Case Study

A Play by Play: Understanding the Sports Fan Journey

Jun 14, 2022


Sports event hosts have successfully enhanced stadium fans' overall experience and engagement by addressing issues that were uncovered through a panel of carefully selected respondents.

The Challenge

Due to rising competition from improved at-home viewing options, sports event hosts have noticed a decline in stadium attendance across multiple leagues. To increase ticket sales and boost in-stadium purchases, they must first thoroughly understand the fan's journey. This encompasses all decisions, actions, and interactions that take place from the purchase of tickets to the return ride home.

The challenge is to collect real-time fan input when the fan's thoughts and feelings are most authentic – enabling event hosts to obtain a complete picture of the sports fan experience as well as identify any pain points that should be improved upon.

Of course, any undertaking to better understand the fan journey concerning the new sports and entertainment paradigm will require a comprehensive study design to recruit the fans and identify the appropriate areas of concern. This would ideally involve the fan experience stakeholders, the marketing and research specialists of the venue, and/or an independent research agency with experience in event analysis.

What We Delivered

This challenge was solved by Civicom Marketing Research Services, a global provider of digital tools for the qualitative research industry. Civicom combines technical expertise with optimized technology to deliver better insights to researchers — regardless of whether the fan is at home, in transit, or at the venue.

Civicom's CiviSelect™ recruiting team set out to find the right respondents among audiences from all major sporting leagues across the nation: MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, and the WNBA. The first group was comprised of casual fans who had rarely been to a live sporting event but would consider attending another. The second group consisted of fans who loved the league and had attended a game at most twice in the last two years. Lastly, the third group included sports fanatics who had gone to five or more live sporting events within the previous two years. To better understand the external and the internal drivers in respondent preferences, the client included additional criteria to broadly represent the population across age, gender, income, and ethnicity.

Once the quota of participants had been met, respondents made use of the ThoughtLight® mobile app on their phones to document and share in-the-moment feedback on their stadium experience. This included buying tickets, preparing to leave for the game, traveling, going through security, quality of seats, experience with the bathrooms/vendors/arena staff, and leaving the game venue.

Afterward, post-game focus groups were facilitated online through Civicom CyberFacility® to dig deeper into respondent feedback. Participants also discussed in-depth the positives and pain points in their journey. Through curation tools in Glide Central, the end result delivers the voice of the fan (VOC) directly to those driving the fan experience and commitment.

Value-Driven Outcomes

Researchers were able to generate fairly strong conclusions about the motivating factors behind attending a live sporting event from fans at various points in their life cycle. Through common threads in the results, they were also able to pinpoint and address issues that could negatively affect or disrupt the overall event perception. These insights helped event hosts make actionable decisions and investments that ultimately lead to satisfied fans who are more emotionally connected to the team – increasing not only fan loyalty but also business results.

All this started with choosing the right provider. Civicom® Marketing Research Services made project success possible by delivering excellent qualitative research tools and unparalleled support.

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