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Baseball Uses ‘Big Data’ to Build a Fan Base

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Major League Baseball uses data and analytics on the field, as well as off the field. Dan Derian, vice president of research and strategic planning for Major League Baseball, said data is used it to evaluate all facets of the business, including attendance, TV ratings, broadcasting and fan demographics. It’s also used to learn who the fans are as consumers, in order to drive the corporate side of the business.

Since the fans are such a central part of MLB’s business, the “Fan Cave” was created almost three years ago. It’s an actual location in New York City but it can be accessed by anyone online. Derian said, “It’s really a content engine or social media laboratory.”

The MLB Fan Cave has close to two million combined followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The percentage of total fans that “like” or share a post on Facebook is 47 percent, or about five times that of a typical sports league and team pages, according to MLB.

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Derian said one of the main reasons to create the Fan Cave was to connect the sport with a younger generation of fans. It would seem that MLB has succeeded. According to MLB, the average fan of the Fan Cave is a full twenty years younger than the average avid MLB fan overall (25 vs. 45).

Last season, 75 million people went to games, making it the fifth highest in history. (According to Baseball Reference.com, attendance is lower so far in 2013 than at this time last season.)

And those baseball fans love to eat. In just three days, 37,000 hot dogs, 12,500 burgers, 900 pounds of filet mignon and 700 pounds of shrimp will be consumed at the 84th MLB All-Star Game at CitiField.

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