At the The Premier Business Leadership Series in Orlando, one of the speakers on a panel was Alex Martins, President of the NBA team Orlando Magic. As a huge Boston Celtics fan, I was very interested in hearing what Martins had to say.
Of course, it was also cool to meet Patrick Ewing, now a coach from the Magic, who joined one of the receptions. I’m on the left and Jim Bampos is on the right. Yes, Ewing is a very tall man!
Given that it was a SAS event, it’s no surprise that Martins spoke a lot about how the Orlando Magic are using data. Here are some of the tidbits:
- The Magic’s mission is to be “world champions on and off the court, delivering legendary moments every step of the way.” Martins was proud that the organization provides highly competitive compensation so that “talent wants to work for us.”
- Martins sees that they compete for the entertainment dollars of families, so they need to pinpoint the needs and desires of those people. It has been a “mom and pop” business since it was purchased by the DeVos family in 1991.
- The organization started to actively collect customer data about six years ago; tapping into Ticketmaster, fan intercept surveys, and season ticket holder surveys.
- As Martins said, tickets to see the Milwaukee Bucks midweek are not the same value as seeing the Miami Heat over the weekend. Now the Magic use SAS to optimize the ticket prices based on demand for each game. Their franchise has the 5th highest revenues even though it’s in the 20th largest market. He said that they don’t need to push excess tickets at the end of the season because they price them appropriately from the beginning.
- As an example, tickets for the least desirable games start at $10 while those same seats at the most popular games cost $110.
- The Magic was one of the first ticketless teams in the league. Season ticket holders get a card that they use throughout the stadium. This gives them a lot of data about what people buy (food, souvenirs) which allows them to make targeted offers. For instance, they often will do “random acts of kindness” which might mean bringing a season ticket holder ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery if that fan regularly buys from there.
- He discussed how there’s a ton of insight in unstructured conversations, especially in social. The Magic have the 3rd highest Twitter following in sports behind the Lakers and Manchester United.
The bottom line: Data can be useful on and off the court.