Sports fans


A game plan for enhancing fan engagement

Learn how sports teams can identify and engage their fans to help improve business results.

Home field advantage is no longer simply packing a stadium or arena with your best fans. It’s about engaging distinct groups of fans inside and outside the game venue, during winning and “rebuilding” seasons, 365 days a year. No two sports fans are alike, and sports organizations should be agile in adapting and evolving their offerings to address different fan segments.

In 2015, Deloitte conducted primary research with more than 4,000 adult US professional sports fans whose interests span the five major US sports leagues. We asked respondents about their attitudes and behaviors—in-season and off-season, in-stadium and out—to explore the links that bind affinity and engagement for professional sports fans and to understand how teams’ and leagues’ approaches to fan engagement should evolve in order to create greater value for fans and teams alike.

Deloitte’s survey found that while fewer than 10 percent of fans of each of the five major leagues participate in any type of sports loyalty program, two-thirds would be open to participating if the incentives were right. That means there’s headroom to make fans happier. Sports organizations have the potential to engage fans in a more targeted and effective way all year round. But getting there will likely take more than incremental changes to existing programs.

To connect and deepen their organization’s relationship with fans, CMOs should:

  • Know their target: To design effective engagement strategies and programs, teams must be clear–and specific–regarding the fans with whom they seek a relationship.
  • Make it personal: Design programs to engage to individuals; programs aimed at everyone run the risk of speaking to no one.
  • Think holistically about the experience: The live game experience is a focal point for fan interaction, but don’t forget what lies beyond it.
  • Engage year-round: Meaningful relationships don’t start and stop with the sports season.
  • Recognize loyalty: Teams should recognize, reward, and record each fan interaction.

Learn more about affinity and engagement for professional sports fans by redefining your home field advantage.

Published on April 18, 2016.

Pete Giorgio, Ramya Murali, and Kathryn Freeman, Redefining home field advantage: A game plan for enhancing engagement​.

Did you find this informative?