How Sports Teams are Using Data to Drive Revenue and Goodwill During Covid-19

Pictures of fans, players, coaches and staff of Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach are seen at Borussia-Park in Mönchengladbach, Germany, on April 28, 2020. Christian Verheyen—Borussia Mönchengladbach/Getty Images

Sports teams across all leagues and countries are facing the same unprecedented challenge as their stadiums sit empty and fans yearn for game day: how can sports organizations drive revenue and fan engagement as the world finds solutions to the pandemic?

According to Forbes, the NFL will lose an eye-popping $5.5 billion in stadium revenue if games continue without fans in the stands. That sum comprises revenue from ticket sales, food and beverage concessions, corporate sponsorships, parking fees, and team merchandise, adding up to 38% of the NFL’s total revenue.

While finances are the most critical component at stake, it’s impossible to put a dollar number on the fan spirit, passion, and dedication sitting gloomily on the sidelines. More than ever, people need a common cause that will unite, entertain, distract, and offer hope. For many, they look to their sports heroes, teams, and leagues for inspiration during hard times.

As a result, many teams have rolled their sleeves up and gotten creative with different ways to accommodate unique fan needs while also providing the camaraderie the world is seeking. Here are four examples of how sports organizations all over the world have grabbed the attention of fans.


Green Bay Packers

While their signature cheesehead hats hang in the closet, Packer Nation knew their fans were missing the game, but also facing uncertain financial times. To help protect fans while also offering a new avenue for team spirit, the Packers sent out face masks with their signature green and gold logo to every season ticket holder. To further help fans with pinched finances, they also extended season ticket payment plans. Even better, a 3-pack of Packer masks are available for $24.99, with all NFL sales proceeds going to support the CDC Foundation. Go Pack!


Germany’s Pro Soccer League

With German soccer fans missing their favorite sport, fans of the Borussia Mönchengladbach, the German club that sits in fourth in the Bundesliga (Germany’s pro soccer league) standings, are being given a unique opportunity to safely show their face should games resume to empty stadiums. For only 19 euros, fans are able to purchase a cardboard cutout likeness that will sit in the stadium. It is as easy as donning a jersey and scarf, taking a picture, and uploading the image online with your purchase. Opposing fans are also welcome to snatch up seats and “boo” the team from the seats. So far, the campaign has been a smashing success with over 10,000 orders, and this gives fans an additional incentive to tune in to future televised games.


Premier Lacrosse League

In a move that grabbed headlines, the Premier Lacrosse League took an April Fool’s Day prank and turned it into $50,000 in sales in just 24 hours. The league announced the arrival of an “eighth” team for its second season, the Beans Lacrosse Club. The elaborate prank included everything an actual league team would offer: a logo, slogan, website, merchandise, YouTube announcement from the league co-founder, and a formal press release. Social media also played a large role with Beans team accounts, graphics for player announcements, league content, and fake Bean-centric trade deals. Not only did the prank engage and delight fans, it also marked the highest e-commerce store traffic day in league history by over 30%.


When it comes to getting creative, these campaigns will only be the beginning for sports organizations during the 2020 season. If and when stadiums reopen, they will do so with strict guidelines that will further test the ingenuity of teams everywhere.

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