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4/11/2005
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Baseball Gets Predictive to Sell Tickets, Merchandise Online

Beginning next week, Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet unit will roll out predictive analytics capabilities aimed at delivering personalized content and cross-selling and up-selling offers in real time

Philadelphia, April 11 — Major League Baseball reaches six to seven million fans each day through MLB.com. But according to Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media, the big leagues until recently had “a great deal of traffic but very little intelligence.”

That began to change last year with the implementation of marketing automation and customer analytics software from SAS Institute. And beginning next week, Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet unit will roll out predictive analytics capabilities aimed at delivering personalized content and cross-selling and up-selling offers in real time.

“We wanted to gather data and predict what visitors to the sites are going to do in real time, because if they don’t find it in five minutes, they’re gone,” said Bowman, speaking here last night at the SAS Users Group International (SUGI) conference. The predictive capability will help Major League Baseball sell some 40 million tickets that previously went unsold for each season’s 2,430 games, Bowman said, and it will also help sell merchandise based on the content fans have read online, what’s in their shopping cart and their previous purchase history.

MLB Advanced Media delivers its content through a Sun digital asset management architecture supported by Sun servers and storage in multiple data centers with more than 30,000 dynamic Java Server Pages active on any given day. Akamai supports the audio and video feed distribution and streaming. As impressive as the content infrastructure may be, business intelligence now drives the online experience.

SAS’s software analyzes information and increases retention rates among registered users and subscribers to the interactive unit’s online services, which include live games on MLB.TV and MLB.com Gameday Audio. Analysis and reporting also are carried out on historical data on merchandising, ticket sales at ballparks and clickstream data from MLB.com. But the goal from the start was forging a better experience while visitors are still engaged on the site.

“We wanted a solution that could bring all this data together and provide us the best interface for real-time analysis and to handle predictive modeling,” stated Justin Shaffer, vice president and chief architect at MLB Advanced Media. Shaffer was on hand here last night to accept the 14th annual SAS Enterprise Intelligence Award, which is bestowed to organizations that have demonstrated productivity gains, cost or time savings, or achieved business goals using SAS software.

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