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NBA in OKC: Teams study fans' habits to boost revenue

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: July 13, 2008 at 12:01 am •  Published: July 13, 2008
The NBA calls it "50-win ready” when the business side of a franchise is more accelerated than the basketball end.

Oklahoma City's new team will get there by learning as much as it can about its new fan base while the fans are busy learning about Kevin Durant.

It's all a part of a league trend in which NBA teams are using detailed research and analysis of their customers' buying habits in an attempt to increase revenue by providing better products.

So while fans might initially ask questions like "What size shoe does Durant wear?” the team might turn around and inquire about how much you typically spend when you go out to eat.

"The primary goal is to get to know what your fan base wants and what your fan base is willing to purchase and fitting products to fit those individuals,” said Chris Heck, NBA senior vice president for team marketing and business operations.

The belief is: the more teams know, the more they can provide desired products and the more likely the team is to see fans return and create a stronger base.

The Boston Celtics pioneered the use of analytical research in 2003 when they began working with StratBridge, a Cambridge, Mass., based business solutions and technology firm that has transformed the way the NBA sells tickets.

The Celtics ended the 2005-06 season by losing nine of their final 14 games before finishing with a 33-49 record. Despite the mounting losses, those final 14 games all sold out.

Boston used software developed by StratBridge called StratTix, which provided the Celtics a color-coded image of their arena and live updates on how seats were selling and at what prices. Boston's marketing and sales executives noticed the upper corners of the arena weren't selling as well and developed ticket packages marketed as family packs that included four tickets and concessions vouchers for a discounted price of $119.

The success of the Celtics has led to 26 of the NBA's 30 teams, and roughly 100 total professional franchises, implementing StratBridge's technology, according to StratBridge Founder and CEO Matthew Marolda.

Although Oklahoma City's franchise has yet to finalize ticket prices for next season, the team is expected to use StratBridge's technology.

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