Why the NFL is joining Big Data’s game

January 20, 2014

The National Football League is one of the most lucrative sports organizations, but like every other business, it has to ensure high customer retention. It may be one of the most successful sports organizations in the world, but now the NFL, in its attempt to increase fan attendance in stadiums across the league, has to compete with bars, internet providers and television networks.

The NFL’s challenge has a lot to do with the at-home experience, where Americans gather in one place to watch the game instead of going to the stadium. Collectively, the league’s 32 teams bring in about $1.17 billion, and the NFL is trying to beat the competition of staying at home with Big Data and implementing stadium Wi-Fi capabilities, CIO reported.

“Nothing can replace the immersive experience to be surrounded by fans,” NFL’s CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle told the source. “But the at-home experience has continued to get better and better and couch-gating has become very popular.”

One way the NFL is encouraging franchises to incorporate the at-home experience in the stadium is by implementing stadium Wi-Fi networks. This way, fans can grab and share information from their mobile devices faster, enabling them to recreate the experience they could have at home. Although this is not mandatory, the NFL hopes that franchises follow suit to allow them to better understand their targeted audience.

For example, the Super Bowl experiences different amounts of traffic throughout the game. While viewership may be higher during kickoff or the halftime show, t is unknown what devices they are using, or what type of activity goes on when traffic is slower. Data that is gathered by Super Bowl attendees may help explain how to make the Super Bowl more engaging. Doyle hopes to make the Super Bowl “the most social event” in the near future.

Because the NFL’s Big Data strategy is still in the early stages, it is likely that a more comprehensive plan will be rolled out for the 2014-2015 season. This year, Wi-Fi capabilities were only available at Lincoln Financial Field, Gillette Stadium and MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl.

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