmaster, Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

Summary #2: Watch out you ticket-buyers: “Technology, according to Hubbard, “is howing us that our tickets are worth more than what we’re selling them for.”

Read these Selected tweets from the Sloan, they’re great.


Jonathan Kraft: “For 70,000 people to stream video in a dense geographical area (i.e., at a stadium) is technologically difficult.”   We’ve spend $2-3mil just scratching the surface. – Jonathan Kraft, Kraft Group

“Fanalytics” panel without Mark Cuban again. Hoping he shows up, but the show must go on
Bryant is here to critically evaluate psychological tools used in the NFL such as the Wonderlic and the Troutwine athletic profile
Fanalytics panel is about in-venue mobile connectivity. Full breakdown of topic in last week’s @SBJSBD
#SSAC Tim Brosnan with the first ever silver lining on length of baseball games. “we call it leisure time to use social media”
MLB’s Brosnan: Baseball is undergoing a ticketing revolution
Tim Brosnan of MLB: 50% of tickets sold for baseball games are now sold online. A “ticketing revolution” is going on.
Kraft believes that it will take 10s of Millions of dollars to create the proper bandwidth in stadiums and arenas
Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard – immediacy of Twitter posts in tix purchase decision is huge, even if more people are on Facebook.
The immediacy of Twitter posts is very powerful for tix sales. Tweets = $20, Facebook posts = $5-6. – Nathan Hubbard, CEO Ticketmaster….,
.Interesting to learn from @NathanCHubbard that Ticketmaster sees more ppl promo having bought tix on FB, but Twitter drives more sales #
Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard talking about a goal of “digitizing the in-game experience and broadcasting that outside the stadium.”
John Walsh: ESPN will broadcast more live events in March than CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX combined for the year
tweeter  Interesting that MLB encourages wifi at games, yet the Yankees ban my iPad and put a wireless password up so nobody can use it
Bandwidth is the biggest bottleneck to getting thousands of fans on WiFi at games
@sportsguy33 says he prefers watching #NFL at home, asks if Red Zone will ever be available in-arena. Kraft says wi-fi is the issue.
Brosnan: No YouTube policy is currently being looked at. Baseball is a content owner and the consumer is going to drive our strategy.
25% of our tickets go unsold – Ticketmaster CEO; We have a 25% unsold rate too & a people who don’t show up problem – Tim Brosnan, MLB
Chuck Salter: MLBAM’s Joe Inzerillo should be on this #SSAC panel. He’s tackling highspeed Wifi to huge crowd in one location. Incredibly complex.
Fanalytics: Teams get data on fans from Ticketmaster, MLBAM, Facebook and Twitter. Is someone at MIT working on a way to merge this?
Kraft chuckles at MLB issues with ticket sales (25% unsold). Don’t think theres been one unsold ticket for the Patriots in his tenure.
Walsh: Obama privacy bill might affect the tracking of fans at sporting events.
That’s twitter activity during the game! RT @SloanSportsConf: Ticketmaster’s Hubbard — Twitter activity at a game up 7x yoy
“Average tix per @Ticketmaster order is 2.7, so we only know 1/3 of who actually goes, even if they don’t change hands.”
Patriots’ Kraft just gave shout-out to which analyzes app behavior. With opt-in from fans.
Mark Cuban is getting mic’d up..
Boston statup @sessionm gets major shoutout from #PatriotsPresident Jonathan Kraft here at @SloanSportsConf
The average Cleveland Cavaliers ticket changes hands 9 times before the customer reaches their seat.
Brosnan: We want data not to sell to others, but to improve the in-game experiences.
Bill Simmons wants a different price for every single seat in pro team stadiums.
Simmons: Why don’t teams price individual seats instead of sections?
Jonathan Kraft says he uses regressions to forecast fan activity
MLB and ESPN are using the social space to drive people towards television, not driving people away from it. They don’t compete
MLB’s Tim Brosnan says there is concrete evidence that social media increased ratings during 2011 Home Run Derby
John Walsh: In a 10-day period, Jeremy Lin merchandise was 50% of all NBA merchandise sold.
Simmons busting MLB’s balls about YouTube policy. Love it, love it, want some more of it.
Hubbard, talking about watching highlights: “YouTube is the only place that is doing a good job organizing real-time content.”
“Traffic to our .com site remains steady the past 2 yrs, but audio/video content sites continue to grow exponentially” -Jonathan Kraft
Jon Kraft: I watched 40 mins of YouTube clips of the wide-right kick, we tweeted links to them.
Mobile videos of game moments posted to YouTube doesn’t cause rights probs. I think it just empowers the fans. – Jonathan Kraft
MLB’s Tim Brosnan says social media “is the water cooler now,” and league needs to use it more to communicate directly with fans.
Tim Brosnan referred to Fan Cave as a “content engine.” Inserts players into a conversation about “the Kardashians or whatever.”
“this summer you will be able to tweet your vote for the artists encore” CEO of LiveNation. Cool stuff.
MLB’s Tim Brosnan said info on their product sent fan to fan is 27 times more valuable than if they send a fan an ad
Fans just want to know the best option to get to the game. As an industry, we’re not good at solving that prob.
Opposite of Napster, says Nathan Hubbard: “Technology is showing us that our tickets are worth more than what we’re selling them for.”
Many season tix holders are brokers. They clear their costs w/half of their tickets, the rest they can dump for $2. – Ticketmaster CEO
john walsh “We’ll steal anything…we’re proudly cheating everyday!” on espn taking ideas from other networks
Kraft believes things they’re doing in the EPL at the club level can be applied to the #nfl.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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