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Case Study: How Major League Baseball Doubled Fan Research Without Increasing Costs

by Kimberly Smith  |  
January 8, 2008
  |  750 views

Company: Major League Baseball
Contact: Dan Derian, MLB Senior Director of Research
Location: Location: New York, NY
Industry: Professional Sports, B2C
Annual revenue: $6,000,000,000
Number of employees: 250

Quick Read:

Each year, when Major League Baseball's postseason culminates with the World Series in October, all eyes are on the MLB—or are they? With most teams out of the running, do those teams' fans actually continue to watch? Are the time and resources invested in marketing such high-profile events worthwhile, or even in tune with fans' true passion for the game?

Such insight used to be financially infeasible for the MLB's Senior Director of Research Dan Derian. But the introduction of an online advisory panel in late 2006—dubbed the "MLB Fans at Bat" and made up of avid supporters from all over the country—has allowed the organization to successfully double its research efforts.

Moreover, it helped make the 2007 postseason far less ambiguous, answering not only which fans tuned in but also whether (1) Dane Cook was a good spokesperson; (2) the message was communicated clearly; (3) and the overall creative material was on target.


The Challenge:

Only in the last decade or so has the MLB turned to field research to validate and shape its business decisions. Once it was initiated, its value was quickly realized. But the time and costs associated with primary research restricted the organization from performing the breadth of fieldwork it desired.

"We wanted to be in touch with our consumers as often as we could, but we were limited somewhat by budgets and costs," recalled Dan Derian, senior director of research.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.

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