2016 Ranking of the Best NFL Fans

Emory University professor Michael Lewis ranks NFL sports fans every summer using data that reflects statistical models of fan interest.

Lewis deployed two key factors in past years to determine which cities are the most enthusiastic and loyal to their home teams. He writes at scholarblogs.emory.edu that Fan Equity (box office revenues) and Social Media Equity (support by joining social media communities engaged in promoting the teams) served as his measuring tools.

Now Lewis adds another analytic to provide a better understanding of fan appreciation:  Dynamic Fan Equity (DFE). He describes it as such:

The DFE measure leverages the best features of the two measures.  Fan Equity is based on the most important consumer trait – willingness to spend.  Social Equity captures fan support that occurs beyond the walls of the stadium and skews towards a younger demographic.  The key insight that allows for the two measures to be combined is that there is a significant relationship between the Social Media Equity trend and the Fan Equity measure.  Social media performance turns out to be a strong leading indicator for financial performance.

Dynamic Fan Equity is calculated using current fan equity and the trend in fan equity from the team’s social media performance.  I will spare the technical details on the blog but I’m happy to go into depth if there is interest.  On the data side we are working with 15 years of attendance data and 4 years of social data.

After including his new calculus Lewis determined that fans of the New England Patriots are number one followed by those of the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles. Lewis points to social media as the metric that gave the Patriots the edge over the Cowboys. The four-time Superbowl champions enjoyed 2.4 million Twitter followers compared to the 1.7 million tweeters for Jerry Jones’s franchise. Lewis estimates that in contrast to the NFL fan leader’s huge social media following, the Jaguars can only muster up 340,000 twitter followers.

Lewis considers the Eagles one of the surprise teams with huge fan support. He notes that even though they exemplify mediocrity on the field, fans still paid lofty ticket prices and fill up Lincoln Financial Field during all the home games.

The Bills, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders, and Jaguars find themselves at the bottom of the rankings, according to Lewis’s analytics. To see the complete list of the NFL rankings click here.


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