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Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference Awards Innovator Award to Orlando Magic

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By Elizabeth L. Brown

TAMPA (March 23, 2022) – When it comes to using business analytics to lure fans into seats, the Orlando Magic team is an early adopter and has seen tremendous success in using ticket holder data to generate revenue.

So much so, that the organization received the Innovator in Analytics Award on Wednesday during the first day of the USF Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference.

The conference, in its eighth year, returned to an in-person event and is being held at the USF Gibbons Alumni Center on the university’s Tampa campus. About 100 participants attended the first day of panel discussions.

The two-day conference is being hosted by the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management program at the USF Muma College of Business. The event brings together sports marketers, business data analysts, business executives, and students for workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

On Wednesday, Ali Anderson, the director of business strategy for the Magic, accepted the Innovator in Analytics Award on behalf of her team and sat down with conference coordinator and Muma College of Business faculty member Michael Mondello for a one-on-one informal conversation.

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Anderson said when Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic NBA team, opened in 2010, the then-state-of-the-art building gave the business analytics team a great fresh start.

“Opening the Amway Center was an amazing opportunity to collect data,” Anderson said. “It really started there with how the team grew analyzing ticketing data and growing from there.”

One way of collecting such data was by requiring fans to log into the center’s wi-fi by submitting their email addresses.  From there, a team of about 15 analysts would work at optimizing the data to keep fans returning.

“Every data point is a story to tell,” she said.

When asked about how the pandemic has impacted ticket sales, Anderson said that for this season, attendance numbers have been way down, especially from Brazilian tourists. As a result, they have focused on building attendance from the domestic tourism sector.

She said one of their biggest challenges is reimaging the premium seating section. As season ticket sales slide, fans are going to basketball games for the entertainment aspect.

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“We’re trying to innovate and create products to meet fans where they are,” she said. “People need Instagram-able spaces. They’re not necessarily there for the game, but for the experience. They’re there to see and be seen.”

Anderson highlighted the use of the Orlando Magic team’s app to enhance the fan experience by offering more conveniences. For example, app users can order food for in-seat delivery, buy a t-shirt from the team shop for pick-up, add valet parking, or even make dinner reservations.

The conference continues on Thursday with workshops featuring panel discussions on using data analytics to understand golf fans on the PGA Tour and a talk about business analytics at Disney.