By Geoff De Weaver CEO & Founder of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.


In part two of my article entitled ‘BIG DATA + BIG IDEAS = BIG IMPACT IN SPORTS MARKETING’, I will continue to talk about a number of leading brands that are accelerating their investments in big data to deliver winning strategies in Sports Marketing with: Big Data and Analytics with a huge creative idea. Importantly, Big data has the power to provide insights and transparency to fans and sports fanatic globally.

As Super Bowl 50 is still fresh in our minds, I would like to highlight more information on some of the latest news emanating out of this classic annual event and more.

NFL and Big Data and Analytics

NFL has been crunching big data before the term even existed, and I think that move alone, is the reason why the NFL is a dominant force in US Sports. The NFL was an early adopter and their 32 teams have benefited from this visionary move. Mining the data and using analytics has totally transformed how NRL teams have improved scouting, education, and preparation for meeting an opposing team. Best yet, their fans and ‘arm chair’ quarterbacks love all the stats and the depth of information big data can provide, from pass completions and turnovers through to yards gained running/throwing, etc.

Some of the key analytics that NFL teams now use include:

  • Financial analytics – cash flow, profitability, sales forecasts
  • Market analytics – market size, market trends, marketing channels
  • Customer analytics – customer lifetime values, social media, customer needs
  • Employee analytics – capacity, performance, leadership
  • Operational analytics – supply chains, competencies, environmental impact
  • Bare business analytics – sentiments, text, correlations, player stats, league leaders, game highs, player bios, coaching information, player tracking and more.

The NFL recently announced a deal with tech firm Zebra to install Radio-frequency identification (RFID) data sensors in players’ shoulder pads in all NFL’s arenas.  The chips collect detailed location data on each player, and from that data, things like player acceleration and speed can be recorded AND analyzed.

The NFL plans to make the data available to fans and teams, but not during game play. The thought is that statistics-mad fans will jump at the chance to consume more data about their favorite players and teams.

In the future, this type of data collection might be expanded. In last year’s Pro Bowl, sensors were installed in the footballs to show exactly how far they were thrown.

Interestingly, the football video game “Madden NFL” uses more than 60 data points on each individual player to power its game simulations, including information about injuries.  At the end of the regular season, the engineers input the new data about the competing teams and run a final simulation.

The third biggest TV audience in history tuned in to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi Stadium, San Francisco. And for the 71,000+ fans who were inside Levi’s Stadium, it was a record-breaking day for sharing, posting, Tweeting, streaming and more over the free in-stadium Wi-Fi.

More than 10 Terabytes of data were uploaded and downloaded on the network within the stadium during the day. That’s a staggering amount of data, equal to streaming 6,000+ hours of HD video (more than 8 months worth) or almost 1.2 Million 2-megabyte images. A lot of that volume was generated by the free Super Bowl 50 Stadium app – which allows fans to order food, watch the Super Bowl commercials and replays, and check lines.

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The NFL is working hard to modernize players’ and fans’ in-stadium experience with big data, sensors, video and analytics.

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The Blue Angels fly over Levi’s Stadium before the start of Super Bowl 50.

Additionally, here are the 10 moments that generated the most data traffic at the stadium (all blockbuster events):

  • The introduction of the 50 Super Bowl MVPs
  • Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem and the Blue Angels flyover
  • The official kick-off
  • The first coach’s challenge
  • Von Miller’s forced fumble and the first touchdown of the game by Malik Jackson
  • The halftime show with Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars 
  • Von Miller’s second forced fumble and C.J. Anderson’s game-sealing touchdown
  • Peyton Manning exiting the field and Gary Kubiak’s Gatorade shower
  • The Lombardi Trophy presentation
  • Using apps to get back home and to hotels

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Some Wi-Fi access points are underneath the seats at Levi’s Stadium the site of Super Bowl 50

Today, the combination of high speed Internet, mobile, sensors, cloud, social media marketing, streaming, high-definition cameras and high-powered data analytics are replacing human statisticians and scouts to give NFL coaches — and many fantasy league fans — an edge when it comes to predicting the score of the game and the performance of athletes.

Big Data for major sporting organizations and brands:

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer real-time analytics. E-commerce sites also deal with a lot of data, and the volume and velocity of such sites only expanding and this fuels the necessity to better understand and use Big Data. This is especially for major sporting organizations and brands today such as: Nike FuelBand, Fitbit, Garmin VivoFit, Under Armour, Adidas, Jawbone UP2, Microsoft Band 2, Misfit Flash and many others.

Among wearable fitness apps, Fitbit and Jawbone have consistently ranked ahead of Nike+ FuelBand and other wearable fitness apps in the marketplace.

In fact, through the innovation of Nike Plus, Nike has made an engaging platform where runners can interact with each other, share their data and learn from the insights derived from it. Since its launch in 2006, the platform has built a user based of over 7 million runners (Big Data Startups, 2013). They use the data from each of their subscribers to track consumer behavior and buying habits, as well as social trends all on a readable data interface.

Pro and college teams (and some major high schools) are also using so-called big data and machine learning algorithms that analyze a game by reviewing images of each player’s activity taken over 25 times per second. Big data and analytics programs and solutions have dramatically helped sports teams and athletes to improve their performance as well as the relationship with their fans.

Nowadays, a sophisticated system of data gathering, metrics and analytics lies behind some of the world’s biggest sporting teams, i.e. the NFL, NHL, NBA, Soccer and many Colleges. In fact, if anything, the use of big data and analytics is accelerating dramatically. The use of data and statistics to gain a ‘competitive advantage’ is the key reason why this information is so hot.

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Gatorade: hydration, redesigned – digital innovation meets the beverage industry

With immense competition in recent years Gatorade slipped in market-share and was seen more as ‘hangover’ remedy than a high performance drink or elixir. So Gatorade started testing big data with its Gatorade’s new ‘smart cap’ bottle, which reveals every sip their athletes, teams and players are consuming. Gatorade feels that if they want to be considered on the elite level of sports brands, they must compete with Nike, Under Armour, VitaminWater, Red Bull and others.

Gatorade has long been the sports hydration leader for elite professional athletes. But, the trend (since circa 2009) of turning to sports nutrition and product customization for a competitive advantage presented a unique opportunity for Gatorade and its sports science research group, Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). Gatorade and have designed individual bottles to a digital linked to a player to exactly see how much he sweats in practice and games, to ensure they are performing with maximum impact. Keep your eyes out on this trend.

Nike a powerhouse in Digital Big Data and Social Media Marketing 

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Nike is one of the global marketing powerhouses that have spearheaded sports marketing. They also take digital and social media marketing very seriously. Nike established Digital Sport, a new division for the sports giant in 2010. Now this global sports company, is aiming to go further by developing new devices and technologies that allow sports users to track their data: personal statistics in any sport activity in which they participate. This effort is part of a comprehensive global marketing approach that integrates the power of tech, big data and social media marketing various 360 degrees channels.

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So far Nike’s Digital Sport division best-known product is the Nike+ running sensor, the blockbuster performance-tracking tool developed with Apple (AAPL). And some 7 plus million runners now log on to Nike (NKE) to check their performance. The company Digital Sport also released its first major follow-up product, a wristband that tracks energy output called the FuelBand.

Digital Sport is not just about creating ‘must-have’ sports gadgets but getting closer to their consumers’. The data they area able to collect holds exceptional promise for one of the world’s greatest marketers. It means they can follow their customers and, build an online community for them, and forge a tighter relationship with them than ever before. And, market globally.

It’s part of a bigger, broader effort to shift the bulk of Nike’s marketing efforts into the digital and social realm — and it marks the biggest change in Beaverton since the creation of just do it, or even since a graphic design student at Portland State University put pen to paper and created the Swoosh.

Stay passionate and play BIG!


More about Geoff De Weaver:

Geoff De Weaver Oct 2015

Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur and marketer, technology disruptor, trend hunter, transformation expert, author, keynote speaker and CEO of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.

Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:




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