Thinking of fans as customers: ARU’s data journey – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 22nd April 2014

Peter Robert Casey wants you to track your stadium journey

All 5 Boston sports teams send the same heartwarming tweet at the same time

Thinking of fans as customers: Australian Rugby Union’s data journey

The best sports deal ever - Spirits of St Louis finally cash out

NRL clubs set new membership records

Phishers hijack EA sports Twitter to steal user details

AT&T’s DAS & Wi-Fi network traffic for Final Four hits multiple Terabit levels

Should Twitter or its investors care about all the people who never tweet?

How wearable technology will change sports

Melbourne wins top sports city gong

A major shift in podcast consumption

Can trading cards shift to digital?

Amazon paying its staff to quit - interesting approach

Pharrell sobs tears of joy while watching the world dance to “Happy” (video)


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SGP 046: A-League Finals with Brian Gibson & Peter Robert Casey tracking your fan story

Brian Gibson runs Social Media for A-Leagues discusses #ALeagueFinalsJust before taking off on European Sports Geek Trip I was lucky enough to host a small sports business networking event thanks to Robert Squillacioti from FFA as Melbourne Victory faced Sydney FC in an elimination final at Etihad Stadium.  A great night was had by all in attendance and I caught up with Brian Gibson who drives social media for the FFA about their plans for #ALeagueFinals.  I also catch up with good friend & sports Twitter trailblazer Peter Robert Casey about his new projects to log your fan stadium journey.


Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • What the A-League is doing with Instagram to develop the fan story
  • How much A-League fans love inforgraphics
  • Why this year every Australian will know what is happening inside Socceroos camp and in Brazil
  • How Peter Robert Casey broke the mould in sports journalism using Twitter
  • How you can keep track of every NBA or MLB game you’ve attended
  • How MLB fans differ from NBA fans

Resources from the episode

@SportsGeek Asks

Sports Geek Podcast Listener Survey

Help me improve this podcast, I need your feedback.

Thanks for reviews on iTunes

Enter Sports Geek Podcast Listener Survey


See you at Digital Sport London

Thanks to Dan McLaren from UK Sports Network (and guest on ep #38) for inviting me to #DSLondon on April 22, looking forward to meeting some #sportsbiz people on my trip.  Grab a ticket and I’ll see you there.

See you at Digital Sport London on April 22

Listening via iTunes?

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Retired NBA player not broke, now worth $400M – ICYMI – @Sports Geek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 16th April 2014

AFL Variable Ticket Pricing ExplainedHow the Red Sox social strategy won Washington

Instead Of Going Broke Like Most Retired NBA Players, Junior Bridgeman Built A $400 Million Fast Food Empire

Stadiums race to digitize: how sports teams are scrambling to keep Milllenials coming to games

Coming to your Twitter feed: 15 new types of ads

Fan memberships growing in the United States

Facebook, if you’re serious about privacy controls, let me control them

LinkedIn introduces ‘Content Marketing Score’ to help B2Bs measure their content efforts

Twitter now lets you easily search for tweets by date range

News Feed FYI: Cleaning up news feed spam and more Facebook changes on the way

How 20 popular websites looked when they launched

Talkin’ like Talls with Dikembe Mutombo

Game of Footy Thrones - AFL footy 2014

The Psychology of Language: which words matter most when we talk

Anyone got a time machine? Great sale at Venture on footy gear!

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SGP 045: A look into @AFL variable pricing strategy

AFL Variable Ticket Pricing ExplainedVariable pricing, why are sports around the world doing it and why is it confusing fans?  In a different Sports Geek Podcast I break down the AFL variable pricing for MCG and Etihad.


Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • What is variable pricing
  • What is will cost you to go to a game at MCG and Etihad this AFL season
  • Pricing is a process not a project
  • What part demand plays in variable and dynamic pricing
  • Importance of moving up value with price increases
  • Which big guest will be on next episode of Beers, Blokes & Business.

Resources from the episode

Sports Geek explains Variable Pricing

Bonus animated gifs…

MCG AFL 2014 Ticket Pricing

MCG AFL Variable Pricing in animated gif

Etihad Stadium AFL 2014 Ticket Pricing

Etihad Stadium AFL Variable Pricing

@SportsGeek Asks


Sports Geek Podcast Listener Survey

Help me improve this podcast, I need your feedback.

Thanks for reviews on iTunes

Enter Sports Geek Podcast Listener Survey


See you at Digital Sport London

Thanks to Dan McLaren from UK Sports Network (and guest on ep #38) for inviting me to #DSLondon on April 22, looking forward to meeting some #sportsbiz people on my trip.  Grab a ticket and I’ll see you there.

See you at Digital Sport London on April 22

Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your networks.  Thanks in advance.

On SoundCloud?

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Podcast transcription

Welcome to the SportsGeek podcast, episode 45. On this week’s podcast, I’m going to look at variable pricing. The AFL have brought it in for the 2014 season, and why are fans so confused? I’m going to break it down. And we’ll look at the different options they’ve gone with.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the SportsGeek podcast. The podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host who knows sports is a 24/7 business, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from SportsGeek, and you’re listening to the SportsGeek podcast. This is episode 45. If you haven’t listened before, you can always check out previous episodes at You can link to it at the episode guide, and see the previous 44 episodes, and also check out the guests that we’ve had on the podcast.

I’m not having a guest this week. I’m going to dive into a topic that’s doing the rounds, especially here in Melbourne. But it is one that does span the continents, and around the sports world. And that is ticket pricing, variable pricing and dynamic pricing. We discussed pricing previously with my good mate Jon Manning on episode 39 of the SportsGeek podcast. If you ever want to brush up on all things pricing, definitely follow Jon Manning @sansprix on Twitter.

But listen to episode 39 of the SportsGeek podcast to listen to more about the pricing strategies. And also episode 21 where we discuss how the LA Clippers explain variable and dynamic pricing. So why is variable pricing such a big topic at the moment? Primarily, it’s because the AFL has brought in variable pricing. First of all, I will get through a bit of a definition. There will be show notes and there will be a slide presentation. I’m going to add a slide show to Slideshare for this topic, because I think it needed words and the pictures.

So first of all, a definition of variable pricing. Variable pricing is sometimes called tiered pricing. It allows teams to set or entertainment venues, comedians, musicians and the like, to set different prices for the same seat depending on the time of day or the time of the game, or the popularity of the opponent. And so you set these before the season begins.

The goal is to drive demand for certain games with low prices and maximize ticket revenue for the high demand games with high ticket prices. That’s what the AFL has done this season by categorizing all the games ahead of the season by categorizing them as an A, a B, or a C game. If you look at the slides in the show notes, and that’ll be at, this being episode 45, what I’ve done is I’ve broken down both the MCG and Etihad Stadium. Both being the two stadiums here in Melbourne that support all the Melbourne teams.

And so just breaking down the MCG, there’s 13 A games, 14 B games, and 16 C games. And you can see there from the slides the leaders in each one, and how the categories are broken down. And how different price levels are. The main difference is they’ve created different categories, more categories in the A games. There’s up to seven categories. They’ve really broken down those upper decks to try to provide cheaper tickets.

It’s actually quite surprising with the MCG. The cheapest ticket for an adult, its $25 and they don’t actually have that $25 price point for the B and the C game. So just going through, that was a little bit strange. So the classifications are A, B, and C. the high demand match, the medium demand match, and the C match. You can see from the slides which teams are getting the A games and the B games, and a quick look at the attendance so far. Because what the reports have been, and the media has sort of jumped all over it, is that there has been a large discrepancy or a large drop in attendances.

If we just look at some of the key games that happened at the MCG so far this year, Carlton-Richmond normally opened the season to a big crowd, down 18,000. Collingwood-Geelong only down three and a half thousand. Essendon-Carlton down 19,000. Richmond-Collingwood down 19,000. So 19,000 people, and there’s three games there that have lost almost 60,000 fans, is a big, big drop. Now it could be blamed for the ticket prices and the fact that they’ve gone up. It could be blamed on confusion. It could be blamed on the late scheduling and those kind of things. But it is something that the AFL will be looking at hard.

I think one of the things that I wanted to point out, because I didn’t want to just be a, this is a stupid thing and they shouldn’t have variable pricing. Jon Manning, one of his key phrases and one of his key rules in pricing is a
price is a process, not a project.

So it will be something that the AFL will have to refine over time. But I think where the flaw potentially is, is the fact that variable pricing and to a lesser extent dynamic pricing. Dynamic price, if I give you a quick definition of that, dynamic pricing is the pricing that you see for airline tickets. And the fact that that ticket price goes up and down depending on the demand and how soon the flight takes off, and those kind of things.

So if you get a ticket well in advance you’ll get a cheaper ticket. If you buy it at the last minute, you’ll pay more. So that’s dynamic pricing. But one of the key things that is required for variable pricing to work, and I had a really good discussion with some friends on my Facebook feed about this from Australia, New Zealand and the US talking about the idea of variable pricing. Variable pricing currently exists in the pro sports in the States, and now bringing it into Australia. And if you do a Google search for variable pricing affecting attendance, you can see articles related to the AFL this season. And then if you look a couple years back, there’ll be MLB articles and MBA articles. So it’s a constant, as Jon said, a constant process, not necessarily a project.

But at the moment, my fear for the AFL is that there isn’t the demand. We live in a city that has the MCG, one of the best stadiums from mine, in the world, can seat nearly up to 100,000 people. So there’s always capacity. There’s always capacity for people to walk up on the night and buy a ticket. The AFL has spent the last 15 to 20 years moving everybody to becoming members, and that’s how a lot of people have now trained their thinking on, I’m a member of my team Collingwood, and I have a reserved seat. All that thing.

But there’s no real requirement for fans to purchase a ticket, because they know with a stadium that seats 98,000 or thereabouts, there is availability for the ticket. So that’s one of the things. Demand is a key thing. You must have that underlying level of demand so you can manipulate the price. And one of the things Jon in our conversation was talking about; you can manipulate the price around the inventory you’ve got. And it’s a revenue optimization tool. And that’s the thing. It’s about maximizing revenue for high demand games with the high ticket prices.

And so one of the things that I did find going through the numbers, and going through the different price categories for the games at the MCG and Etihad was that the prices only varied from the lower tiers. There was no variance in the category one tickets. The category one tickets in the MCG are $60 for a reserve seat for an adult, and $62 for a reserve seat at Etihad for the best seats in the house. Those tickets did not go up. Whether it was a blockbuster game, Essendon-Collingwood A, same price as GWS and Richmond, which was a C category game.

So that was a little bit strange. The other thing that was a little bit strange was the categories didn’t quite match up from a price-point point of view. So for an A game for the MCG, they had seven price points trying to offer a variable price for all the different types of fans. And the lowest band, category seven, you can get into the game for $25, but that $25 price point isn’t available for B and C games.

So I thought that was a little bit strange. One of the things that I did talk with Jon about, and one of the key tendencies, he says with pricing rules, is moving the price and the value up and down together. And I think that’s where currently the AFL hasn’t brought the value along with the price. So the price has gone up over the past couple of years, but the value has not lifted along with that price. Now this isn’t meant to be a stadium bashing podcast.

But the things that need to lift, and there’s been plenty inches of articles written. I saw Eddie McGuire wrote an editorial piece in the Herald Sun saying that the value, the entertainment value, and the access for fans at the stadium and the whole fan experience has to lift if the AFL is going to lift those prices. So the thing is, variable pricing is not a new concept, as I’ve said. It’s used in pro sports over in the States. It causes just as much consternation and angst amongst the fans in what they’re trying to do. But the thing is, it is a process overall that they have to keep looking at.

So the main thing that I fear, and if you look at the slides and the way that the ground has been reconfigured for an A and a B game, and I think is really stark. When they had an A game at Etihad Stadium this year. The Bulldogs-Richmond. Which was supposedly a high demand game. And I was watching the game on TV, and it looked like no one was there. And that’s because via the TV, you could only see level one. And the level one was quite sparse.

And there’s a picture a friend of mine took from level three. Level three is chockablock. And so what’s happened is obviously, fans wanting to go to the game didn’t want to pay that extra price for that category two ticket. And the category two ticket is that first level, ground level ticket. And that was $52 for an adult. Whereas sitting in the category four or category five in the top tier was only $36 or $25, so that’s a big, big difference, especially if it’s two adults and those kinds of things. They have family tickets.

But what seems to have happened, at least in this game in the small sample size and everything, fans have decided, well that’s what I can afford. I’m moving up. So it doesn’t look great on TV with an empty lower stadium, but that is going to be something where the process needs to be worked on, and seeing exactly what is right for fans. The other thing that is of concern especially to me as a member. So as a member, and the AFL have done a terrific job and the clubs have done a terrific job in signing up fans as members. And this is one where I’ve spoken to my mum who’s a lifelong Richmond supporter. She’s got a general admission ticket.

So that gets her into every Richmond home game. But what has been happening more and more has been this concept of it’s now a fully ticketed game. So games have been changed to say, it’s a high demand game. You have to purchase a ticket. So that is another thing that’s affecting fans in the fact that they have bought a ticket, it’s going to get them in, but now they have to pay extra to upgrade their general admission to a reserve seat ticket.

And so as that happens more and more, and if there is more and more of that type of change of circumstance for the fan, then it might have a detrimental effect on that traditional 11-game general admission ticket. So one of the things that I would be looking at if I was the AFL is making sure that there always is general admission tickets available for fans. Even if it is a set amount. But there is a real concern with the ticket prices going up.

And it is a worldwide trend. It’s not just Australia, speaking to people around the world. Getting fans, getting bums on seats. Getting fans in the stadium is a constant concern. And there’s a concern around the world, as people can watch it at home. On the TV In the comfort of their home.

Or in a hotel or in a pub watching it with cheaper beer. So one of the things that gets cluttered in this kind of conversation, and it’s very easy to say the crowds are down, it’s on the pricing. There’s multiple things that affect crowds. Pricing is one of them. The cost of the whole experience. So cost of food at the venue, parking and those kind of things. When you add all those things up it does become an expensive day. So there are some of the things that need to be looked at. But one of the things I think the AFL missed the mark in the fact that I’ve been talking about this for the last couple of weeks on my radio spots.

They didn’t quite inform the fan well enough on why the changes came about, and what the prices were, and how they were explained. So there was a lot of explanation after the crowds were down about variable pricing. And it is very confusing to fans when they first get started. So have a look at the deck there, and the show notes. It breaks down both Etihad and the MCG. So if you’re wondering how much it’s going to cost for where you’re going to sit, you can dive in there and see where there might be some quirky little hacks.

Check on different parts of the ground. Especially the ones that are moving about depending on what game it is. So if you’re on a particular section, it will go up and down depending on where you want to sit for that game. So the main thing is, is that going to work? Are crowds going to be down overall for the AFL? And that is of concern. So it’s one thing.

So I’d like to have your feedback. One, what do you think? What have your experiences been in variable pricing? There is talk, again, in articles from Darren Birch at the AFL saying they will be experimenting with dynamic pricing. Again, I think that’s a flawed strategy without the demand. Dynamic pricing works when you have a full stadium and you have more demand than you have supply. And that’s the problem they don’t have in Melbourne. Now, dynamic pricing may work in stadiums that are full. So it might work down in Geelong where they’re getting a full stadium. It might work in Adelaide Oval, and it might work at West Coast and in West Australia where they’ve got a full stadium.

So that’s one thing that they want to be looking at. I was quite surprised that Andrew Demetriou came out and effectively blamed the fans for not showing up. I don’t think that’s the right approach, but I do think they need to be more sophisticated. Because primarily we’ve got this large membership base. And if they’re not showing up, well where’s the value for the fan?

And I really look to guys like the San Francisco Giants who brought in their own ticket reselling platform. If you can’t go to a game as an AFL club member, then it’s very hard for you to give your ticket to someone else. Now you have purchased that ticket, whether it be an 11-game reserve seat ticket, or an 18-game ticket.

So I’ve got myself as the example. Last year as you know, I tore my Achilles, and I was unable to attend about six games in the middle of the season because I was in a moon boot and wasn’t able to go to a game. Potentially at the end of the season, I could have said, oh it wasn’t worth me going to the games. I didn’t go to them all, I didn’t get the value for money. And so I think that’s something that they really should be looking at and enforcing that that’s available to all clubs, and not just clubs that are at capacity. We are seeing some teams use that. It’s very similar to what the San Francisco Giants did when they decided not to sell mini plans, and pretty much kept everyone on full season tickets.

And rather than getting people on the mini plans, they pretty much said we’re going to provide you an infrastructure to make sure you get the best value you can out of your full season ticket. So Giants fans can quite easily send their tickets to friends, colleagues via the Giants’ own ticketing reseller platform. So the West Coast Eagles currently do that. Fans can put it back into the pool, and so can the Essendon football club at Etihad, because they’ve pretty much got a fully ticketed stadium. I think if I was the AFL, I would be looking at innovations like that to make it more valuable for the member, getting more people in.

Yes, it is a loss in revenue potentially because the fan that comes along is not buying a general admission ticket, but it does provide more core value to the fan. Whereas this unfortunately is seen as the other way. And it won’t stop the fact that there will be those empty seats if those members aren’t turning up. So I think there’s some of the things. Like I said, a little bit of a different podcast. Look at the show notes for a breaking down of how variable pricing works for the MCG and the Etihad. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve done in the pricing space.

Some other good resources like I’ve already said, Jon Manning is an absolute pricing expert. And if you’ve seen anything that he’s done, both in episode 39 of this podcast, and he’s also been on Troy Kirby’s Tao of Sports a couple of times talking about the pricing process. And so then like I said at the start, I’m looking at different formats for the SportsGeek podcast, and I’d really love your feedback. I’m trying to make it a little bit more lightweight, a little bit less structured, and a little bit less rigid.

And one of the main reasons is over the next five weeks, I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling. I will be doing a little bit of work, a little bit of leisure, a little bit of both. But I still want to get this podcast out. So I’ll be still mostly focusing on securing interviews. So if you do know anybody in London or Madrid. I hopefully will be catching up with the guys at Real Madrid when I’m there. Barcelona and Rome is where I’ll be heading on my trip. I will be at Digital Sport London on April 22nd. Thanks to Dan McClaren for the invite.

I’m looking forward to catching up with some people from the UK in different sports fields, in the sports industry. You can grab a ticket if you are in the UK by going to It’ll send you to the Eventbrite site to grab a ticket.

So the next couple of weeks I will be hopefully putting out a podcast relatively weekly, hopefully with a few interviews. I may pause those interviews and do them when I get back after meeting with people. But I really want your feedback on what you want for the next year’s worth of SportsGeek podcasts.

Whether it be who you want me to interview, what you want me to cover. Do you like something like this where I dive into a topic or do a tutorial? That kind of thing. Or do you prefer the short, sharp interviews diving in, talking to people at the coalface and what they’re trying to do? Like I said, this is your podcast if you’re listening to it. That’s the reason I’m building it. I’m building it for you guys and girls, anyone who’s listening. I’d just really love to know more about what you’re doing. One of the things that I’m doing to help that, and getting some feedback, is via a survey. If you go to, it’s a SportsGeek podcast listener survey.

I just want to know what you’ve listened to, get an idea of what you do as a job function, and then what kind of segments are you looking for, and how do you rate the current ones.

Currently I’ve got interviews with sports executives, people in the sports IT industry, in the sports technology industry, my opinion on the latest news and trends, the segments from radio with Grandstand, with Francis Leach and Daniel Hartford. They have used social media posts of the week, sounds of the game, closing two cents, those kind of things. I’m sort of freelancing for this episode, so I’d really appreciate your feedback. Give me an idea of where you work, and also what motivates you to listen to an episode. Is it a particular guest? Did you listen to the episode with Josh Tucker because you’re a big Dodgers fan and you want to know what’s happening with major league? Or is it really a topic?

And if it’s a CRM topic, is that why you listen? Also, give me some feedback on the show notes themselves. Is it something you read, do you go and check them and that’s why you listen? I’d really like some feedback on that. And then the other part, I’m also putting it out there. If you want to appear on SportsGeek podcasts, I really want to talk to sports digital marketers. Sports business executives that have got a story to tell, got a cool campaign, take us through a case study.

If you don’t want to nominate yourself, please nominate people that you want to hear from. And that’s at So that clock ticking, I think I’m going to keep the clock ticking, I like the clock ticking, tells me that it’s time to dedicate this episode and get out of the podcast. This episode has been episode 45. So you can get the show notes at I haven’t done too much research for this. I’ve been exceptionally busy getting ready for my European holiday. So for 45, I’m going to dedicate this to Michael Jordan who was 45 when he was playing baseball and when he came back.

So he’s going to have the distinction of having two podcasts dedicated to him, and he is the greatest of all time, so I’m okay with that. So that wraps up another episode of SportsGeek podcasts. My name is Sean Callanan, and you can send me a tweet @SeanCallanan anytime. Please let me know if you’re listening, what your thoughts are. And please if you can finish up that survey, One more thing. Coming out tomorrow now, I’ll be finishing up this podcast and then finishing up the next podcast. If you haven’t listened to Beers, Blokes and Business, which is another podcast that I’ve been doing. That’s actually been taking up a bit of time as we’ve queued up five episodes, for the next five weeks.

We’ve had a really special guest, and I’ve spoken about him before. Wil Anderson is an Australian comedian, a really smart and savvy guy. And we talked to him about the business of comedy. And there’s some really good insights into what he does, how he engages his fans and how he uses social media that I think is absolutely tremendous for the sports industry.

He spoke at Twitter Brekkie back in 2012 for me, and had both everyone laughing and also thinking at the same time. So that will be coming out Monday. If you go to to find out how to subscribe. But if you just go: you can subscribe straightaway. And really, there’s a few topics in there that might be of interest to you.

That’s it for me.

As I said, I’m going to change up these podcasts over the next couple weeks while I’m away. Some of them may be shorter, some of them may be longer. Some of them may have interviews. But trust me, my plan is to get a few episodes out while I’m in Europe. And additionally, if you’re in Europe and you would like to catch up for a coffee or a beer or a wine, or whatever you would like, I’d love to catch with you. And I’m looking forward to catching up with the people I’ve already got meetings set up with, and bringing you some great content coming from the trip. So that’s it for me. Cheers.


DJ Joel: Check out which teams work with SportsGeek at

Listen to Beers Blokes and Business at Go to for more sports digital marketing resources. Thanks for listening to the SportsGeek podcast.

Analysis of NBA Stadium wi-fi and fans – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 9th April 2014

Premier League: How NBC Sports got soccer fans out of bed

Coming to Your Twitter Feed: 15 New Types of Ads

Red Bull Media House trials second screen participation TV for football fans

Which MLB teams overperform in popularity?

American owners oversee a soccer renaissance in Rome

Manchester City becomes first Premier League Club to introduce free Wi-Fi throughout the stadium

Stadium tech report: Is the NBA the stadium Wi-Fi winner?

Facebook Ads vs Google Ads - Jim Stewart tries some of the tricks from Sports Geek ODE

23 years with Quicksilver, here is how they say goodbye to Kelly Slater - “See you in the lineup Kelly Slater”

Australia’s first professional Instagrammer, Lauren Bath, shares her secrets for career success

How much does it cost to propose in each MLB ballpark?

Lorde – “Royals” Parody for Kansas City

See you in London

See you at Digital Sport London

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LeBron James invites HS basketball player with cancer to pre-game warmups – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

Josh Tucker Dodgers Social Media Manager #ITFDB

 In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 2nd April 2014

LeBron James invites HS basketball player with cancer to pre-game warmups

Instagram announces 6x Growth since Facebook takeover

Twitter losing sight of what makes it so great - the Tweetbook?

Whatever’s best for the people, that’s what we do - good insight into Facebook news feed

AFL club bosses urge the league to review the controversial variable pricing ticket system

Facebook algorithim tweaks hurt viral sites more than any other publishers

Junk food and alcohol exposure more prevalent during sports broadcasts than advertising, study finds

A person with an hour commute has to earn 40% more to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office - The secrets of the world’s happiest cities

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SGP 044: Josh Tucker from LA Dodgers & AJ Maestes on sports social media fans

Josh Tucker Dodgers Social Media Manager #ITFDBBeen a busy few weeks at Sports Geek, last weekend at the SCG I caught up with LA Dodgers Social Media Manager Josh Tucker who was in town for Opening Series.  AJ Maestes from Navigate Research for a chat about his study into sports and social media fans.


Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • How Josh manages Twitter and engages Dodger fans
  • The importance of using favorite button on Twitter
  • What tools Josh uses to manage Dodgers social accounts
  • Why engagement is the metric of importance in MLB
  • How sponsors are clamouring to be involved with sports teams social media
  • How fans are influenced by sports teams and athletes
  • The importance of understanding the value of social media in sponsorship

Resources from the episode

Social Media Post of the Week

Nice slow motion video work by Josh on @Dodgers Twitter and Vine accounts.

Watch Jerry West teach kids how to shoot

Jerry West “I haven’t shot a basketball in years”


Closing 2 Cents

Marcia Hines did a terrific job singing the national anthem at the SCG Opening Series but then made this mistake on Twitter.  She confused former Australian Cricket captain Ian Chappell (pictured) with former English Captain Tony Greig (deceased in 2012) it went viral on Twitter.  Always know who you are tweeting about.


Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your networks.  Thanks in advance.

On SoundCloud?

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 44 of the Sports Geek podcast. And, this week, we’re talking baseball. As we caught up with Josh Tucker from the LA Dodgers, while his team was out here to play the Diamondbacks at the SCG. And, I catch up with AJ from Navigate Research and talk a little bit about the social media scoreboard.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And, now here’s your host, who once took four out of 15 bowling leg breaks as a teenager, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek and thank you again for listening to Sports Geek podcast, where the on the site on iTunes, on Stat Cloud, on Stitcher or any other good pod catcher – even the bad ones. We should be there.

Thanks again, DJ Joel. Slight correction on my bowling figures – four wickets, 415 – not four out of 15, as there are 20 wickets. But, I would take a whole podcast to explain cricket to Americans – in the same way that a lot of Australians were learning a lot about baseball when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks came to the SCG to open the MLB season. And, I was lucky enough to be there helping out the SCG with the All Things Social media and was lucky enough to catch up with Josh Tucker, who runs Social for the Dodgers. So, we had a little bit of a chat with Josh on today’s show.

Later on, I talked to AJ Maestes from Navigate Research on a study project that he has done on sports fans and social media and the way that they engage with the teams and the way that sponsors can engage with fans on social media and what kind of results sponsors and teams can get with social media.

And, then another quick shout-out and a big thank you to everyone who attended the Sports Geek one day educational or the Sports Geek ODE, if you are following along on twitter, a big thanks to Steve Ellis from the Honey Bar for hosting us. And, also Steve Sammartino and Josh Rowe for attending and providing a little bit of light colored humour with a few conversations to break up the day. To all those attended, thank you very much. You’ve really inspired me to do more of them. So, I’ll look to do some later in the year in Melbourne, potentially in other parts of Australia.

But, first, here’s my chat with Josh Tucker from the LA Dodgers.

Sean: So, here we are at the SCG in the new press box in the oval stand, ready for the second game. I’m here with Josh Tucker from the Dodgers. Welcome to Sydney.

Josh: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Sean: No, it’s alright. And, how have you found the trip so far?

Josh: Without sounding too cliche, I want to say it’s the trip of a lifetime. I studied abroad here in 2009.

Sean: So, where did you study?

Josh: New Southwest and it was less studying, more working on my tan.

Josh: But, the way that we’ve been treated here from the stewardesses on the plane to the arrival committee, everything has been beyond belief and top notch and a truly remarkable experience.

Sean: So, you want to tell everybody who’s missing – what’s your role at the Dodgers and what it entails?

Josh: So, I handle social media and we have a digital department so all under that. I produce most of the majority of the content from Facebook, twitter, Instagram design and Google plus. So, it’s strategy to play by play on twitter and really just trying to provide valuable content for our fans.

Sean: So, I’ve spoken with some of the guys in MLB Land before and you get a lot of support from our band and you use a lot of content. So, really social is a spot where you get to have a little creativity and you can do, because band produces so much of the stand in content with recaps and video and replays and stuff like that.

So, what do you look to do from a creative point of view?

Josh: The one way that we can differentiate ourselves is through axels. And, I think we really try and be leaders in that space and give our fans not only unprecedented access, but try and tell the story of our players. And, I think we are a baseball team, but really the chemistry in the clubhouse is what I’d try and portray as much as possible. Our guys – I think a good example is Juan Rive, who speaks barely any English and some of the guys have probably questioned some of his Spanish. Of course, it’s the on field play, but it’s that daily interactions that we try to give off.

Sean: So, from a clubhouse point of view – because, we’ve worked with clubs before and different managers and different coaches have a different take on the inner sanctum of the locker room or clubhouses in magic baseball with the Cowboys – they put a new coach in here. He put it to his plays and his trainer says, “He doesn’t have the right to be in this locker room. That’s our inner sanctum. We don’t want to share it with everything else. We can share.”

Do you have that kind of restriction or – how much, how far, as far as getting into that clubhouse sanctum?

Josh: I think there’s a real buy it on from the top and that’s been real important. The new ownership came in and said, “Yeah, it’s a priority,” and that extends all the way down. So, I think one – you have to be mindful of that sanctity and we don’t want guys to feel like we’re ever -

Sean: You’re not stalking them. You’re not taking photos when they’re in a quiet moment and all that kind of stuff.

Josh: Yeah, and I really want to be a fly on the wall as much as possible. And, I think the more that the players see that we’re respecting them, the more that they’ll give us. And, it’s really that there’s a fine line between trying to be there and give our fans content and getting too in the player’s face.

Sean: So, I want to talk a bit about the platform. You do a lot of the super slow mo vines – a crucial one that I’ll put in the show notes. It’s a bit like a lava lamp. You can just keep watching it over and over and over.

So, from a fan point of view, is it just a matter of getting that more content to the fans and that short snippet stuff?

Josh: Every piece of content that we post to any platform needs to provide some kind of value to our fans. And, Clayton Kershaw is the most exciting player in major league baseball. It’s trying to give a different perspective into his preparations. So, trying to get him walking out onto the field and him warming up. But, not in the typical angles that you’re used to seeing.

So, he can typically have a camera on the front of the player as they’re walking onto the field. So, I tried to get behind. Or, the team photo last week – all the photographers are in front, so I try and get -

Sean: That 45 degree angle and get the stadium in the background.

Josh: Exactly – because, they’re going to be 15 AP Getty – even our team photographer there. So, it’s really trying to find that different angle and different glimpse into the personalities, characters and just images.

Sean: So, for vine week, we’re working with teams and they’re really pretty much just using it as a video and – are you using any engagement on vine itself? Or, is it just pretty much a way to do video and sending it to twitter networks and getting instruction?

Josh: I think – and, this is just based off an eyeball test. And, this isn’t necessarily for the Dodgers. But, vine is an incredible – incredible social network. You see some of these American vines and a lot of them are kids. And, they’re getting two million ravines on a post, which is absolutely insane. So, I think people are consuming vines on their own. It really is an incredible – incredible tool for twitter in that it’s playing natively on the timeline. A lot of times – and, we see a higher interaction rate with photos than we do with vines.

Sean: And, so how do you handle the mix between? Because, we know that Instagram and twitter – those don’t get along. You send out a link and it’s in that play. So, do you keep them out separate or do you put something up on the Dodgers Instagram and it’s just sort of just in the Instagram space and it has its own life there?

Josh: We see very low engagement rate on Instagram videos. And, I say that with – we don’t know what the actual engagement is with a video because you don’t know how many sites and so that is an engagement. I think people are watching their videos. It’s sometimes a bit tricky, depending on your Wi-Fi or data situation.

Sean: Well, you’re on the bus and it’s telling people looking at silly videos and that kind of thing.

Josh: But, I think that the strength is Instagram is that it’s a photo sharing network and we get so much content that I think there’s sometimes – one video is appropriate. But, really I view Instagram as a photo sharing platform.

Sean: Yeah, and just the major league baseball games in Sydney – I’ve been keeping track of MLB and yesterday the first game just blew up. As soon as the top came off the diamond, everyone’s pulled out their phone and click – click – click – click.

Josh: It’s amazing.

Sean: It’s great from a stadium point of view because you get to tell the story of, “This is the story of how this is a great game.” And, it’s very hard to be negative on Instagram. You might get someone complaining or something, but really most of it – the content coming out of there is – this is an awesome experience.

Josh: I wish there were filters on Instagram comments. We have a couple hundred words automatically filtered out on Facebook. So I wish Instagram had similar filters because there is sometimes an unfortunate language used there.

Sean: We had a quick chat yesterday. You want to take me through some of the tools that you use day-to-day when you’re out in the field and when you get back to your mac? So, you’re a mac guy?

Josh: I’m a mac guy. The rest of the organization are PC people, I guess.

Sean: You have to be in the digital space. You’re being a bit creative and you want to be out plugging. So, what phone have you got?

Josh: I have an iPhone 5S. And, that’s how I get the slow-mo video. Alana Rizzo, our twitter extraordinaire and broadcaster is laughing at me down there.

Sean: And, now you’re part of the podcast. Thank you.

Josh: Alana Rizzo, everybody – so, I use tweet deck as my number one tool. And, I have about 50 columns varying from dodger to @dodgers to dodgers, verified users, non-verified users – our players or broadcasters -

Sean: So, from a twitter point of view, from Australia’s point of view, are you trying to celebrity tweet? Are you trying to amplify that? And, then make sure they’re feeling part of the Dodgers or what’s your strategy around engaging fans? Because, over a million followers, it’s a little hard to be saying thank you to everybody every time there’s a tweet.

Josh: I think that the most under-utilized tool on twitter, from a brand perspective is the favorite. It means that not only did we see it, but we recognize it. I think that people get a lot of praise, often, for engagement with a reply. But, the power of a favorite is the points.

Sean: It affected, now, the twitter app highlights it. Like, nine months ago, you didn’t know that someone favorite your tweet. You had to check somewhere. But, now it comes up and says, “Oh, the dodgers favorite your tweet,” and you’re like, “Oh,” you get a little bit of pep in your step.

Josh: That’s something that – I try and read every tweet that comes through and mentions @dodgers and even the word dodgers. We are watching. We’re listening.

Sean: In that – one thing I do want to ask you about is – you’ve got the hash tag dodgers and your handle is @dodgers. Why the same thing? Why haven’t you got a dodger nation that you hash tag?

Josh: Our hash tag that we use most is – #it’stimefordodgerbaseball. And, that’s something that is born from the broadcast and Scully and we brought to social. So, last Saturday, actually, at game time in the states, Vin Scully, hash tag ITFDB, dodgers Australia and Kershaw were trending in the US, which is pretty remarkable. Then, ITFDB was trending world-wide, which is also pretty cool.

Sean: And, it’s frequently like an inside joke with Dodger fans. Most people see it and go, “Is it a New Kids on the Block reforming?” It’s all these characters together.

Josh: You have to be a Dodgers fan to really know that. And, I think it’s now becoming a little bigger than that. It’s amazing that a baseball team from America can be playing in Sydney and our hash tag is trending world-wide at 1AM in the morning, Pacific Time.

Sean: When it’s our time in Australia, everyone else is asleep.

Josh: Right, I know. This cheapens all of that.

Sean: It doesn’t cheapen it a bit.

Sean: It has happened before where we’ll have a BTV show on in Australia. A show called Hey Hey. So the so Hey Hey was trending because we were watching a show we had watched 20 years ago.

Josh: Yeah.

Sean: And then the U.S. wakes up and they start going Hey Hey. It just ripping off that not knowing that we were talking about a TV show 20 years ago.

Josh: On Reddit, in injure there is always a late night host. America is sleeping so let’s let Australia and the U.K. get after this.

Sean: So what would you say your goals are for a social point of view for this season?

Josh: From a social stand point? It’s all about engagement for us. And because of our relationship with Bam there is a sponsorship and technique component. But for me and in my role it’s always been about providing content.

Sean: So that’s you using Adobe Social? Is that sort of how you are measuring engagement or and tracking traffic and things like that?

Josh: Yeah. Major League Baseball, they came up with this metric called the Engagement per Fan. And so we lead Major League Baseball in all platforms in 2013. And I think that’s a goal we would like to meet again. So engagement is our number 1 KPI. And that’s really providing great content for our fans. And winning on the field, really.

Sean: Exactly. It’s always a great marketing strategy. Winning on the field, you throw K’s all day.

Josh: Yeah.

Sean: Yeah. This is an easy job. I think Bryce Raven and the Giants are, after the Giants went to the championship, that’s the best marketing strategy you can have.

Josh: Right. There’s not a better one.

Sean: But you still got to make sure you can have the strategy in place to take advantage when those things happen. Like if it’s a no hitter or something amazing happens.

Josh: Yeah.

Sean: When your fans are using that hashtag you are wanting to amplify it. You want to do it. Now I’m taking among our– I’m hoping this is recorded.

Josh: Yeah.

Sean: Because it would be very disappointing if we had this discussion and it hasn’t recorded. So I thank you very much. Good Luck for the second game. And next time I’ll drop by.

Josh: That would be fantastic. Every one follow Alana Rizzo on twitter @Alana Rizzo.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Josh from the Dodgers in the new SCG media center. Really nice set up in the new centre. I was lucky enough to see how it operated from the patron’s point of view but the SCG absolutely transformed. The pictures on social media did not do it justice. There was a lot of chatter from what I was following along from the SCG. Both the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks and MLB did a terrific job of bringing the game out. And all the fans absolutely loved the experience. And yes, the 24 inch hotdogs were ridiculously over-sized. But exceptionally popular. I was also very lucky, absolutely honored. I’m not normally overawed when meeting sports stars and celebrities but I was very lucky to meet a guy, Vince Scully. A legend of the game. He is entering– This is his 65th season with the Dodgers. So you can completely understand why Josh has driven the hashtag #ForDodgers of Vince Scully’s catch phrase. I am absolutely humble to meet a legend.

Sean: So next, I was lucky enough to get an interview with A.J. from Navigate Research recently to talk about a social media sports study that he did recently. Which you can check out at And we just talk a little bit about understand the value of fan engagement in sports and digital. But primarily on social media and what it means for fans using social media and also what it means for the sports teams and their sponsors. Here’s my chat with A.J.

Sean: I am very happy to welcome on to the Sports Geek podcast A.J. If I’ve got that correct from Navigate Research. Welcome to the podcast A.J.

A.J.: Thank you Sean. Happy to be here. And you got the name correct. Thank you for that.

Sean: Alright. Well extra points for me. We met when you were last in Melbon and before we started recording you’ve been backwards and forwards in Australia doing some work. I wanted to get you on the call to talk about the A research project you did analyzing and talking to fans and how they use– sports fans in particular on how they use social media. You want to tell us a little background on the Social Media School Board?

A.J.: Yeah. I’d be happy to. Well we think we’ve essentially created the bible for how fans what, who, when, where, and why on all forms of social media. Now of course leave it to an American to call it the bible. Biblical is a little bit of a stretch. But there wasn’t existing research on the marketplace comprehensively looked at the many different ways that fans interact with social media. What the market place is paying for and where the opportunities that would better amplify the positive impact of how you use social, digital, and mobile media.

So we teamed up with Launch Man Media Group, one of the strategy followers here in North America. And they’re rapidly growing globally. So you’ll see them soon beyond just their athlete representation business in Australia. As it is now they are a partner in this study. And they helped us combine and bring in the more practical attributes. What are the normal market research studies? But that is the jist of it. Answering those questions that many people have on what is it worth and how does it impact fans and their behavior.

Sean: Yeah. It is a question that I get a lot on radio just last week. People are saying why bother with social media? Does it actually return? Is it worth the investment? That kind of thing. You’ve been able to come back with some numbers. Things like social media has driven 42% of fans to watch the game on TV or 29% of fans followed a play team or league. Especially for getting numbers on driving business for sports teams. And how social has helped sports teams and leagues do that. Do you want to give us bit of inside on what you found out on the research?

A.J.: Yeah. Absolutely. I would love to. The quick answer is yes, there is our lie. And I agree that many people are asking those questions. That’s why we launched the study and have made it for re-sale. We feel like there is a great number of people who need to make this business case. Just as you would in any business case, it starts with our lie and most people have been falling back on basic metrics like total impressions. But I can tell you with strong confidence that there is a return on investment when you look at measures like how influential social media is. As a matter of fact, it ranks number 1 or 2 in just about every slice or category that you can imagine. Driving people that become a fan, following a team, watch on television and in person. They can connect to the corporate sponsor and feel positively about that corporate partner or even buy their services. It’s just off the charts. Just about any metric yo think you need commercially motivated to drive. And it comes at an incredibly low cost. Internal programs can cost next to nothing, just time and effort. Even in the market place it is being sold for far too little. We found that the average CPM overall social media mediums average around $7 a CPM. And if I were to tell you that I had found a medium that had great impact on sports then you wouldn’t think it would have sold for such a low price. Yes, we rely on social media and the crux of the study is to highlight what is most effective and efficient to do with social media.

Sean: And that’s really important because a lot of digital departments and sales departments are trying to sell these properties. Like the fact that yes we can set up a Facebook page and post. It doesn’t cost them anything. But one of the things that the teams and the leagues have to realize is to put some way on those posts. It’s an evaluation of what it’s worth. Not that it doesn’t take much to send out. And we’ve got these brands that are trying to reach out to fans that have been drawn in by the big numbers. But it’s now realizing if a post is done correctly and the right offer is presented to fans, that they do get really good returns from activating sports teams and leagues.

AJ.: And that is exactly correct. And there is no question about it. It’s most difficult for media entities and what works in the United States. All of the major media networks are all clients of ours have a hard time getting ale cart value. They are often treating it as a value act to throw in the large–

Sean: Yeah. The steak knives of the teams. So to speak.

AJ: That is exactly right. And I can tell you in speaking only for their domestic business in the United States. ESPN seems to be more ahead of the other folks in the states. They’ve been selling their deals on a cross platform basis for over 10 years now. They don’t do deals that do not involve cross second and third that don’t utilize social media. Assets that they have under their control. It’s to the benefit of their sponsors. We do a great deal of research involving the impact of sponsorship and advertisement deals through sports with ESPN. And there is a very clear and positive impact when an advertiser integrates social, mobile, digital rather than more traditional aspects. Now on the 30 second television spots. Signage that is on television, etc. So the truth is, is that not only is it a shame to give something so valuable for free, but you’re actually doing a favor to an advertiser and sponsor if you can get them to buy an integrated package.

Sean: Yeah. I think that’s crucial. If you’re presenting your proposals and there’s all these line items the sponsors can pick and choose which items they take out. It’s not very effective. Now if you say digital and social is just part of the whole solution it’s not something they can pick apart and try to get the proposition they want. Because for it to work it has to be cross all your platforms.

AJ: That’s exactly right. And we’ve made this same mistake before in the industry. When websites were relatively new they were an extra throw in. And how silly would that concept be today. But if you look at the rate of global movement there’s no question about the future’s first screen and where it’s going to be. That first point of contact with consumers is going to be smartphones. And going further into the future of television and ways that people interact day to day with contact. And to think that you might be the late adopter, even just middle of the pack, it would be a pretty tragic mistake in my opinion. You need to be involved and committed to be in the middle of the pact in this stage.

Sean: So looking at the commercial side, how do we manage social media? Is it selling from a tweet or post? And that’s what you can do with your sponsors. But the other side of social that it really, and a reason a lot of teams were not on board at first was the fan development side. And the study showed how fans are feeling more connected with their sport via social media. You’ve got 32% of fans saying they felt closer to their sport by social media. Do you think because they are outside the big 4, they put more effort into social media?

AJ: You know, it’s a combination of both. There’s a lot of work with all those different sports in the United States. So I’m able to speak a little bit to their fan base being different. NHL fans are naturally inclined to be early adopters to technology. They have always been skewed with codes to be more likely to adopt this technology. So a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy there. A little bit is true with major league soccer in the United States.

AJ: A little bit is true with major league soccer in the United States where their fan-based queues were younger and more Hispanic than other sports which again puts a little bias in there for social digital mobile media, but we also found that those clubs were making a greater effort. They had almost doubled the number of Tweets or social media posts for their fans.

So it’s difficult to perfectly isolate the chick or the egg there, but there’s no question that we didn’t find any abnormalities in why they were performing better based on who their fans where and what they wanted. The beauty of research and what we do every day with Navigate is to investigate not what we think by gut feel but what is factual out there.

I can share an Australian-specific statistic that Australian consumers, even if a lot of the stadium are lagging behind in Wi-Fi and other technology. I know some of your clients are on the front edge. By the way, Sean, I recognized the things that are going on at the S.C.G., Allianz and ANZ, but that’s coming on a few other places, right? In Australian consumers despite not having that quality of bandwidth or connectivity in many of the stadia in the country actually have a higher propensity to want to follow the team that way and a higher likelihood to watch streaming via digital, etc., etc. It bucks some conventional wisdom that would say your fans would be a little less eager for some of these rights and benefits as they would in the U.S. where it’s a pretty common place to be able to have quality bandwidth at a stadium.

Sean: Yeah, it is something that is a problem. It has been a worldwide problem and it’s slightly being solved by partners. Yeah, there are a few that have been at the SCG and Allianz among the few. We saw how much extra data that we’re sharing once that problem got solved.

One of the things I wanted to ask you about is I guess just having a look at the different platforms that fans are using. One of the steps there is you sort of looked at where fans are getting their sports info and it sort of ranged Facebook at 36%, Twitter at 21%, and Google at 16% and then Instagram at 7%. Is it pretty much that across the board?

Google to a certain degree for a lot of teams that I speak to, they’re sort of doing it because Google is a really big giant but not really seeing the engagement but it’s still something that people are accessing their news from. Is it something that could catch fire or become a viable third position or a third social media platform for teams?

AJ: You know, that’s hard to say if it’s early stage. It’s more being treated like a passport on the internet for people who are users of Google platforms. I would say it looks like there’s already a winner in the mobile software game and that is Google. So Droid has a dominant global share and higher growth rates than iOS or Apple. So I wouldn’t bet against Google but clearly it’s not the same kind of social media platform that Facebook is even if that may have been or have not been one of their original intentions.

I’m glad you brought up Cisco actually. We’re a really big fan of the work that Cisco does because that’s an example of the flexibility that you need inside a stadium to anticipate future needs. There’s things that we don’t know of today that you’re going to want to do and be flexible enough to handle to satisfy your fans’ wants and needs.

How many people were on Twitter five years ago? How many people were on Facebook 12 years ago? It’s that quick – these two dominant players. To give you a Facebook versus Twitter example, that’s just a little PR highlight from our team from the study which is raw statistics.

As you dive deeper into that and when we’re delivering these results, we’re working with the NRL on this. We’re really proud to say the NRL. is the first Australian client to purchase the study which releases next week. When you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that if you look at just the basic user base of Facebook and Twitter, you’d say, “Well, those are large.” If you look on a proportionate basis, people disproportionately prefer to receive their news through Twitter which makes sense of course intuitively. If you just blindly set up your social media platforms based on how large the user base, those are the ones we’re supposed to be involved in, you might misuse them.

There’s very little actual purchases that take place on a Facebook but there’s a lot of influence and coordination of groups for social events. Twitter is disproportionately the favored way for sports fans to receive their news and updates. It is just behind Facebook and how I want to follow my team, but when you look at the size of the user base, again it’s the way that your fans would like to get the inside scoop, updates, etc.

Sean: Yeah, I mean we just recently just looked at all the teams. The only thing with Twitter, once you’re in, you understand it and you are getting the info. At the moment, it’s just from an Australian point of view unless we extend around the world is that Twitter is still having that growth issue of not having as many fans on to be able to get that data.

From the studies and I guess looking at our client’s traffic drivers, Facebook is still firing above the big driver from a traffic point of view for fans and that’s partly because the user base that they have and the amount of fans that they reach.

AJ: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. The keys to doing the kind of research that are in the study are to understand what tool is appropriate or what kind. There is no question that a sledgehammer can drive a nail into a piece of wood, but is that the most efficient tool to use? Is that the way your customers want to receive that information?

Really intelligent practitioners of C.R.M. or customer relationship management practices know exactly what part of their database to hit with what kind of message at what time so as to keep them connected, to not cause a [inaudible 00:06:18] in that database and relationship, but to still maximize openly revenue and fandom and connectivity to that customer base.

There’s a little bit of an art and there’s a little bit of a science to that.

Sean: So what are the next things that you’re looking at post the social media score board as far as getting a bit more analysis of what sports fans are doing?

AJ: Well, it’s a study we intend to continue into the future and that data becomes powerful overtime being able to look at change overtime. So certainly it is on our long-term radar. At the rate of change in this space, it should be on anybody’s. It’s not a short-term thing. It’s going away.

One interesting thing that we have a lot of interest in the Australian-specific market with is a fan experience research – a study we’re coming up later this year. We’ll address what are the drivers for someone attending sporting events in person versus watching at home. Inside of that fan experience, what is it that they want out of the technology of the stadium using the Cisco example or out of the actual facilities they’re visiting?

Certainly it’s something we expect to be used by commercial partners and agencies to understand how to best interact with fans and make a connection with fans for those commercial partners as well as those own and operate facilities that are looking to draw revenue out of attendees whether it be food service or what have you.

We think it’s a question that doesn’t appear to be a really strong and consistent answer in the industry for which is, “What makes these people come? How do I get them to come back?” Versus all their alternatives in the sports entertainment world including sitting at home and watching that same club play on television.

Sean: Yeah, so looking at solving that problem of it’s easier for me to stay at home and watch on my high definition screen than sit in the rain or trouble with public transport. So trying to find some of those answers in that space and where the things around technology improvements and mobile app support and having greater connectivity whether these are some of the tipping points that stadiums or teams can invest in to drive more people to the games. That’s sort of the thing you’re looking for.

AJ: No question. Great marketers take risks. Because marketing is often a combination of science and the things we do with Navigate Research and the arch and the intuition and the things that great marketers are willing to do and take risks on, it means that only those that are really on the cutting edge are there right now. You named a few of them – ANZ, S.C.G. and Allianz.

We think there’s an incredible amount of room for improvement. It’s one of those things where early at the game sometimes immeasurable leads because it takes time. It takes time. It’s a serious investment – people, resources, talent, intellectual property, physical actual assets and technology, and implementation. There’s a lot of behind this stuff.

We work with Populous on a global basis. They’re the global leader in architecture around stadium design. They’re certainly one of the people we’re having in-depth conversations with the study to understand what fans want when they come on site. We’re working with a number of clubs in the United States here to help bridge that gap to make the immeasurable, the unique thing about attending in person that we all know make us attend in person to protect those while at the same time bridging the gap between some of the conveniences you have at home that are missing from many of the stadia in Australia as an example.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast, AJ. I’ll have a link to the social media,, in the show as well as some of the stats from the study. I’ll also link to you on LinkedIn. So if people want to say, they can simply just go to the site and enter the details and you will follow up with them.

AJ: Yeah, no question. I’m always looking for excuses to talk to folks in Australia. I love the people. I love the country. I’ll even be there next week in a couple of conferences. So hopefully I’ll see you all in person for those who get the chance to listen to the podcast.

Sean: Okay, thanks a lot, AJ.

AJ: Thank you, Sean. Bye-bye.

DJ Joel: Please subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast on iTunes. Go to

Sean: Thanks again to AJ for joining the podcast. If you’re lucky enough to catch up with him on his mini business tour to Australia, say hi for me and get him a beer. He is a really good bloke. That wraps up this show.

As I said, it’s been a really busy week working both with the SCG around the major league. Thanks for kicking off the season. Getting two wins to kick off the season always helps and working with the guys and girls, the Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras, in teaching a little bit about social media and how they can use it and also manage it as an athlete. This week serves the game.

As you would expect, I’ve gone for a game at the SCG. Major League Baseball. As I said earlier, everybody who attended the game had an absolute ball. Again from a podcast point of view, it’s very hard for me to paint the picture that was the SCG. All I can tell you is go to Instagram, check out M.L.B. in Oz 3-point 3800 Instagram photos we’ve shared over the two days with shots of extra-long hot dogs, terrific-looking ballpark.

Check them out – some tremendous work which leads me into my social media post of the week and I’m going to give it to our guest, Josh Tucker. It’s one of the post we actually talked about in the interview – a slowmo vine of Clayton Kershaw in the ball peen. So check that out. That is in the show notes. The show notes can be found as always using the number. This is episode 44 and so that clock tells me it is time to wind up the show and dedicate this show.

You can get the show notes at I’m going to dedicate this episode to the man himself, The Logo. The man is known as The Logo, Jerry West, Laker legend. I’ll actually link to a video I saw recently of Jerry West teaching young kids how to shoot a basketball. Even though he’s on the news, Jerry West can still shoot a basketball. He doesn’t miss one shot in a whole demonstration. Again a couple of L.A. legends featured in this podcast. We have Jerry West and Vin Scully.

That’s it for this week. Like I said, apologies for this one link being a little bit late but it has been a busy week especially with the one day educational yesterday at the Honey Bar.

So time for the Closing 2 Cents. I’m sure you saw these on the Sports Geek Facebook page, but remember always know who you’re Tweeting about.

DJ Joel: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at Listen to beers, blokes and business at Go to for more sports digital marketing resources. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Is Twitter getting rid of the @-Replies and Hashtags? – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 25th March 2014

What @SportsGeek reads…

AEG Sports' Aaron LeValley chats Digital and CRM LA Kings and LA Galaxy

How an Under-Appreciated iOS 7 Feature Will Change the World

Is Twitter getting rid of the @-Replies and Hashtags?

Young baseball fan solves crisis in show of good sportsmanship. Epic tantrum averted.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia… epic tweet fail

A story of perseverance - ESPN’s Stuart Scott’s fight with cancer

FiveThirtyEight looks a Women’s Football in USA

Check out the Cleveland Cavaliers awesome floor projection system - would you like to see that at a stadium near you?

The LA Dodgers arrived ‘Down Under’ - clever post on Vine

Australians making ideas happen - thanks for the shout out Mat Cole

Can you see the opportunity right in front of you?

The Periodic Table of Content Marketing

How to make what you’re really worth

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Want to help decide where next #SportsGeekODE is?

Register your interest for next #SportsGeekODE event

SGP 043: Aaron LeValley chats digital in LA with Kings & Galaxy

AEG Sports' Aaron LeValley chats Digital and CRM LA Kings and LA GalaxyOn this week’s podcast I chat with Aaron LeValley from AEG Sports about how the LA Kings and LA Galaxy tackle digital and data hand in hand.  In our SEAT Sponsor Series I chat will John Brams from Extreme Networks about wi-fi in stadium and their new partnership with NFL as wi-fi analytics partner.


Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

Looking to improve your skills in social media? Come along to our Sports Geek Social Media One Day Educational on March 31st use promo code MATESRATES ($50 off).

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • Why CRM and Digital teams work in unison at AEG Sports
  • How the LA Galaxy plan to build on season ticket base
  • How LA Kings used direct messaging on Twitter
  • Importance of privacy as marketers get access to more data
  • How LA Galaxy use marketing automation to sell more tickets
  • How the wi-fi landscape has changed
  • The importance of understanding each stadium has different needs and different fans
  • What were people doing on their smartphones while watching the Super Bowl.

Resources from the episode

Join Aaron & John at SEAT2014

SEAT 2014 in Miami is a must attend event, all the best and brightest from the world of IT, CRM & Digital will be in attendance.  Can you afford NOT to attend?   In Miami on July 21-22 it promises to be the biggest SEAT Conference held.

Check out SEAT Conference in Miami

Super Bowl wi-fi stats

Top 10 Benefits of Purview Application Awareness at Super Bowl XLVIII

Social Media Post of the Week

Check out Liverpool serving up great moments in comic form on Facebook.

Watch Kouta’s advert


Check out 3D Projection on court

Forgot to mention this on the wrap up on the podcast, but watch this video

Closing 2 Cents

Keep an eye on SCG this weekend for #OpeningSeries on Facebook, Twitter (@SCG) and Instagram (@ourSCG).

Sydney Cricket Ground transformed for #MLBinOZ

Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your networks.  Thanks in advance.

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Follow Sports Geek on Soundcloud, all episodes available.

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Find out more

Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to another episode of the Sports Geek Podcast, Episode 43. On this week’s podcast I chat with Aaron LeValley from AEG sports about all things L.A., data, digital, Galaxy, Kings, and we chat about Wi-Fi analytics with Extreme Networks’ John Brams.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host, who still plays with Legos with his friends, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thank you very much, DJ Joel. I’m pretty sure I said Lego. The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos, but I wanted to pull you up on that, DJ Joel.

That’s right; my name is Sean Callanan and thank you for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast, either on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or some other pod catcher. If you can’t find it you’re not listening right now, but please tell your mates about the podcast. I very much appreciate all the tweets and messages we’re getting in.

I’m going to quick on the intro here, because I’ve got a couple of really big interviews with some special guests and you don’t want to listen to me all the time. On today’s podcast I chat with Aaron LeValley from AEG Sports on his work with the L.A. Kings and The Galaxy. We talk digital and CRM, and we talk a little bit about privacy laws as well. And then, part of our SEAT sponsor series, I catch up with John Brams from Extreme Networks and talk about Wi-Fi in stadiums and some of the analytics they’re doing, and some really cool stats on what fans are doing on their smart phones at this year’s Super Bowl.

Later on, we’ll look at which team’s using 3D technology on their court for halftime entertainment. Which APL team is using comic books as a way to engage their fans on Facebook, and we’ll have a chat about the SCG transforming into to a ballpark this weekend for the opening series of Major League Baseball.

Don’t forget, the Sports Geek one-day educational is coming up on March 31st. You can get $50 off by simply using the code MATESRATES. I would really appreciate it if you could share that out. If you think you know someone who is running a business that could use more business and would like to figure out how to use social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and how to pull it all together for their business please pass it on. Use that code “MATESRATES;” get $50 off. I’m really looking forward to the event at Honey Bar on March 31st.

All right, let’s get stuck into it. Here is my discussion with Aaron LeValley from AEG Sports.

I’m very happy to welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast from AEG, he’s the Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Analytics. Aaron LeValley. Welcome to the podcast.

Aaron: Thanks, Sean. Great to speak to you.

Sean: So first of all, Aaron, for people who don’t know–I mean, we’ve got listeners in the States who’d know AEG and the behemoth that it is in the sports landscape–tell us a little bit about your role and what you oversee in your role.

Aaron: Yes, so to give a little bit of background on our company, AEG is a worldwide company with a lot of different divisions, specifically facilities, sports, music, operates some convention centers, so we have arenas and convention centers, and clubs, and theatres around the world, including Allphones Arena in Sydney. We operate the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. We operate some of the stadiums in Brazil that will be participating in the World Cup here.

One of our divisions is the sports side. On the sports side we own eight different entities, of which we operate six of them. So the six entities we operate are the LA Kings, the LA Galaxy, the Amgen Tour of California, the Manchester Monarchs, Eisbären Berlin, and Hamburg Freezers. Those last two are hockey teams in Germany. So, we work with six of our different entities and really try to bring about best practices and bring about scale to all the teams, help them out with some reporting, some dashboarding, and really increase collaboration between all of our entities. So, that’s a little bit of background on AEG.

What I’m in charge of at AEG Sports is both database marketing and analytics for all of the teams, as well as helping bridge the gap on the digital side, so everything from all of our ticketing reporting, to reporting on all of our business metrics, to consulting on email marketing systems, best practices for database marketing, as well as digital strategies. So, a little brief explanation on some of the different things that we oversee.

Sean: So, when I first met you, you were in the CRM space, so you’ve come to that digital side from that CRM. Previously, Dewayne, who we’ve spoken to before on the podcast, Dewayne Hankins, was in that digital strategy role. Now you’ve taken over that role. How do you think bringing that CRM slant, or that real data focus that you’ve had as a strong CRM guy, have you changed tack? Or, has that just been a natural progression that the digital strategy has to be so entwined and in step with what you’re trying to do from a data point of view in your CRM?

Aaron: Yeah, I think one thing to credit is Dewayne, when he came onboard, really took our digital team to brand new level of that, something that I could have never done. His background in digital really helped our team really change the landscape with our digital strategy. But, what we decided to do was, when we left, we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We didn’t think we needed to go about and get somebody brand new to audit the strategy.

We felt like we had a good, sound strategy and what we were trying to do is work together more as an organization, so bridge some of the departments together, really bring more analytics in there with the analytics team I was overseeing. We have good people who help run our social networks, our website, and really all of our digital platforms, and really just take advantage of their strengths and their skill sets. So Pat Donahue, who worked with Dewayne, is now our manager of digital media.

Really, all I’m doing from the digital side is helping to leverage the complete organizational strategy. If we’re doing something within a database marketing slant, maybe an email campaign, direct mail, call campaign, whatever, is taking a look at the complete picture, “What are we doing from a social element? What are we working with our marketing team with? Do we need to put some more promotion behind it via advertising, via grassroots, whatever?” Then also apply the analytics behind it.

So, “Is this marketing campaign working? What are some of the things that we learned in the past that we may want to adjust our strategies? What type of messaging do we want to use? What messaging works better at what times of day, what times of year?” Then looking at the across entities. So those are some of the ways we’re looking at going. We’re really looking to build more synergies between the different groups and improve communication. Let our digital team focus on the digital, both execution and then also taken our digital to the next step and the evolving technologies.

Sean: I really love what you’re saying there. We catch up at the SEAT conference and I’m looking forward to seeing you again in Miami, But, really getting the teams, the CRM side of the business and the digital side of the business, and not forgetting the propeller heads in the tech side of things, making sure that they’re also part of the equation, but really getting those three parties working together is really vital now. In this day and age you can’t really have that silo approach, because if your CRM guys aren’t talking to your digital guys, or if it’s a combative relationship you’re not going to get the results you want.

Aaron: Yeah, exactly. We’re embarking on it, and I think because of the synergies we have we’re embarking on a big data project. I know that’s a big buzz word, and I hate to use buzz words, but we’re embarking on a project to centralize our databases, which not only will allow us to understand call campaigns, and lead campaigns, email marketing, but it will allow us to understand our loyalty programs–how our customers interact with our loyalty programs, and also the digital side, both social networks, everything from, who’s a follower, who responds via social media, to who’s visiting our web pages at what times, and really trying to get the complete picture of the customer.

Because a big thing for us is, in the fragmented marketplace, you can’t put all your money towards an advertising campaign, or a direct mail campaign, or a social campaign; you really have to address the customers where they want to be addressed. So that’s, I think, one thing that this organization and this structure is allowing us to do.

It allows us to spend some time on those analytics, spend some time on building a database structure that we’re able to really take full advantage of, and then use that toward understanding the customer and marketing to them in a way that they want to be marketed to.

Sean: I understand what you’re saying there when you’re saying, “We’re running a big data project,” because I think most teams are running something under that same title, “We’re running a big data project and want to better understand our fans.”

But, when you’re pitching that kind of thing or you’re proposing that kind of thing, what particular metrics or goals are you trying to get out of that project? Is it a raising a dollar per fan, is it a ticket sales thing? Do you have specific goals around those projects? Because, otherwise, if you don’t have those goals they sort of just become these big chunks of work that don’t have any specific reason why you’re driving it. Have you got some goals around that project yourselves?

Aaron: Yeah, I think the first thing, I kind of alluded to it before, is really understanding how the consumer wants to be talked to, so we’re seeing mobile apps grow and grow, we see social networks pop up via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, all those out there. A lot of teams we execute direct mail strategies, we execute email strategies, we do call campaigns. So, the marketing budget is not getting increased tenfold so that we can reach to all these different areas. So while working within the same marketing budget what we’re trying to do is this project will allow us to centralize all of these metrics.

We’ll be able to attribute revenue to different areas. We’ll be able to understand where our consumers are interacting with our brand. When we’re able to do that, when we build a season kickoff campaign or a new sales campaign, or just an awareness campaign, we’re able to say, “Okay, we have 200,000 people that we can message, we can market to, we have privileges.”

Instead of sending a direct mail piece to 150 and then sending an email piece to 125, and then we’re going to do our general advertising, and then we’re going to pay for promoted posts, it’s really understanding, “These types of people want to be communicated with in this way”, and trying to get down to the kind of hyper-segmentation, really get down to, “This specific customer we can interact with in this way.”

And be it a mobile app push, an email blast, if we’re seeing somebody not open our emails, why are we wasting time sending them email? But maybe they’re a little old school and they like a direct mail piece, or they respond well when we have a sales rep call them.

Then also applying the digital side, the digital metrics to understand, “What types of consumers are responding to different mediums?” So if we have fans 18 to 34 and we want to pitch them a ten-game plan, then we’re going to spend our time on social networks focusing on that segment, on that message, so we’re not trying to be everything to everybody.

Sean: And the thing is, as the social network’s developing, especially their ad products that they’ve got available, you can start taking that data and using that back into those networks. So, things like the Facebook custom audience options and the fact that you can say, “If the people who aren’t opening my email, but we know that they’re on social, well, we can actually direct a post directly to those 10,000 or 20,000 people that may not have opened the email, but we can reach them by a promoted post using some advertising and be real targeted about that specific promotion without having that blast, show everybody,” type approach. You can sort of take that data and use the right method to reach the right fan.

Aaron: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re looking at doing. We’ve done a couple of trials on Facebook promoted posts and some on Twitter, but really we’re starting to incorporate that into our marketing strategy a lot more, rather than just retargeting visitors who went to our website. We know that Facebook post, that Twitter post, they’re not being seen by as many, because of all of Facebook’s algorithms or whatever Twitter may do on the backend. So we know that we have to extend the reach.

Facebook’s done a good job of allowing us to really hyper-segment, to focus in on specific audiences, customize the message so that when we do promote the post it is getting seen by the right audience. Like we said, when we get the data from everything that we’ve collected on our fans and we’ve been able to analyze the types of fans and how they respond, all of a sudden that ties into our digital strategy and how we promote to those customers.

Sean: In Australia, we’re moving into football season. It’s the main sports code with the AFL and the NRL. One of the big things that drives the AFL and NRL is membership or season ticket holders as you would call them in the states, and we’re running campaigns at the minute to drive and boost membership with our clubs. Do you want to take us through what you’re trying to do with the Galaxy around driving new season ticket sales?

Aaron: Yeah, so with the LA Galaxy the season just started. We had our first regular season game on March 8th, so just about a week and a half ago. So to help launch the season, we at the Galaxy have a fair amount of season tickets that we need to sell. So we’re really trying to focus in on small game packages up to full season seats.

Sean: So how many season ticket holders do the Galaxy have?

Aaron: We have roughly…I’m trying to remember the number, I think 6,000 and we have close to a 27,000 seat stadium. Since we’ve been on board, a lot of our focus has been on growing our season ticket base, be it full season seats, half season, mini plans, because we know that we need to have a stronger base to be able to sustain ourselves long term, to not rely so much on groups and individual promotions, that from a long term strategy we have to get that arena filled night in and night out and without season ticket holders we’re not going to be able to do that.

So what we did is we do what we normally do when we launch a campaign is we take our email opt-in list and we say, “Okay, here’s the ticket prospecting email. This is about full season tickets.” So, we send that out to everybody. The key thing we do after that is we understand the behaviors of our customers to that first message and then go from there.

We’ll send out the email campaign and we’ll send out a direct mail piece. What we’ll do is we’ll understand our customers’ behaviors on that email, whether they clicked on a full season ticket link, whether they purchased, whether they clicked on a group link, mini plan link, even a single game link. We’ll track all those behaviors and over the course of a few weeks, when we track those behaviors, the next communication will be something where it’s completely tailored to the products that they’re interested in.

So, we’re fortunate we have a marketing automation system, which we can also track online forms and incorporates web analytics, so we’re able to understand people who have also visited our pages and whether they’ve converted or not. So, we’ll take a look at this picture over the next couple weeks, analyze our customers and then when it comes to the second campaign, the second campaign will be completely tailored based on their interests.

Then we’ll observe that for another two weeks and then we’ll do one final push to people who, we call “show extreme interest,” so have clicked on an email, have visited the a web page multiple times, and really turn a season kickoff email into a month or two-month-long campaign, which also incorporates a direct mail campaign, web behavior, online form behavior. So, it really tries to give us the complete picture.

We’ve run these types of things in the past and we don’t have the metrics behind it yet. We launched it probably about three weeks ago, so we’re right in the middle of it now. But when we’ve done these campaigns in the past, we’re learning more and more about our customers and showcasing these has been extremely successful to get away from the batch and blast type of thing, which we still do and still has a strategy, but you have to be able to learn from that batch and blast. You have to be able to learn what those customers are clicking on.

Also, the goal of this long term is, next year we get away from the batch and blast and we’re delivering targeted emails from the start, so we’ll be collecting information throughout the year on the Galaxy, Galaxy fans, what types of tickets they’re interested in, where they like to sit, who their favorite players are, so that when we come to campaigns later on in the season and when we come to this campaign next year we’re no longer delivering a sort of batch and blast. We’ve collected all the data we have on these customers and we’re understanding the products that they want.

Sean: What tool are you using to do that marketing automation?

Aaron: We use Adobe Campaign, which is formerly Neolane. It’s a company based…well, it was a company based out of France and then acquired by Adobe, probably about a year ago. There are a variety of companies that do a great job. Eloqua, which was acquired by Oracle, is very good. Marketo is a very good one. I believe Salesforce has a campaign; I can’t remember the exact one, I think it’s Pardot. Exact Target works on stuff.

So there are a variety of them out them, everything from really expensive tools too much more cost efficient tools that you can utilize. A lot of times, if you have somebody dedicated to it, which I highly suggest, is even if you just have your basic email campaign, being able to track and label your links, and working with your email provider to understand, “Do I understand which person clicked on which link?” Because then you can create segments and message to them in the appropriate ways.

The joy of the automation program is we set up all this once; we set all the logic and the workflow once, and then it runs itself. So that’s a nice thing. Whereas in the past, before we had Adobe Campaign, we used to do some of this stuff, but it would take a lot longer and be a lot more intensive on the workload, because you’d look at who clicked on this specific link, build the segment, craft the emails, and then it out, and send out five or six different emails.

Sean: I was talking to the guys at the South Sydney Rabbitohs and one of the things that’s been really effective for them, from a membership point of view, is effectively hitting up the fans twice. So, they have a non ticketed membership where they’d just declare themselves as a member and it’s at relatively low cost.

But then, later on in the season, those fans are then sort of targeted for an upgrade, and effectively, because they’ve already paid half of their membership in the non ticketed form, they don’t really realize that they’re paying the same price as a full ticket eventually. So, it’s sort of like you pay half now and you’re a member and it’s like, “Well did you know that you can just have to pay another $100 and you’re a general admission member and you get to come to all the games?”

It’s done really well to convert fans sort of in that start of the season. They’ve forgotten that they’ve already paid the first $100 and it doesn’t seem as much. Do you do much in a way of upgrading and up scaling that fan that’s bought the mini plan and then get them on the hook for the second mini plan, for the second half of the season?

Aaron: Yeah, we constantly are doing that. That’s a big portion of our strategy. Those are your best leads, is kind of working up that sales ladder, so we’re constantly evaluating our sales ladder. Who bought a single game ticket last year? How many converted to the next plan?

One of our call campaigns will be we’ll send out our single game buyers to our sales reps and if they’re able to upsell them, we can refund them the game and charge them the lower rate, and get them into a three-, five-, ten-game plan. So we’re always looking at that. I think that’s a great idea that they’re doing.

We have a three-game plan for the Galaxy this year, which is focused on early season games. Which, at the end, we’re definitely going to make the call to try to get them to three games later in the year. Hopefully, delivering a competitive rate, hopefully delivering a good benefits package and really showcasing the price savings of upgrading, is you don’t have to spend a lot more money to get a lot more games, because by going from three games to six, you’re probably getting a lower rate, you’re probably adding on a benefit or two. All of a sudden, it makes the decision easier for the consumer, and that’s really what we’re trying to do with all of our projects is make that decision easier.

Sean: So one of the things, you being a data focus guy, we love social networks as a sales lead and a way to drive traffic to our websites, but one of the things is that Mr. Zuckerberg, he owns all those fans. He can nexus them; we can’t as marketers. So what strategies have you found work really well to suck the data, get the data out of Facebook and Twitter, and get them into your database? Are there any specific sorts of campaigns or tools that you have used to sort of get more of that data into your system?

Aaron: Yeah, we’ve tried a few things and, again, with our marketing automation tool. We’ve done something wit Twitter where we know who our followers are and we’re able to direct message the followers, so we’ll create a strong call to action. The key is it needs to be a very strong call to action, because you’re messaging to them where they’re not expecting it. A lot of times in social media, people don’t want to be messaged to unless they really know you, they have that relationship with you.

What we did is we actually delivered a strong call to action through a direct message, which was to a sweepstakes. We found of the direct messages we sent out we actually saw about 10% respond to that direct message and we were able to capture that data. I think there are tools out there. I know there a tool that we’ve worked in the past with Facebook is Woobox, and there are plenty of other ones similar to that. But there are a lot of tools out there that integrate with your Facebook, which again, is all about delivering quality so that the fans are willing to share their information with you.

It’s making sure you don’t betray that fan trust. I mean, I think a lot of fans and a lot of consumers on Facebook see the, “It’s okay, here publish my information or share my information,” by going on there. I think people are starting to back away from those. So again, it kind of comes back to delivering content and delivering quality content.

It’s not only for your website, but it’s for your social media, it’s for your email campaigns, it’s for your contests. You have to be able to deliver something quality that your fans like, and then they’ll be willing to share that information. They’ll be willing to pay the money on those tickets as long as you’re delivering a plan that fits a need for the customer.

Sean: Yeah, I definitely think there is a little bit of pushback from fans. I don’t think that they’re as open as they were a couple of years ago of giving over their data. I don’t know if that’s because the NSA’s reading everyone’s emails or we’ve just had new privacy laws come out here in Australia. I think fans are more wary so you really have to raise the bar as a sports team when you’re running a competition or something from a fan experience point of view, that is enough for them to hand over that kind of data.

Then the other thing is you’ve got to deliver high quality email newsletters, and high quality information to the fans. Otherwise, they’re not going to open those emails and they’re not going to be interested.

Aaron: Yeah, you pointed out one there, the privacy laws, that obviously you just had new laws in Australia. That’s something in the States that’s been talked about a lot. We as marketers have to be cognizant of these privacy laws. A lot of trust is put into the marketer’s hands to self-govern, so we as marketers as we look to do these things, need to make sure we don’t violate the consumer’s trust, because the more and more we violate the consumer’s trust the harder it’s going to be for us to do these things in the future, to other unique things where we know who these customers are, we’re able to market to them.

Our goal, and our job, is to deliver relevant and timely content to them and we believe with these strategies we’re able to. We’re not just delivering them the same content to everybody. With understanding more about the consumer we’re able to deliver that relevant and timely content, but it comes back to, we need to make sure that we’re all understanding of the privacy laws in our jurisdictions, understanding where they’re going and to not violate the privacy of the customer.

Sean: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, the laws only came out recently here in Australia and there are a few people spooked, but yeah, I’m no lawyer, but if you stick with the premise of not violating that, and the main thing I think from the privacy laws–I’m hoping to catch up with someone who is actually an authority for the podcast–but the main thing is ask permission for what you want to do and as long as the fan has agreed to that then you’ll be fine. But you really can’t violate that trust, because you’ll lose fans pretty quickly.

Aaron: Yeah, definitely.

Sean: I do think, on that tracking data, I think there’s still Facebook apps out there that offer value in the sort of game, sort of a space, but I think the next place that, from a data point of view, is how teams can use the Twitter cards functionality, like the fact that you can opt in with your email or even vote with the Twitter cards. I guess it’s something that will develop over the next 12 months, being able to just click on a button and you’re entered. The more seamless it can be for fans the more chance that you’ll get that data.

Aaron: Yeah. No, we’re always looking into those types of things and watching the different networks and really the new technologies and how we under more about our customers in the social sphere, I guess.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for joining me, Aaron. It’s taken us a few times and a few reschedules to make this interview happen, but it’s good to chat to you.

Aaron: Yeah, thanks, Sean, it’s been great.

Sean: And looking forward to catching up with you at SEAT in Miami. Christine’s telling me that there is going to be a few AEG people turning up, so it should be a good week.

Aaron: Yeah, we should have a lot of them, hopefully, so it’ll be fun. It’s always a good time and a great place to learn a lot about sports marketing, and digital, and database, and working with some of the best who do it in the industry.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek News at

Sean: Thanks again to Aaron LeValley from AEG Sports for joining me on the podcast. Please connect with him on LinkedIn. His details will be on the show notes and please check out the shot of him in full LA Kings gear. He was lucky enough to have a skate in the outdoor rink with the stadium series earlier this year. Skating in LA in the middle of summer must have been a surreal experience, and I do think that should be your new LinkedIn avatar, Aaron.

I’m looking forward to catching up with him all the guys at SEAT. As head said there, it’s a really important part of SEAT is the collaboration between the three streams that it offers, the CIO stream, which SEAT generated out of. All the techie guys, guys like Tod Caflisch for the Redwings, and my good friend Kevin Naylor for the Indiana Pacers, they all fire up the propellers and get the geeks going.

But it’s also really important that CRM guys, and guys who have the CRM focus like Aaron, Russell Scibetti, and those kind of guys really drive the CRM track. Then we have really quality digital guys, guys like Dewayne Hankins, who formerly was with the Kings, now at the Trailblazers, Chris Freet from Miami, some of the people that have been guests on the show, they’ll all be there.

So, if you’re working in professional sports it’s really a must attend. I would strongly suggest that you need to send three people there to coverage all the bases. I wish I could split myself in three and attend more of the CIO and CRM sessions, but it’s just not possible yet. We haven’t got cloning for Sports Geek as of yet.

My next interview, actually, is with John Brams, who’s one of the key sponsors of SEAT this year, from Extreme Networks. They formerly were Enterasys. You may have known that name. So we talk about Wi-Fi in stadiums and some of the solutions that stadiums are looking for, but then also looking at the analytics and how people are using Wi-Fi in stadiums. That might help solve the debate between Mark Cuban and Vivek Ranadivé.

DJ Joel: SEAT 2014 Sponsor Series. See you in Miami in July.

Sean: I’m very happy to welcome onto the Sports Geek Podcast John Brams, Director for Extreme Networks. He’s the Director for Sports and Entertainment in Boston. John, welcome to the podcast.

John: Yeah, thanks for having me, Sean.

Sean: So Extreme Networks, it might be a new name on the scene, do you want to give us a little bit of background, because you have been with previously Enterasys Networks for almost 12 years now?

John: Correct. Correct, yes. Recently, Enterasys went through a merger with Extreme Networks. Actually, we were technically acquired by Extreme Networks to come together as one company and be what we are now, is one combined entity. That happened within the last 90 days. It’s a great marriage between two companies that have a long history providing, really, networking solutions in this space. It was a really nice set, because while both have data networking products that exist in the market we had a little different emphasis on what our specialization was, legacy driven.

Enterasys focused a lot on the enterprise, we were very focused on the network management of that environment, and we also had a really strong Wi-Fi offering. In the Extreme side of things, they’re definitely known more so on the wired, definitely an emphasis on the service provider market and high-end datacenter solutions. So, really, from a technology perspective it’s a really nice marriage between two different organizations that with very little crossover that really provides kind of an overall solution for our customers that we really feel people are looking for in the networking space. It’s been very well received in the industry. Our customers are very excited about it, and we’re really excited about our prospects going forward.

Sean: So, John, you’re obviously very much across one of the big problems that has been a discussion point for many years at SEAT around Wi-Fi at stadiums and at venues. Do you want to take us a little bit back, because you have been at the [coal face], you’ll be the one rolling out these networks, what’s your experience on how stadiums are adopting and how teams–I think it was, I can’t remember who said it last year at SEAT, but, “Wi-Fi is becoming a necessity almost the same way as bathrooms at stadiums.” It’s just sort of an expectation of fans. What have you seen in the development over the four or five years, and especially it seems to be accelerating in the last two years or so?

John: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, and I think you’re right. I think people are really starting to view connectivity, really, as a utility, as you suggested. Meaning, when people walk in they expect to have bathrooms, and they expect to have concessions, and there’s certain check off things that there’s expectations that they have when they walk into venues.

I think connectivity is really what people describe it as, although we do hear from people now when they’re asked, particularly from stadium ownership, the biggest thing they’re looking for, they used to just say, “Hey, I want to be able to connect.” But people are actually specific in saying that, “I want Wi-Fi,” because they’re educated enough now to understand there are benefits of Wi-Fi over your traditional sort of cellular experience, both from a bandwidth perspective and also people wanting to preserve their data minutes on their cell plan. So, it’s interesting to see that people have evolved.

I think the other thing that’s happened is the industry has evolved, the technology itself has certainly gotten better, the visibility into it, the business models have changed as well in terms of how people approach it. So I do think it’s evolved a lot. I like to view it as now we’re in the second generation of installing this solution.

I think what you saw over the last couple of years were really the first generation and as what you see with any technology or solution now you’re seeing the second generation, and we’re already starting to talk about the third generation of what we’re going to be in this space. So, it’s an exciting time. We see a tremendous amount of activity in this space, not only in the pro sports and venues, but we’re also starting to see that trickle down into the college market as well.

Sean: So some of the teams that you have worked with, what are some of the challenges with an outdoor stadium, like the Patriots with Gillette Stadium or then the Boston Celtics with an inside stadium, an arena type of experience? Are there different challenges for those? Obviously, the volume of 70,000 people at Gillette, are there different challenges that you face with the stadium owners and the teams in solving those problems?

It isn’t just about connectivity; it isn’t just about being able to connect, it’s now fans doing it, that connectivity is part of the game day experience, like being able to access videos, and highlights, and special in-stadium things. Are there challenges for a large stadium as opposed to an arena style stadium?

John: Yeah. We always say that in this particular market there’s no “one size fits all.” Meaning, you do really have to look from a technology and solution perspective on how you design and what your methodology is for, like you mentioned, and outdoor facility that hosts 80,000 people versus what you might do for an indoor arena that hosts 20,000 people, versus even an indoor venue that hosts 80,000. They have all very different characteristics. They have different architectural challenges.

The other challenge, I think, in an outdoor space, what we did at Gillette Stadium is definitely slightly different than what we did at Lincoln Financial Stadium for the Eagles. And it’s also different for what you would do in a college market. For example, if you think about the generation of when those stadiums were built, places like Lincoln Financial Field and Gillette were built roughly ten years ago, so they have a certain type of architecture design and building materials. Then you go to a college venue that supports 100,000 people that was built 80 years ago, that might be built into the side of a hill. It’s very different in what you might do to solve the connectivity and what you from the design perspective.

Again, the biggest challenge we see in those opportunities is there’s very limited mounting points, for example, where can put access points and antennas, so you have limitations in terms of what you can do and not only from and architectural perspective, but from a design perspective. So we really view each environment as sort of unique opportunities, and they have to have a unique set of design criteria and methodology around it.

I think some people get into problems, because they do this and say, “Well, we solve it way.” While the reality is each environment is going to have some unique things. So we’ve really had to work to design specific technologies that help us resolve indoor versus outdoor, outdoor new and old, outdoor with limited mounting options, and we’ve really had to kind of define these and solve these in different ways. I think that’s the best way to approach the market.

Sean: I want your take. Recently, the NBA All Star game had their technology made up and Vivek Ranadivé, the owner of the Kings, has a real strong view of technology in stadium and the experience that he wants fans to have. That’s completely opposed to Mark Cuban’s view of he wants the fans to be involved in the game and not involved on their smart phones and their devices.

We’re currently going through sports with this analytics renaissance or stats and the stat geeks are really getting out from the on field analytics and the athletes. But can you tell us a little bit about what Extreme is doing with Purview in understanding how fans are using Wi-Fi? Because I think this is the kind of data that’s going to help quell the Mark Cubans of the world and help explain how fans are using the networks in stadiums.

John: Sure, yeah. I view this question as really two different things. When we first starting solving connectivity issues in these high density environments in stadiums, the first thing we needed to resolve–well we’ve already talked about it–really solve for that environment and making sure that you had a connectivity experience that expand and support thousands of users at the same time concurrently.

That itself was a very big challenge, but what we quickly learned–the second thing that immediately happened after that–and in fact, I would even argue it might be more important is, ownership, or people that are running these venues, said, “This is great. We have some information now, but we have little information about what people are truly doing in these environments. What applications are they using? How are they using the network? What’s important to them? What’s their application response time? What’s their network time?”

So there was very little visibility into these environments. If you’re going to justify why made the expense and how well it’s operated, and how you want to leverage it going forward, it’s very difficult to do that without visibility.

If you think back to the traditional model in a stadium or venue where a carrier might provide the network, it was their asset. So in terms of having visibility into that, as part that being their asset, they had ownership of it. Now that we see that trend towards venue operators owning the asset and building it out, we’ve now giving them a tool which we call Purview that gives them visibility into it. Now that we’ve had systems in productions for a couple years, now they have one [rate] of data analytics about answering all those questions.

It’s interesting, we’re really starting to see some things come through where it was sort of this perception versus reality in what people were really doing in the venue and what’s important to them. You’re absolutely right; we’re really to open up our eyes around what people truly want and how they truly using the network versus what I think people thought they would do when they got on it. That’s really what our NFL announcement was about, in terms of our partnership.

Sean: Yeah, so you’re the Wi-Fi analytics partner now for the NFL?

John: Correct. Yeah. Again, if you historically look at it from the NFL perspective they had all these environments, so they had their teams that had networks in place. They’re asking us some of the questions. “We’d love to get a sense of what’s going on in these environments from a visibility and an analytics perspective. We really want to understand what our fans are doing.”

So we started sitting down with them and this conversation started a couple of years ago. Like I said, the conversation was really based around, “How do we solve this connectivity issue?” That’s issue number one. Issue number two is, “How do we get visibility into the analytics going on in our venues?”

That’s really how our relationship came about, was formulating that partnership and providing the analytics visibility into the environments that they can centralize and start to get a better sense, broadly speaking, about what is happening in an environment.

Last year, for example, they put our analytics engine in place at New England, at Gillette Stadium, at Lincoln Financial. They did it at Ford Field in Detroit and then MetLife, obviously, for the Giants and Jets, and it was obviously in place at the Super Bowl. It was interesting; we were able to see some interesting trends come out of that as it relates to usage and consumption based on what we saw, for example, in the Super Bowl.

Sean: Well yeah, I’ve got some of the stats here: 3.2 terabytes transferred. Some really interesting stats on 10% of all Wi-Fi bandwidth was from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You actually broke down what people were doing at kickoff, first quarter, second quarter, halftime, and the like.

The geek in me sort of does laugh that 18% of people were actually running software updates during the Super Bowl. Again, one of the problems of having Wi-Fi: people’s phones just kick in and it starts downloading app updates. It’s the last thing you’d think you’d be doing.

John: Yeah, that’s actually an interesting one, because if you think about it–and I think it’s built into a lot of application–they’re specifically designed to only update when they’re connected to a Wi-Fi network and as you can see a large subset of users, when they come into a stadium environment, we see a massive amount of consumption in terms of just doing software updates on all their apps, because that’s the way they’re built.

So it’s a good example of, “Okay, that’s interesting, so that’s going to happen in a stadium environment.” The stadium operator, while that’s great, they’re seeing usage, that’s probably not a priority for them, so we help them say, “All right, well why don’t we prioritize?” Not that you wouldn’t allow that to happen, but you’re probably more interested in prioritizing, for example, your game day app over a application software update. So those are the things we really help people out with.

Sean: What I was going to say, and I’ll include the infographic from the NFL in the show notes, but it just shows you how–and this is where SEAT should be really great in Miami–how the CIO and the CTO can really help work with the digital team.

I work with a lot of the digital teams in the digital marketing, and the fact that you can prove that you’ve got more of your fans sharing more content and having things like five pictures per second shared up on Instagram via Wi-Fi is a really great case study to say, “This is only going to explode our brands, and it’s the story and the reason why you have to be at the game. You’re making it far easier for the fans to share that experience. They want to do that and you’re just enabling that, and you’re just enabling that.”

So it’s a really good way of making sure that however the CTOs that are rolling out the system and rolling out the Wi-Fi that they get that information and some of those analytics back to the digital tank. Because the fans want to know it. Also, it helps the digital and social guys better justify the running activations in the stadium as opposed to what they’ve done previously is really targeting the fans on the couch. They can now have the ability to run them in-stadium.

John: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a great point and we have some interesting examples of that that sort of support that and help define exactly some of the things you’re seeing from analytics.

So, for example, we saw at the Super Bowl that two and a half times more bandwidth was consumed on the outbound. We basically took the peak hour, which is wrap around halftime, and we saw that two and half more times of bandwidth was going outbound on the Wi-Fi than was going on the DAS, so you started to get a sense, okay, not only were people joining the Wi-Fi, but it’s really, from a data consumption perspective, outbound you’re seeing a significant amount of it happening more over the Wi-Fi than is on the DAS.

Another thing we saw, specific to the Super Bowl, is we’re starting to see that things outside an event can actually impact things within an event. A good example in the Super Bowl was–I don’t know if you remember in the second quarter–U2 announced on TV that you could get a free download of their latest song. That wasn’t actually announced in the stadium, but through social media people saw that. We actually saw that spike happen inside the stadium and it wasn’t even announced. So you’re actually starting to see the impact of social media within and event that happens the venue actually impact user behavior inside. So it’s intriguing.

Sean: I mean, it was sort of expected that the outbound network would be happening, because fans are wanting to share and naturally want to brag. They want to brag that they’re at the Super Bowl or they want to brag that they’re at a game. A lot of the teams are putting a lot of work into their mobile apps to provide content specifically for the fans in the stadium. We saw last year at SEAT the guys at Barclay said that their app completely changes when you’re in-stadium. You have those geo-location settings.

Do you think there’s going to be more app-specific, whether it’s highlights, or pregame shows, or those kinds of things that are going to be, I guess, the next wave? And that’s what you were talking about before, like the third generation where you’re going to enhance the fan in-stadium experience via the mobile app?

John: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we have great examples of that across the board where, the point is, within their app offer content that’s only available in-stadium. Some of it’s convenient; some of it’s unique. We have a good example where they’ve now added bathroom wait times, for example, so that when you’re in-stadium it makes your experience better, so that you can take advantage of where to have the shortest bathroom lines, for example, is built directly into the app.

I think the other trend we’re seeing–not only do you need content, for example video or offering Red Zone in the case of the NFL, or unique video that’s only available, or camera angles–it’s the extension of the game day experience too. I mean, there’s unique stuff available in it, but they’re also trying to extend it so that, for example, when you wake up in the morning you get a wakeup call from your favorite player.

Then there’s traffic updates built in the app. Then there’s parking. Then there are coupons that are available during the game, then there’s wrap up stuff that’s available after the game. So, really extending the game experience as well, and if you put all that stuff in the app, it’s another way to message to your users about really what’s going on in the environment.

Another trend that’s somewhat related to that, that we find interesting is, the adoption rate for Wi-Fi is continuing to rise and we do believe that will continue to rise at a relatively modest perspective. Meaning new users are going to continue to get on the Wi-Fi networks that are on the stadiums, but the more interesting thing is the bandwidth consumption. We’re seeing bandwidth continuing to be consumed so that’s happening at a much higher rate. Now, some of that’s because they can perform better.

A lot of it’s about just the creation of content and what people are doing with the game day app, or with video, or creating content and uploading it to Instagram, for example, so it’s only going to continue to rise. The need and the want for bandwidth will continue to go at that pace. It just shows you what the, again, going back to what expectations are for users as they enter these environments.

Sean: Well, thank you very much, John, for joining me on the podcast. I look forward to catching up with you in Miami at SEAT to discuss this further. As I said, I think it was when I first went to SEAT in 2011 we got a $5 fine we mentioned Wi-Fi and DAS, it was such a big problem, but it’s becoming more and more the norm at most stadiums are having it. So, I’m looking forward to continuing the discussion in Miami.

John: All right. Thank you for your time, Sean. I appreciate it.

DJ Joel: Learn from Sports Geek at our Spots Geek O.D.E. One-Day Educational. Go to

Sean : Thanks again to John there from Extreme Networks. There will be a link to the infographic that we were discussing there with some of the Purview stats from the Super Bowl. As we said, the amount of fans that were downloading updates at the Super Bowl is quite astounding.

Okay, this has been a long episode, and again, if you are lucky enough to be running, apologies, but run that a little bit harder.

This week’s sound of the game comes from the AFL. The season kicked off, as we heard last week chatting with Tyson Densley, Episode 42. The GWS Giants, one of the newcomers on the scene in the AFL, come up against their cross-town rivals, and one of the premature favorites, the Sydney Swans and they caused an upset. Here’s there song after the game.

[Crowd singing victory song 54:46 to 55:19]

Thanks to the Giants for capturing that moment in the rooms after the big win. It’s really a big tradition in the AFL to watch the team sing the theme song, and it’s something that the fans definitely love. So getting that insider access into the change rooms. Terrific work there from Matt at the Giants to bring the fans in to that inner sanctum.

This week’s social media post of the week: we head across to the U.K. and we have Liverpool. Liverpool using comics, a really interesting use of comic form and effectively showing off their fans top moments and great moments in history in a comic strip style format. So I thought that was a real inventive way of getting the fans involved and just presenting content in different manner.

[clock ticking]

So that clock is telling me it is time to wind up this show as we’re just closing in on 57 minutes for this episode. This is Episode 43 of the podcast. As it is with all Sports Geek podcasts, you can simply go to the number to get the show notes and have all the links that I’ve mentioned throughout this episode. So go to

Forty-three, I’ve had a few Carlton fans in my ear this week saying that this episode has to be nominated to Anthony Koutoufides, Carlton legend and former captain. I said, “No Problems.” I will dedicate this episode to Kouta, but I will also show his Souvlaki Hut TV ad in the show notes. It has to be one of the worst athlete adverts you’ve even seen, so if you haven’t seen it, especially those listeners in the U.K. and the U.S., please check out the Anthony Koutoufides’ Souvlaki Hut TV commercial.

And in the comments, please nominate some more bad athlete commercials. I’m more than happy to share them around.

That’s it for this week. Again, one more plug for the Sports Geek ODE, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got some really smart guys in Josh Rowe and Steve Sammartino coming in, giving their point of view on social and digital and how businesses can leverage it.

As I said earlier, the code “MATESRATES” is valid for anybody that you know. Your mates, my mates in this instance.

So for my closing two cents, I’m heading up to Sydney this weekend as the SCG hosts the opening series between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, and I must say, what a transformation. Only a couple of months ago it was hosting the Ashes and now it is officially a ballpark. I’m looking forward to crossing it off my list of number of ballparks. That will make 12 MLB where I’ve an MLB game in. Until next week, my name Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. Thanks for listening. Cheers.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Listen to Beer, Blokes, and Business at Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast.

What will sports look like in the future? – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 18th March 2014

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