Sports Business

The business, economics and culture of Super Bowl 50

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The business, economics and culture of Super Bowl 50

1. Super Bowl 50 is set to be a classic matchup of old vs new, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos pitted against hot-handed Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. And if you want to see this game in person, it will cost you. According to VividSeats.com, a secondary market for sports and entertainment, and SeatGeek, SB50 is shaping up to be the most expensive in NFL history. The cheapest ticket available for the Feb. 7 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is $3,224, and the most expensive comes in at a whopping $12,785, as of this past Monday. The website’s median price for tickets sold thus far is $4,180 — the cheapest seat in the house was sold for $3,000 in the upper level corner of the 49ers' home. Of those who have already bought tickets from the website, 37 percent are from California, 8 percent are from Texas and Florida each, and 7 percent and 6 percent are from Illinois and New York, respectively.

2. While a significant portion of NFL fans will never be fortunate enough to see their team make it all the way to the Super Bowl, those who are lucky enough will not be able to follow their team to the big game for nothing. Immediately following their wins this past Sunday, both the Panthers and Broncos posted travel packages for its fans through PrimeSport, a Los Angeles-based sports travel packager. The cheapest option comes in at $180 per person, which merely buys you a ticket to your team’s pregame tailgate in the parking lot. If you wanted to actually go to the game as well, buying the cheapest seat available, that number jumps all the way up to $3,507.50. If you wanted to fly to San Jose, arriving for the pregame and departing immediately after, that number begins to hover are the $6,000 marker — being more expensive for Charlotte fans than Denver fans. Three-night land packages (no flight) at each team’s three hotels ranging from $5,935 to $6,805 per person for Carolina fans at the Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf, Embassy Suites at Burlingame or the Sir Francis Drake on Union Square or $5,795 to $5,995 per person for Denver fans at the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf or Marriott Marquis in San Francisco. No matter how you want to approach the prospect of attending Super Bowl 50, it sure won’t be cheap.

3. With Super Bowl 50 quickly approaching in the next few weeks, the event’s host committee — in collaboration with in/PACT and Citizen Group, has launched “Play Your Part,” a campaign focusing on reducing impact on climate change by delivering a low emissions event and responsibly using materials and resources, all while inspiring fans to embrace sustainability themselves. Prizes will be given out by the event’s host committee to leading fans that enter and engage in the campaign. Sustainability Director for the Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and President of in/PACT Sports & Entertainment Neill Duffy spoke about “Play Your Part’s” course of action leading up to the game. “We’re asking fans to do three things ... take action, choose your cause, win prizes. Fans take action by either: a) taking a pledge to do something sustainable, e.g. host a sustainable SB party, or b) actually do something sustainable when visiting Super Bowl City, e.g. leave the car at home, bring their own reusable water bottle or recycle responsibly.” The Super Bowl’s host site, Levi's Stadium, is the perfect venue to foster this campaign, as it became the first stadium in the United States that is home to a professional football team to receive LEED Gold certification upon construction.

4. Super Bowl 50’s reach is going to span far beyond Levi's Stadium, as events will range all the way from the Embarcadero in San Francisco to Mission College in Santa Clara, hitting various other Silicon Valley hot spots along the way. The area has prepared by already designating a special lane on Highway 101 between San Francisco and San Jose for buses and limousines heading to the game. Meanwhile, the Valley Transit Authority is prepared to transport exactly 12,000 passengers to Levi’s on Super Bowl Sunday via VTA’s train system. A round trip transport to and from the game on these trains will cost a mere $20 and is set to be one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of getting the football’s new mecca. Santa Clara council member Lisa Gillmor spoke of her anxiety and excitement surrounding her city’s hospitality. "I'm nervous but optimistic that Santa Clara is going to come through this with shining colors," she said. "I want to make sure that we showcase our city to the country and the world."

5. With recent hard-hitting storms on the East Coast, more bad weather is expected to make its way to the Bay Area just in time for Super Bowl 50. In a front-page newspaper piece in the San Francisco Chronicle this past week, Alexander & Rubenstein noted the likely chance that the days surrounding the matchup “will be significantly wetter than normal.” But NFL officials were quick to note that they “have contingencies in place for rain, from the new weather-tested turf laid at Levi’s Stadium to plans to keep the microphones dry for Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars during the halftime show.” While there is still a chance that the heavy rains foil out or miss Levi's Stadium and the surrounding area completely, the NFL is preparing for any possible weather pattern that might hit. “The football gods have been with us throughout the history of the Super Bowl. We’ve been fortunate to not have the weather as a factor,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “And if it is a factor, well, that’s football.”

6. There are two reasons why people watch the Super Bowl: for the game itself and for the advertisements that come in between the action. This year, a few lesser-known brands will take their chances, spending big bucks to market their product during one of the world’s most-watched events. Bai, the maker of low-calorie health beverages, will make its first Super Bowl appearance with a 30-second commercial. The commercial will be "a new entry in Bai's 'None of This Makes Sense' campaign." Employing the shop's "trademark absurdist humor, the work presented oddball characters in weird situations asking why Bai — brimming with antioxidants and packing only five calories — tastes so good." Similarly, SoFi, a student-loan refinancing, mortgage and personal loan company, will ramp up “a $20 million TV and digital ad effort with a spot during Super Bowl 50 ... spending about 20 percent of its annual ad budget on the Super Bowl push," noted Suzanne Vranica of the Wall Street Journal.

7. After missing its chance last year, Snapchat has changed its sales tactics in order to capitalize on the Super Bowl’s popularity, according to Garett Sloane of Digiday. With Marriott, Budweiser, Pepsi and Amazon signed on as sponsors, the increasingly popular social media platform has sold out its Live Story with the NFL for Super Bowl 50. Video advertisements for participating companies are set to run in between the game’s Live Story. Budweiser will only be allowed to advertise to users who are 21 years or old, drastically decreasing their reach for the Broncos-Panthers matchup. Financial details have not yet been released for these advertising partners, but the overall revenue for Snapchat is expected to reach the “low seven figures” for the whole offered package. Sources said that Snapchat for this year's game "switched tactics" from targeting a single sponsor and instead "looked for multiple sponsors" in an attempt to bring in more revenue, citing the more sponsors, the more money.

8. Superstition is a real thing in sports, and the Super Bowl is certainly no exception to that. Broncos executive vice president and general manager John Elway is taking no chances of bad luck when his team squares off with the Panthers, hence his decision to wear white vs. the Panthers. Elway spoke earlier this week on that decision, saying, “We’ve had Super Bowl success in our white uniforms, and we’re looking forward to wearing them again in Super Bowl 50.” The Broncos have worn their home orange jerseys on four separate occasions in blowout Super Bowl losses. The last time they won in white was in the 1998 championship — overall in the Super Bowl, Denver is 0-4 in orange, 1-1 in white and 1-0 in blue.

9. While NFL players have been increasingly fined these past few years for excessive celebrations after touchdowns and big plays, one company is actually promoting excessive celebrations in the Super Bowl. This past week, Nestle’s Butterfinger brand announced that it plans to cover “up to $50,000 in excessive celebration fines levied against NFL players through Super Bowl 50” as part of its “Bolder Than Bold” Super Bowl campaign, according to Adweek.com. Former NFL receiver Terrell Owens, largely known for his own planned excessive celebrations, and comedian Billy Eichner were selected to make this announcement on behalf of Butterfinger. Owens and Eichner were seen on the streets of New York City asking people to show off their boldest end-zone celebrations in exchange for a Butterfinger bar. The campaign is certainly innovative, as this marks a first for a company willingly picking up players’ fine tabs.

10. Digital and online advertising has exploded these past few years, as platforms and companies are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate ads all around the web. After hitting a record 840 million minutes of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, the platform has once again elected to bring back YouTube AdBlitz — a YouTube channel and separate website where fans can view and vote for their favorite ads before they air on game day. While this service has been available each of the last seven years, Tara Walpert Levy, managing director of agency sales at Google, said its reach has grown exponentially in recent years. Last year alone, people watched the equivalent of 1,600 years of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, and nearly 40 percent of that viewing time actually occurred before the game itself, with another 300,000 hours of ads watching during the game. With last year’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks being the most-watched broadcast in television history, it makes sense for YouTube to capitalize on this opportunity.

Why Cirque du Soleil, NFL experience could come to Chicago

Why Cirque du Soleil, NFL experience could come to Chicago

With the success of the NFL Draft going mobile, the league may eventually decide to take another NFL experience on the road.

The NFL has partnered up with Cirque du Soleil to launch an interactive exhibit in New York City this fall.

The attraction, titled NFL Experience Times Square, will include interactive screens, an auditorium for 4D shows, coaches clinics, autograph sessions and much more.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

CSN Sports Business Insider Rick Horrow explains why taking the experience on the move could be a good thing for the franchise value of the Bears.

"This is an example of a $25 billion NFL business joint-venturing with another pioneer in the entertainment industry Cirque du Soleil to make it better," Horrow explained. "Here's the case, because the NFL Draft has become mobile with Chicago leading the way, then Philadelphia, the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, you can't believe it's not an opportunity for potentially doing this NFL experience along the streets of Madison Avenue, along State Street, as well as Michigan Avenue.

"How about downtown Chicago on the way to other places."

Watch the video above to see what else Horrow had to say about the NFL Experience possibly coming to Chicago.

Sports business: Using targeted promotions to earn more dollars

Sports business: Using targeted promotions to earn more dollars

In Monday's episode of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Fresh Air Joseph Turow, professor of communications and associate dean for graduate studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, ominously "Warns That Brick-And-Mortar Stores Are Watching You."

While this may seem a bit like the real-life equivalent of "Big Brother" from George Orwell's book 1984, Turow is describing the reality that the tracking companies do in e-commerce has moved more fully into the offline stores. Using technology including mobile applications, iBeacons, loyalty cards, geo-targeting, and geo-fencing companies have more information about customers in-store buying and behavioral patterns. This enables companies to design targeted adds and promotions specifically tailored to customers that can increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

While the ethical implications of this activity would require and entirely separate blog post, Turow and host Terry Gross discussed an important idea that comes from having this technology. In the past, companies have focused on rewarding and retaining loyal customers. Those are the customers that keep coming back and buying a company's products or service offerings. Because the cost of keeping a customer has been much lower than attracting a customer it would seem to make sense that companies would want to focus on keeping the customer's they have.

However, this may no longer be the optimal strategy for maximizing revenue growth. Instead, companies should be focused on the marginal customer rather than the most loyal customer. A loyal customer is loyal for a reason – he / she likes the company's service offerings. Why spend money on advertising and promotions if that person is already likely going to buy the product anyway?

Instead, targeted promotions should be focused on customers that will only make a purchase if they are influenced in the right way. For example, let's say a customer is indecisive about buying a pair of jeans. In the past, this customer may have tried a pair of jeans on and then left the store without purchasing them. Now, a customer can download a company's app to access additional content, deals, and other helpful information. In return for delivering these benefits the company can receive information from the app that shows the location of the person while he/she is in a store. It can then use a geo-fence, a virtual fence that surrounds a geographic area, to determine when a customer leaves a specific geographic area. If this customer leaves the store without making purchase after spending a certain amount of time (i.e. the time to try on the jeans) then the company could send a targeted ad saying that the customer has 15 minutes to come back to purchase the jeans at a 15 percent discount. Essentially, companies now can identify "disloyal" customers and then attempt to bring them back to stores to make purchases.

Using technology to reward "disloyal" customers is something that sports organizations need to increasingly focus on given the demands of the business. More specifically, there are loyal fans that are going to buy tickets, watch games, and purchase merchandise even if they do not see any advertising from a team. These customers add significant value and should not be ignored. However, sports organizations want to focus on targeting the marginal customer using new technology to encourage ticket sales, in-venue purchases and increase game viewership.

The added benefit of using technology and customer outreach in this way is that it should increase sponsorship revenue as well. Not only can sports organizations use targeted promotions to help their current sponsors expand reach, but organizations can also show how these targeted marketing efforts cause lifts in purchasing. For sports teams, clearly communicating how sponsorship/marketing assets are used to create a lift in sales provides powerful evidence of how similar tactics can drive new revenue for partners. Rewarding "disloyalty" seems counter-intuitive, but there are many ways that targeting marginal customers should lead to substantial revenue growth.

Adam is the CEO and Founder of Block Six Analytics. He is also a lecturer for Northwestern University's Masters of Sports Administration and the co-author of The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders For A High-Performance Industry.