Data have long fueled the relationship between sports and their fans. Now, with Big Data tools enabling the collection and analysis of seemingly limitless types of sports-related information, the flow of sports data is poised to accelerate.
“If there’s data out there, I want it,” Christy King, vice president of IT for Ultimate Fighting Championship, said following a session at the recent On Deck West sports technology conference in San Francisco. “It’s really about becoming a mini-Google. Collect all the data, analyze it, and spit out something useful.”
For King and others who spoke at On Deck West, useful data are fast becoming a — pardon the expression — game-changer. And it’s not just about the fan anymore. The explosion of sports-related data targets everything from fan engagement to coaching decisions to venue management.
So, while King clearly wants to feed more data to fans — for instance, UFC is working on an app that could one day provide biometric data about fighters during matches — she also is thinking about how data can improve other aspects of the sports-viewing experience.
King told On Deck West attendees there’s no reason venues can’t use wireless networks to anonymously track fans as they move around an event, using the resulting data to, say, locate memorabilia concessionaires in the highest-traffic locations. Or let fans know via a venue mobile app which restrooms have the shortest lines.