Keeping 'Em on the Team: Customer Loyalty in Sports Is Harder Than It Seems

By Lager, Marshall | CRM Magazine, September 2016 | Go to article overview

Keeping 'Em on the Team: Customer Loyalty in Sports Is Harder Than It Seems


Lager, Marshall, CRM Magazine


SEPTEMBER has arrived, and with it the pro football season, America's favorite variety of sportsball. For the next 16 weeks, teams of extremely large men will brutalize one another in pursuit of a brown leather egg in order to have a shot at the championship. Counting the postseason playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl, we'll be hearing and seeing football until the end of January.

It's not just the NFL that will draw our national attention; college football is nearly as popular and is responsible for the bulk of university revenues as well as the future of the pro sport. Even high schools go nuts for their teams' weekend matchups, especially in the Midwest. Despite the risk of concussion and other injury, football is the driving force in many young men's lives.

It's not just football, either. Baseball is about to head into the postseason, NHL hockey is just a month away, and the NBA follows close behind. Needless to say, professional sports are a big deal, with billions of dollars to be earned from eager fans. League and team sales reps are doing everything they can to get more butts in seats and otherwise generate as much brand presence as possible.

Considering our national hunger for team sports, you'd think this wouldn't be hard. For example, I have a nephew (young cousin, really, but you know how it is) who locked himself in the bathroom for two hours at a family gathering when the New York Rangers were eliminated from postseason play. For the rest of the evening, he was clearly on the verge of tears. Fans have been known to riot when their team loses, and when their team wins. Philadelphia fans riot on days ending in the letter y. How tough can it be to get fans to part with some green?

As it turns out, there's more to it than holding out your hand and waiting for people to put money into it. Ticket sales are an important revenue source, but many games are televised. The leagues used to be able to black out games in local markets, but cable, satellite, and the internet have made that impractical. Fans who buy tickets are gold, and season ticket holders are even more valuable. …

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