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We’ve heard the all too familiar story: sports team struggles…embraces analytics…changes personnel…wins more games…agrees to be followed around for a book and cast for a movie…lives happily ever after. It all sounds great in practice – but the real analytics story takes place behind closed doors and is much more comprehensive than you ever knew.
Take Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks – who have jumped proactively into the analytics game and are discovering new insights that many other NBA teams are just starting to uncover.
“I hired a big data analyst and one of her jobs is to look at pricing data that we generate internally and also from third party resale markets. So then we can see demand for different types of games, what the impact of weather is, which seats are selling more, which seats [should] get a premium [for] which games and then price our tickets optimally: so the perfect price is what the market defines. That’s a big change historically for sports teams because traditionally we just set one price for every ticket and that’s what it is…but a Mavs/Spurs game is going to have more demand than a Mavs/Cleveland Cavaliers game is going to have. And if that game is on a weekend it’s going to have more demand than if it’s on a Monday. So we’re becoming a lot more cognizant and using big data, just becoming smart in our analytics and defining our pricing.”
Cuban isn’t stopping at hiring an analyst to monitor ticket prices and market fluctuations. His Mavericks were also on the cutting edge when it comes to on-the-court analytics: namely real-time player tracking using SportVU cameras – which has since become a very popular topic in the data visualization community. As written on Mavs.com in November 2013, Cuban’s Mavericks pioneered the technology in 2009-10 and the NBA followed suit by adding the technology to all 29 NBA arenas in 2013. Also in 2013, the Mavs announced that they were going to be the first NBA team to have its players wear a wristwatch called Readiband in order to monitor fatigue through sleeping patterns over the course of the season.
These new insights are leading to more informed decisions on the part of the Mavericks, in multiple departments, from basketball operations to ticket sales. On November 19 at Qlik World Conference, Cuban will dive deeper into his fondness for analytics and the organizational efficiencies it has created as a result.