What’s The Deal?
Before you jump to conclusions, yes the teams’ performance plays a factor in their attendance, but not as much as you may think. To support my evidence, Forbes 2015 List of The NBA's Best Fans, states:
Lamont Hill, a 36-year old Philadelphia-born and raised author, journalist and Morehouse College professor with a Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania, paid $75,000 ahead of this season for his two floor seats next to the Sixers’ south basket. Without protest, he actually ponied up 8% more than what he paid last season, notable most for the team tying the NBA’s 26-game losing streak held also by none other than the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is one of many testimonials that demonstrates certain NBA teams fan loyalty despite having a losing seasons. Despite the 76ers 10-72 season, according to past 5-year attendance provided by SBRnet, their attendance has increased by 1% from last year.
Even though this may be a small increase, it is still remarkable how they are able to retain fans with their record. For this reason, I have complied reasons why teams that has bad records are able to retain and even recruit more fans.
Engaging The Fans
There are many ways to engage fans, but the advice that the Phoenix Suns gave was “making the fans the stars.” The reason why they said this to show that as you make fans feel a part of the overall experience you will receive more feedback; the more valued they will feel. To support my statement, they also state, “We are the first team to work with 15 Seconds of Fame, an app company that captures pictures and videos of fans during the game and then will send them to their smartphones so they can then share them with friends or on social media.” Phoenix Suns involves their fans on social media as a means to include them in the full experience. This not only involves the female demographic, but also the millennials—which social media consumption is steadily increasing with this group. Putting fans first is the key to driving attendance.
Changing The Environment
Teams need to consider changing different parts of their physical environment to appeal more to their fans and their needs. For example, Sacramento switched arena, which the new location catered to the millennials greatly. According to Recode, “At the Golden 1 Center, as the new arena will be called, the technology focus is on connectivity, a serious issue in many stadiums and arenas, especially considering the dense crowds that gather during events. The new Kings arena will have 1,000 Wi-Fi access points for around 17,500 seats, just 20 percent fewer access points than the 49ers have for their near-70,000-seat stadium. Or, as the Kings explained it in a recently released report, “The network can handle over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second.” (Talk about pandering to a millennial audience!)”
This change of environment will be effective in appealing to fans and also the millennial age group. This major change is one way the Sacramento Kings has accumulated so many fans in the past year.
Rebranding The Team
Along with attracting fans through social media and the change of environment, it’s also important to consider the option of rebranding the logo/name. Creating a new brand gives the team a new image—especially if the previous image consisted of a negative ambiance.
The Charlotte Hornets changed their name from the Bobcats in 2014, which they ready to kick off the 2014-2015 season with their new name and brand image. According to Forbes, “Despite their performance in 2014-2015, the Hornets saw its highest average attendance last season and the most sellouts (11) since the NBA returned to Charlotte in 2004-05.” This further proves my point that teams need to find creative ways to increase attendance despite their record. These 3 NBA teams and their best practices are some of many examples of how NBA teams use all possible resources to increase their attendance.
Written by Micah Green-Holloway
General Editor: Macy Marin
Settimi, C. (2015, January 21). Miami Heat Tops Forbes 2015 List Of The NBA's Best Fans. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinasettimi/2015/01/21/the-nbas-best-fans/#569f1944298f
Settimi, C. (2016, January 20). The NBA's Least Engaged Fans. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinasettimi/2016/01/20/the-nbas-least-engaged-fans/#30e3dfde1bee
SBRnet - http://www.sbrnet.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/researchrc.aspx?rescode=footat1 (Attendance Graph)
Wagner, Kurt. (2016, November 29).The Sacramento Kings Are Building the NBA's Techiest Arena, a '21st Century Coliseum Recode. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.recode.net/2016/1/6/11588552/the-sacramento-kings-are-building-the-nbas-techiest-arena-a-21st