During last year’s lockdowns, one entertainment firm empathized with frustrated sports spectators and used analytics to achieve a win-win situation.

Last year, when live entertainment and spectator sports were brought to a screeching halt, sports teams had to find new ways to engage with fans.

One international sports and live entertainment company was agile enough to use data analytics to personalize marketing and communication channels to keep sports fans engaged despite the challenges.

For example, in order to analyze fan sentiment amid the initial chaos and confusion of pandemic lockdowns, the firm, AEG Sports, created data models to gauge fan perspectives toward such things as returning to in-person games. By continuously analyzing such fan sentiments during the pandemic, the firm was able to personalize messages based on each fan’s interests and feelings on personal safety, and also to identify which fans needed targeted retention efforts.

Using these data strategies helped the firm to keep fans happy and boosted the ROI of marketing campaigns. According to its business analyst John D’Onofrio: “A lot of our fan communication during the pandemic has been fairly casual, often through surveys, which we use to gather and analyze their attitudes and feelings. As a result, a lot of our fan engagement has less of a sales tone and more of a conversational tone.”

Analytics for optimal decisioning

The entertainment firm also used data-driven capabilities in their IT infrastructure—AI-powered SAS solution on Microsoft Azure for contingency planning. The ability to quickly ingest and model data from multiple sources such as ticketing, partnerships, marketing, weather reports and health experts—helped the firm to continue operations amid pandemic-driven uncertainty.

Another benefit of data intelligence was the ability to make rapid decisions via visualization of data. “Data visualization is critical to our business. Most people are visual learners, so being able to show a visual representation of data has been extremely beneficial in gaining buy-in. Right now, almost every department in our company uses data visualizations to make decisions and operate more efficiently,” said D’Onofrio. 

The ability to create visual reports was particularly valuable during the fast-paced hockey season. “We need to turn data around quickly for games, so having daily reports with visualizations that sales leadership can look at and immediately understand is essential, especially when there’s a new game every two days,” D’Onofrio explained of the data-driven decision-making process. So, instead of being frozen by infinite possible scenarios, the leaders can tweak incoming parameters and quickly determine the best way forward for the marketing teams.

Finally, to prepare for the time when most fans can safely return to physical arenas, AEG Sports has used machine learning to determine new pricing strategies based on changing factors like ticket demand, venue capacity, public health restrictions and other variables.

Resilience in unpredictable times

Sports teams have a unique relationship with their fan, and AEG Sports knows each customer’s passions and preferences intimately, through its use of information technology.

Even in difficult and unpredictable pandemic circumstances, they used analytics to gain a deep understanding of fan reactions to the disruptions, in order to determine how best to support them through it all.

According to Aaron LeValley, SVP of Business Operations and Strategy, AEG Sports: ““Times are unpredictable, but with the (SAS and Microsoft) platform, we can adapt and thrive under any circumstances. We might not know what’s going to happen, but we know (we can respond to) any challenge we may face.”

SAS SVP and Head of Marketing, SAS, Jennifer Chase noted: “A fan experience with heart and humanity will inevitably lead to stronger fan connections, especially when fans recognize that their team understands their needs—in good or bad times.”