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Using SAS Analytics, baseball’s Pirates build roar of the crowd

November 26, 2012 No Comments


CARY, NC (Nov. 26, 2012) – Take me out to the ballgame. TV can’t match the thrill of in-person at-bats, and fans in the stands mean higher ticket sales and ballpark revenue. To boost attendance, teams and leagues need to improve individual fan experiences. Powerful analytics in SAS® for Sports help teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, combine customer insights and event-day statistics to give fans what they want, thus earning their loyalty.

Predictive modeling, segmentation and forecasting from the leader in business analytics put the Pirates’ big data to work increasing attendance and profitability. Using SAS for Sports, the Pirates were able to identify the accounts at greatest risk of not renewing season tickets. Armed with this information, sales representatives were able to focus efforts on those “at-risk” clients – resulting in a 6 percent increase in ticket renewals over the previous season. The season-ticket base serves as the foundation for any successful campaign, and every percentage increase in renewals adds significantly to the bottom line. That’s a win the Pirates can bank on.


“We’re boosting revenue, and we continue to improve the fan experience,” said Jim Alexander, Pirates’ Senior Director of Business Analytics. “Using SAS, we looked at data from several sources and determined that the promotional giveaways on Sundays geared to fans 14 and under were not necessarily driving sales as well as the ALL FAN giveaways offered on Fridays and Saturdays. We integrated some ALL FAN giveaways on Sundays and saw an overall increase of sales.”

In addition to exploring analytical insights on fan experience at the park, Pirates marketers used SAS for Sports to analyze thousands of fan surveys collected throughout the season. The surveys, focused on satisfaction perceptions versus actual experience. The categories were concessions, in-game entertainment, promotions, facility and brand attributes. The goal of the surveys was to determine which experiences or perceptions within each of those categories most closely correlated to their overall experience rating. Using SAS, the Pirates determined that the following factors most closely correlated to fans’ experiences: concessions (overall), family-friendly, seat atmosphere, and ticket-buying experience. As a result, those are the areas that will get the most attention.

“We use SAS data analysis as a baseline for decision making,” said Jason Witzberger, Manager of Business Analytics at the Pirates. “Rather than a subscription model for fan analytics, we chose SAS and have the flexibility of applying analytical capabilities any time questions or opportunities present themselves. We appreciate SAS results. We know our data and the model-building process, and we trust the analytics.”


SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the worldThe Power to Know®.

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