Nielsen Sports believes the data used to evaluate and sell sponsorships could be useful to those making a different kind of sales pitch: college coaches on the recruiting trail. The first client for the new Nielsen Impact Score (NIS) offering already sits atop the recruitment game.
Duke’s men’s basketball team, which finished first or second in recruiting every year between 2014 and 2020, signed up to use the NIS as a way to prove the size of the platform it offers to its players. In the past, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has supported NIL legislation and called the NCAA’s definition of amateurism “outdated.” Duke’s brand may become an even bigger part of its recruiting pitch when Krzyzewski retires next year after his 42nd season in Durham.
Nielsen is using three main inputs to develop its score. First, national exposure is calculated based on Nielsen TV rating data. Second, Nielsen Scarborough’s local market research data is used to analyze a school’s fanbase. Third, third-party social media data is gathered to calculate combined follower and engagement measures of a program’s online presence.
“Initial interaction with some clients here has suggested that this is an area that they are placing some focus on,” Nielsen Sports managing director Jon Stainer said in an interview. “Maybe these slides came at the back of the deck. These slides are now creeping up towards the middle or the front of the deck.”
Beyond the numbers, Nielsen Sports will provide advisory support to help teams take advantage of the data. “As we go down the line, there’s certain ways of us thinking about how should we help them optimize their programs,” Stainer said. He declined to share where Duke ranks currently in the company’s metrics. The NIS is available for roughly 100 NCAA Division I men’s college basketball programs, with plans to expand to other sports as well.
NIL legislation’s impact on recruiting remains minor to date, but many schools are looking for an edge. Last month, Duke’s Tobacco Road rivals at UNC became the first ACC school to sign with data and images services company INFLCR in order to support their athletes’ social media efforts.