INTERVIEW: Bill Nielsen- Senior Vice President – Fan Manager/ Raptor Ventures

By: Brian Clapp, Director of Content,

The San Antonio Spurs while on their path to five NBA titles in 16 years, have been guided by one of the most iconic leaders in sports. With a personality that is best described as gruff, Gregg Popovich appears to be the embodiment of the old guard, a coach teaching the game as James Naismith and Norman Dale would have wanted.Reality and perception don’t always mix.Bill NielsenIn reality, Popovich could be considered a leader of the analytics revolution in the NBA, meshing his coaching chops with deep statistical analysis to develop aorganizational philosophy and process to get the most efficient response from his players. For example, the Spurs altered their offense to rely on the corner three after they determined through data analysis it was the most efficient shot in the game. Thy were also one of the first teams to embrace SportVu camera technology to track player movements during games and use GPS technology to monitor activity in practice and chart exertion.

In sports, analytics aren’t just the fodder for a Brad Pitt movie, they are a winning formula embraced by a vast majority of teams across all leagues. But the data mining revolution isn’t limited to the court, field or arena, the analytics action happens off the court too.

“Moneyball certainly opened a lot of public eyes to the use of analytics in sports,” says Bill Nielsen, SVP of Sales at “But that’s on the player side. On the business side, there is atangible effort from properties to professionalize their analytics chops and this is really just in the last 3-5 years. The opportunity for platforms like Fan Manager to fill up the toolbox for these professionals is significant.”

Fan Manager uses analytics in a different manner, they don’t care about on base percentage or wins above replacement, but they do care about the data they can collect from a team’s fan base and use it to turn the extra layers of knowledge into revenue.

“Teams sell tickets, sell merchandise and have social followers – but how many social followers that live close to the venue also bought a ticket?” ponders Nielsen. “Fan Manager answers those questions and does so via an elegant and easy-to-use interface so teams can segment, better understand and target those consumers.”

raptor_venturesThere is great power that comes from understanding an organizations fan base. The goal of successful sports franchises isn’t just to win games, it’s to increase revenue and Fan Manger helps teams accomplish this goal.

“We are well positioned to help properties with however they want to identify and monetize their fans,” says Nielsen. “Selling tickets is the most obvious path but if a team wants to also focus on selling more merchandise, incentivizing social influencers to attend non-game events or getting more kids to off-season camps, for example, we can do that as well.”

Let’s say you are the Washington Capitals, and you have knowledge of fans in the area who buy your merchandise but don’t buy tickets. You know they are fans enough to buy merchandise – how hard would it be to turn them into ticket buyers? Armed with this information, you could offer these local fans deals on tickets and turn them into game day participants.

Or maybe you are the Boston Celtics, and you are looking to sell some arena sponsorship. As you approach potential partners wouldn’t it be beneficial to be armed with deep data on how your fan base directly correlates with a potential sponsor’s business?

These are just a few of the ways successful teams are optimizing their business and activating their fan base with Fan Manager.Fan-Manager

“We are using Fan Manager to sell unsold tickets on game day. Our understanding of our fan base is helping us appeal to new sponsors, ” Kara Hutchinson, Director of Strategic Marketing Boston Celtics.

“Assisting with potential sponsorship deals is a key priority for Fan Manager,” informs Nielsen. “We bring together all of the third party data the property uses specifically for corporate partners and combine that with fan records to provide a compelling view of real fans to current and potential sponsors.”

Just like teams have embraced analytics on the field of play, so too have they wrapped their arms around the potential of analytics in team operations, sales, marketing and e-commerce. With a roster of clients that includes teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL and Serie A, Fan Manager is leading the way in business intelligence and marketing automation for fan-based organizations.


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Megan Meisse

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