Sports marketing and technology with the New England Patriots

Savvy fans have pushed professional sports to provide mobility, content, data, and analytics in an ongoing quest to engage more completely with the audience.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

The business of professional sports depends on a team’s ability to attract fans into seats but also generate licensing, merchandise, and concession revenues. In this day of the large-screen man cave, with all the comforts of home, teams must work even harder to create an appealing stadium experience.

Finding new ways to deepen fans' emotional engagement with the sports franchise has become a prime directive for teams. For this reason analytics, data, mobility, and network infrastructure are central to modern professional sports. 

Over last few months, I have met with senior marketing and technology folks from teams such as the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Yankees, and the German National Football Association. For all these organizations, the common thread is using technology to deepen relationship with fans.

During an appearance on CxOTalk, Fred Kirsch, Chief Digital Officer for the New England Patriots football team, and CIO Magazine staff writer, Lauren Brousell, described the Patriots almost fanatical commitment to fan relationships.

Since data collection and analysis are fundamental to engaging fans in the stadium, wireless infrastructure has become a priority for many teams, including the Patriots. The right infrastructure enables fans to connect easily on mobile devices, providing a foundation for team to use data and improve quality of life in the stadium.

Mobile apps provide information to fans while helping the team gather data, such as the type of content fans prefer, to fine-tune the stadium experience. Fred explained that fans bring their devices to the stadium and expect mobile, in-stadium experiences to complement the live action, pushing the team to find new ways of delivering unique mobile content during games.  

The following short clip shows highlights of the conversation with Fred and Lauren (you can see the entire show here): 

In the video clip above, Fred says, "Fans are our stakeholders and we are always looking to give them more value"; it is a customer-centric philosophy permeates the Patriot's design goals for interacting with fans. He continues with a statement about data and analytics: "Finding out what people want is easier when you find out what they do." 

Ultimately, every team wants to nurture an ongoing relationship, or daily conversation, that helps bridge the gap between fan and team. 

Also read:

CIO lessons from the Boston Celtics

Oklahoma City Thunder Uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Score with Season Ticket Holders

NFL Is Improving The Fan Experience, And The Patriots Are Leading The Way

Leadership Advice From An NBA Legend: Be A T.E.A.M. Player

Enterprise startup lessons from Muhammad Ali

Professional sports innovation: Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, and Bruins


CxOTalk is a video series that explores the relationship between technology and marketing in the enterprise. Each week, co-host Vala Afshar and I bring together innovative leaders and senior executives to discuss these issues in an informal, yet substantive conversation. Thank you to my colleague, Lisbeth Shaw, for helping develop this post and the summary video.

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