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9 Data Sources That Should Be Included in Your Fan Profiles

In this article, we discuss why rights holders need to develop data infrastructures that build out fan profiles and what data sources should be included.

“If you can’t explain it simply , then you don’t understand it.” - Albert Einstein

Sports fandom is not simple to explain.  The reasons why we root for teams, devote our time to following our favorite sports, or obsessively research for our fantasy lineups are not always straightforward answers.  They are often intertwined with the same complexities that define why we all are ourselves: our upbringings, families, communities, struggles, our triumphs and tragedies, those random moments and events that impact a lifetime...   

The answers to who fans are can often be uncovered if we look at the right outputs and present it in a manner that surfaces previously hidden truths.  Sports leaders know their fans are engaging with their preferred sports, teams, leagues and athletes in multiple contexts and across many platforms, both “in-real-life” and digitally.  While this presents new challenges to follow fans and build a complete picture of them, the benefits of discovering those unknowns can lead to deepening that fan’s affinity and earning a greater share of attention and wallet.  

One example of the complexity of sports fans is their media and entertainment device savviness.  Sports fans in particular are skilled managers of their entertainment consumption, at this point a necessary skill in an increasingly fragmented media landscape.  One example of this is the prevalence of multi-screen viewing.  According to Nielsen,  47% of sports fans watch sports on TV or digital platforms while simultaneously engaging in other activities such as playing games online or messaging with friends (compared to 33% of the general population).  For advanced sports organizations, the way they would engage with a fan that plays video games while watching live games is far different than the way they would communicate with a fan that attends the majority of home games.  But, in order to see those differences, there needs to be a reliable data infrastructure that collects, organizes, and displays fan interactions in a systematic and usable manner.  

Typically sports have unique data challenges to address when using 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data sources. Each is necessary for understanding the full spectrum of habits and behaviors of fans, delivering experiences that elevate their appreciation of sports, leagues, teams, and athletes they follow, and commercializing those interactions.  Whether fans are in the stadium, watching the main broadcast, or projecting their fandom across social channels, sports organizations can chart their data-driven future to guide their fan engagement strategies.  Crucially, they need to collect fan data and display it in easy-to-follow structures that enable them to use that history to re-engage with those fans in a deeply personalized manner.  To begin this journey, sports organizations must understand where fans are demonstrating their fandom and begin pulling in those attributes into individualized fan profiles.               


Sports Fan Data Sources

The following are 9 common attributes that teams, leagues and federations can be leveraging through their fan profiles:

Social Media Activity

Fans are projecting their fandom through their social profiles, and interacting directly with the larger fan community and the brands they follow across various social media channels.  

Benefit: Fans are social creatures.  By understanding their relationship with fans and the sports brand itself (through public interactions), sports organizations can deliver more personalized content and messaging that resonates with the fan’s reasons for being a fan.   


Website & Mobile App Engagement

Owned & operated platforms (O&Os), especially those regularly producing new content and experiences, can provide valuable insights into the entertainment value consumers get from the organization.  In addition there are vital activities that take place on O&Os that can identify pain points during transactions and guide further re-engagement opportunities.     

Benefit: Personalize content that is created for owned & operated and inform future content and experiences that resonate with the fan.  


Demographic Data

Basic demographic information for fans can provide key insights that inform marketing strategies for broader, awareness tactic campaigns.  

Benefit: Basic demographic information can provide key information used toward designing marketing strategies for broader, awareness tactic campaigns.  


Transaction Histories

Fans are making ticket, merchandise, food & beverage purchases both in and outside of the stadium across a range of contexts and platforms.  

Benefit: Smarter investments in marketing the experiences and products that resonate with specific cohorts of fans.    


Venue Attendance 

When are fans attending games? Who are they attending with?  When do they arrive and depart?  How often are they attending?  Where did they make their end purchase?….these are all important components to understand with every ticket transaction. 

Benefit: Greater understanding of fan behaviors for when they decide to attend games


Loyalty Program

Many teams and leagues are integrating a loyalty program across their different offerings to reward fans for their fandom and participation in team/league culture.  

Benefit: Integrating loyalty program history directly into fan profiles can provide key data toward quantifying their fandom, since it is a measure of engagements.  When designed effectively,  these programs can serve as an input toward developing proprietary scoring systems to measure loyalty and affinity of fans.  


Direct Fan Feedback -Questionnaires, Surveys & More

Clubs or teams, in particular, use surveys to inform many of their commercial strategies.  Whether questions are intended to measure fans’ evolving preferences, or their sponsorship recognition, surveys are a valuable research tool with measurability.  

Benefit: Centralizing survey responses for sports organizations to leverage across all departments can impact the tactics used from the partnerships team looking to create new sponsorable assets to customer engagement specialists looking to raise net promoter scores to ticket sales representatives trying to sell seats.   



Sports organizations are increasingly aware that the interest in their matches can be a resulting outcome of participating in gamified activities (fantasy, gaming, betting).  

Benefit: Some fans have a particular relationship with sports, one that may be led by a gamified component.   Teams and leagues that can identify when and how fans participate in gamified experiences can lead to new commercial opportunities and better managed marketing budgets.  


D2C Viewership

With direct to consumer platforms, teams and leagues have a greater opportunity to gather insights related to the habits and behaviors of fans consuming both live and on demand content.  

Benefit: Greater measurability of live game content viewership, the greatest driver of revenue for sports organizations currently.  Teams and leagues can identify key habits and behaviors of fans that are regularly watching live games, though creating the infrastructure to measure these viewings is much more difficult on non-owned & operated  platforms.  

To learn more about the data possibilities for your fan profiles, please reach out to us through our website’s contact form.