Is data going to invade stadiums?

by bold-lichterman

On Sunday July 13, 2014, Germany won against Argentina and won the FIFA World Cup. One thing may have made the difference: the use of data. And yes, in anticipation of the international competition, the Mannschaft was equipped with software developed by SAP to guide the team coach, Joachim Löw in his decisions.

In fact, the use of the famous “Big data” has two supposed aspects of use in the sports field: the optimization of sports performance on the one hand and a marketing adjustment on the other.

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Marc Gelgon

Some clubs are now recruiting “data scientists”

On the training side, data is collected by video capture, and by placing sensors and RFID labels on players’ clothing. “Research has been carried out for about fifteen years and today we are able to collect data (perspiration, heart and respiratory rates, etc.) via miniaturized physiological sensors” explains Marc Gelgon, teacher-researcher at the Polytech’Nantes IT department . “In handball we analyze what happened during the 20 seconds before a goal to draw conclusions. In this regard, algorithmic methods lead to automation that goes beyond what humans could do, ”he continues.

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Patrice Poiraud

If the observation of games a posteriori and the use of statistics is nothing new, the ability to exploit a very large amount of data by an algorithm capable of making suggestions and helping decision-making broadens indeed the field of possibilities. The images are submitted to software which analyzes the trajectories of the opponents, the geometry of the game, the way in which the players occupy the field, etc. Some clubs are now recruiting “data scientists” to sharpen their tactics, like the Oakland Athletics baseball team.

The Waratahs rugby team in Australia are using the data to try and prevent the risk of injury. “The Leicester City Football Club team collects the data to recognize the level of physical fatigue of the players,” said Patrice Poiraud, IBM’s Big Data and Analytics Director. Like SAP, the American multinational has positioned itself in this market by supporting teams since 2012. The cost of the equipment varies between several hundreds of thousands of euros in the case of a purchase of a technology, and several tens of thousands. euros in the case of the rental of a service via the cloud, considers Patrice Poiraud. In France, the Rugby Club Toulonnais has employed a statistician for more than 6 years to analyze the game of the club’s sportsmen, they have been equipped with GPS at each match for about two years in order to capture their actions on the field and to quantify the performance of every player. Olympique Lyonnais players are also equipped with GPS to monitor their physical performance.

Serena Williams uses data to train

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Erwann Menthéour

Start-ups are also developing technologies to exploit its physiological data, such as Fitnext, the start-up founded by Erwann Menthéour. “We use the data to reduce the declarative field, this allows us to become predictive and to make machine learning »Explains the former cyclist. “We correlate the declarative data, with those from the self tracking, to do data mining and be able to personalize our programs as much as possible, ”he continues.

Besides football and rugby, other high-level mainstream sports use the data: tennis (by Serena Williams in particular), golf, basketball, baseball. In other words, sports for which there is also a marketing issue. Because the financial stakes are also there: to ensure that the fans who attend the stadiums are more and more involved with the brand and consume more and more when they come to the stadiums. Since 2012, IBM has been working with the Miami Dolphins, for example, to integrate “big data”, to use a fashionable term, into the operation of the Sun Life stadium near Miami Florida.

“The difference that big data makes is that we are able to use a very large mass of data, structured or not, in real time. We can thus adjust the way we will stock the stadium’s points of sale, guide visitors to optimize the flow of movement in the stadium, etc. ”describes Patrice Poiraud. “I think the clubs will take an interest in the evolution of marketing via data to find additional sources of income, boost the average basket of consumers in the stadiums” adds Hubert Munyazikwiye, from the Akqa digital agency. Emarsys, Atypics, Digitick and others are currently approaching clubs to offer their solutions.

Big data much more used in the United States

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Yann Abdourazakou

Some take the opportunity to send targeted advertisements to Wi-Fi users, et cetera. “The action of the supporters is traced in the stadium thanks to the free access to Wi-Fi, we can then guide them to the toilets where there is no queue, to the hot spots where there are still hot dogs … this is called hospitality management. For example, it is applied at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco ”indicates Yann Abdourazakou, sports marketing teacher at the Canisius College from New York. “In the United States, sports marketing is much more developed than in France, we are in another galaxy,” he underlines this former teacher at the University of Lille Nord.

Sports equipment manufacturers are also following this development: “there is a culture change in the way we design training, all equipment is becoming connected: rackets, golf clubs, etc.” recalls Yann Abdourazakou. “Nike, with fuelband, is less and less a sports company but more and more a technology company,” he said. The brand has announces the abandonment of this connected watch in April, but this indeed focuses on the development of its programming interface (API) for connected clothing Nike +, which notably integrates NikeFuel. The American firm continues its research towards more and more technological products, as described Tea Guardian in an article published in February. She is riding on the trend of ” quantified self“, Which is not new in itself but has taken off again with the emergence of social networks. Nike + also has an API and has launched a competition to encourage start-ups to use data from its sports social network. Adidas is also positioned on this aspect quantified self with her Fit Smart, announced in July.

Clubs shared on the use of data for marketing purposes

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Serge Valentin

If some brands believe in it, what do their prospects, the managers of sports clubs think? Benjamin Larrue, Marketing and Communication Director of Rugby Club Toulonnais assures us: “The capture and then the cross-referencing of data for marketing purposes is a real axis of development for the clubs but it requires financial and human resources. In France, we have fallen behind what is being done in the United States and Germany (in football), at RC Toulonnais we want to develop this part of marketing. We are currently meeting with several providers to study their proposals ”. He explains that discussions are underway at the level of the national rugby league to make a group order of all the Top 14 clubs, but budget disparities are a problem. In Toulon, the club has a commercial and marketing budget of 10 million euros per year (out of a total of 30 million), which is far from being the case with many clubs.

“In France, we have a handicap: the stadiums are not equipped for data-based marketing” underlines Serge Valentin, organizer of the Sport Numericus event. According to him, the Stade de France has already invested to digitize the 8,000 VIP seats in the enclosure, but if it wanted to equip the 80,000 seats in the stadium it would cost it 7 to 8 million euros and there ” the brake today is the ROI ”he recalls.

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Vincent-Baptiste Closon

“The Stade des Lumières – whose delivery is scheduled for late 2015 / early 2016 – will be the first in France to be equipped to carry out data-based sports marketing,” says Vincent-Baptiste Closon, Marketing Director of Olympique Lyonnais. . 500 Wi-Fi points will be installed in this 58,000-seat stadium to allow up to 25,000 simultaneous connections thanks to a technological partnership with Orange. Individualized promotions will be sent to supporters’ smartphones, they will be able to order shirts or sandwiches from their seats, and review goals on demand during the match ”.

But not all players are ready to invest in data mining. Some club marketing managers trust off do not believe in their use for sports marketing purposes, believing that digital makes it possible to storytelling, of the’entertainment but they expect more from data applied to sport than a simple marketing lever to increase sales in stadiums.

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