3 Market Research Options for the Sports Industry

The world of sports and entertainment is an ever-changing one. There has always been the need to evolve and adapt as audiences and economics shift over time. 

That’s where market research comes into play. See what I did there?

Now, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, flexibility in the sports world is needed to succeed and survive.

Here are three market research options that will encourage data-driven decision-making.

3 Market Research Options  for the Sports Industry

Reasons for Conducting Market Research in Sports

In 2020 we witnessed championship games in empty arenas and saw stadiums filled with cardboard cutouts.

TV ratings dipped considerably for what would normally be annual highlights, like the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals.

Now, more than ever, sports teams, leagues, and stadiums around the country can benefit from conducting different types of market research.

Here's why.

Better Understand Your Current Fan Base

Who are the people that cheer on your team each week? Where in the world are these people located? Why did they choose you over the other teams?

Acquiring this information will help you paint a more descriptive picture of your fanbase.

It can be difficult to establish a relationship with your fans if aren’t at least somewhat familiar with who they are.

And as demographics change, it is important to keep a pulse on the makeup of your fans.

The people supporting you now may not be the same as those who supported you a few years ago.

Get More Out Of Sponsorships

The symbiotic relationship of sponsorships in the sports industry is generally simple: a professional sports league or team receives money in exchange for allowing the sponsor to use the league or the team’s professional property.

Conducting an online survey to highlight KPIs, for example, can help showcase your team’s geographic reach as well as the impact your team has on the lives of those in your fanbase. 

By proving your team commands the TV ratings and has consistently high attendance at events, you’ll be able to make a solid case for a longer, larger sponsorship.

Get More Fans, Sell More Tickets

Understanding the people in your fanbase is extremely important, and so is learning about those who are not.

Maybe they support another team, or perhaps they are just not that interested in the sport.

The best way to find out how these people feel about your team is by asking!

Once you know more about them, you can tailor marketing initiatives in an effort to attract them to your team.

With more people supporting your team, you’ll have a greater chance of selling more tickets and filling up the stands.

Market Research Methodologies for Sports Teams

Intercept Surveys

What better way to gauge the fan experience than by going directly to the source?

Intercept surveys are a great way to capture thoughts and opinions from fans in real-time.

An intercept survey is conducted typically after approaching an individual at a public place, like at the exit of a stadium or arena for example.

An interviewer can ask the respondent the questions in-person or have them fill out a survey on paper.

As fans begin to be welcomed back to live, in-person sporting events, intercept surveys can prove especially useful when trying to understand what types of fans are coming back out on the game day.

Read more about the intercept survey project our team conducted with college football stadiums across the country: College Football Intercept Surveys Case Study.

college foodball stadium intercept surveys

Focus Groups

A focus group is a deliberately selected group of people who come together to discuss any given topic in a small group setting, typically lead by a moderator who guides the discussion.

Also, a great alternative to in-person group discussions is online focus groups.

Focus groups allow for an intimate setting where participants can feel as though their voice matters and is being heard.

There are several ways focus groups can be conducted in the sports industry.

For example, you could have a group of individuals who do not attend games or watch sporting events who give their opinion on a certain team or league’s image to gauge how your team appears to people outside of the sports world.

Or, you could gather a group of avid fans to discuss what they like best about the game day experience at a live event.

Geofencing Surveys

As more people carry smartphones, the greater the opportunity to obtain feedback from fans.

With a geofencing survey, a market research company like Drive Research can create a virtual boundary around a stadium or arena and notify individuals in the specified area that they have been invited to take a survey.

Geofencing has recently become an alternative to in-person intercept surveys, especially as organizations attempt to cut down in-person interactions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn more about this methodology in the short video below.

Find the Right Methodology with Drive Research

Drive Research is a sports market research company located in New York. Our team of experts has the sports industry knowledge needed to design a robust market research study, and deliver the insights your organization needs.

To receive a market research proposal or to schedule a free consultation call - contact us below!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Devan Grant

Devan's love for learning serves him well as a market research professional. With two years of both quantitative and qualitative research in the healthcare space under his belt, he knows what it takes to answer some of the toughest market research questions.

Learn more about Devan, here.

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