Sources of Data in Sports Marketing

Sports stand to gain significant benefits from the increased availability of community data through blogging sites, social network trends, and content communities. This is evidenced by the fact that, in 2019, three of the top ten most searched stories on the Internet were related to sports (Moreno, 2019). In response, sports leagues are increasingly turning to digital programming to engage and connect with fans. Digital programming is essentially media found online such as websites, social media, and sports apps.  The majority of sports fans interact on social media, which demonstrates the platform’s effectiveness in facilitating engagement. Iconic soccer teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona have amassed over 210 million Facebook and Twitter followers each, emphasizing the reach and impact of social media platforms in the world of sports. Brock and Khan (2017) have identified social media as a vast source of big data that can be utilized to derive insights and inform decision-making in sports.

The second development in sports data involves the utilization of private data collected within sports organizations through recording consumer transactions. This is achieved through the use of clickstream to categorize visits by location, purchase, search, and the use of mobile applications. Clickstream data is the information collected about a user while they browse through a website or use a web browser (Gillis, 2022). The emergence and popularity of technology have contributed to the digitalization of sports, granting access to customers’ and firms’ digital interactions (Lazer and Radford, 2017). This interconnectedness of sports leagues and customers through digital platforms allows teams and sponsors to gather and share unique information. DeSchriver et al. (2021) provide an example of the potential benefits of this approach by collecting daily performance data on hotel occupancy rates and average daily rates to examine the impact of Southeastern Conference college football games on local hotel demand from 2003 to 2017. This study collected data from the hotel management analytics firm Smith Travel Research (STR), which represents proprietary data in the tourism and hospitality industry. The study highlights the use of volume and variety data to advance demand literature in sport and hospitality.

The third area of data availability in sports comes from a variety of sources such as government, research funding agencies, professional societies, universities, individual researchers, and other public data repositories. Uhlir and Schröeder (2007) have suggested that publicly funded data can be beneficial for reuse by a broad range of researchers, socioeconomic applications, and the general public. Large datasets related to sports have been published by the National Collegiate Athletic Association,, and official university websites. For instance, Jensen et al. (2020) collected 169,479 observations to explore donor behavior in the intercollegiate athletic industry. The study found that the probability of donor contraction increases with decreasing economic growth. Additionally, public data repositories offer historical and other data for professional and Olympic sports, as well as all co-educational postsecondary institutions that receive Title IV funding and have an intercollegiate athletics program. Overall, sport marketing researchers can benefit significantly from using public data produced by various entities to enhance the quality and productivity of research. (Mamo et al., 2021).

While there has been progress in collecting data from community, private, and public sources, there are still many opportunities for continued contributions. Sports blog websites and fan-hosted podcasts are emerging as potential sources of valuable data that can help sport marketers uncover fans’ opinions and create new business opportunities. This data on fans’ opinions can be gathered through comments and deciphering the positive from the negative feedback through tools such as sentiment analysis. The data collected can also be expanded from text data to image, audio, and video data from various sources (Mamo et al., 20221). This would allow researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the role that different forms of media play in the world of sports marketing.