Center for Sports Business & Research and the ESPN/TNS Sports Poll

University Park, Pa. -- The Center for Sports Business & Research (CSB&R) at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business has reached an agreement with TNS, the world’s largest custom research business, for direct access to data from the ESPN Sports Poll, considered the industry standard for monitoring the overall status and health of the sports industry from the fans’ perspective.
 "The data that TNS will provide the center will be invaluable for quantitative modeling in the sports marketing arena,” says Wayne DeSarbo, executive director of the CSB&R and Smeal Distinguished Professor of Marketing. “There is no substitute for real data, and the ESPN Sports Poll is the longest running and most comprehensive source for sports fan data in the country.”
Robert Fox, senior vice president of TNS’ Sport & Sponsorship Division, describes the challenge that he sees in the sports industry with regard to market research: “The sports industry is relatively young with regard to its understanding of the benefits and applications of market research beyond polling and focus groups. Typically, other industries invest 3-5 percent of their marketing budget in research. Data-driven insights become increasingly important in down economies when the cost of a bad decision is magnified. In sports, seven-figure decisions are still sometimes made based on gut and experience. Penn State’s CSB&R will educate and launch into the business world a new breed of sports marketers who embrace advanced market research. Dr. DeSarbo will focus on these types of research and applications. We are happy to support the CSB&R program.”
“This new alliance with ESPN and TNS will allow the center’s faculty to develop new lines of sports business research using some of the most current data available,” says Smeal Dean James B. Thomas. “With access to the latest data from the leading sports industry poll, the center’s researchers can pose new questions and offer innovative solutions to real business issues in the sports industry — one of the main goals of the center.”
DeSarbo adds: “We will use TNS’ data to promote sports business research in academic and practitioner areas. Our aim is to uncover aspects of sports that have real impact in the industry and publish the findings in the leading academic and sports-related journals. Working with companies like TNS, we envision the work that we do may educate and encourage the business world to apply these kinds of solutions. For this to happen, the industry needs to believe that scientific market research is an investment and not a cost center.”
The ESPN Sports Poll, a joint venture between TNS and ESPN, is a syndicated tracking survey of the U.S. population aged 12+ regarding their attitudes and behaviors toward sports. The Poll runs continuously, 360 days per year. Since 1994, dozens of Fortune 500 companies and nearly every major sports league have used the ESPN Sports Poll to guide sponsorship decisions and negotiations.

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Last Updated April 07, 2009