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September 25, 2015

Infographic: Will Big Data Get Fans Off the Couch and Into the Stadium?

Matt Zajechowski

It’s no secret that analytics are everywhere. We can now measure everything, from exabytes of organizational “big data”  to smaller, personal information like your heart rate during a run. And when this data is collected, deciphered, and used to create actionable items, the possibilities, both for businesses and individuals, are virtually endless.

One area tailor-made for analytics is the sports industry. In a world where phrases like “America’s pastime” are thrown around and “the will to win” is revered as an intangible you can’t put a number on, stats lovers with PhDs in analytics are becoming more and more essential to sports franchises. Since the sabermetric revolution, sports franchises have begun investing time and money in using sports analytics from wearable technology to help their athletes train and even make more money from their stadiums.

Today, Sports Fans Prefer the Couch Over the Stadium

For decades, television networks have tried to create an at-home experience that’s on par with the stadium experience — and they’ve succeeded emphatically. In a 1998 ESPN poll, 54% of sports fans reported that they would rather be at the game than watch it at home; however, when that same poll was readministered in 2011 found that only 29% preferred being at the game.

While this varies by sport to some degree, the conclusion is clear: people would rather watch a game in the comfort of their own climate-controlled homes, with easy access to the fridge and a clean bathroom, than experience the atmosphere of the stadium in person. Plus, sports fans today want the ability to watch multiple games at once; it’s not unusual for diehard fans to have two televisions set up with different games on, plus another game streaming on a tablet.

However, fans could be persuaded to make their way back to the stadiums; 45% of “premium fans”(who always or often buy season tickets) would pay more money for a better in-person experience. That’s where wearable technology comes into play.

Here’s an infographic, developed by the Northwestern School of Professional Studies, that shows how big data analytics is used in today’s professional sports stadiums:


Infographic courtesy of Northwestern School of Professional Studies