According to Emory University Professor Michael Lewis’ yearly study of NFL fans, the Dallas Cowboys have the best fans in the NFL and the Los Angeles Rams have the worst.
Lewis is the faculty director of the Emory Marketing Analytics Center at their business school.
What does the professor at the Atlanta university base his rankings on?
“My approach to evaluating fan bases uses data on attendance, revenues, social media following and road attendance to develop statistical models of fan interest,” Lewis said. “The key is that the models are used to determine which city’s fans are more willing to spend or follow their teams after controlling for factors like market size and short-term changes in winning and losing.”
The Cowboys are often referred to as “America’s Team” because of their national following with fans from coast-to-coast, and that certainly contributed to their #1 ranking.
“The Cowboys have long been NFL royalty,” Lewis said.
Rounding out the top five are the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, the same results as last year.
As for the Patriots, Lewis wonders if they will maintain their high-ranking after legendary coach Bill Belichick and elite QB Tom Brady retire, which could happen in the next few years.
“The Patriots are now firmly established at the top of the league,” Lewis said. “It remains to be seen if the Patriots will remain near the top when Brady and Belichick move on.”
So why are the Rams, the team the Patriots beat in the last Super Bowl, bringing up the bottom?
First-off they moved from St. Louis a few years ago leaving a lot of their fans behind. Yes, they used to be in Los Angeles, but they moved to St. Louis in 1995, staying until 2015, so a lot of their original fans died or lost interest. Another issue for the Rams is playing in a temporary, outdated stadium, the Los Angeles Coliseum, built in 1923. The Los Angeles Chargers, formerly in San Diego, also have a low-ranking (26) due to playing in a temporary stadium (Dignity Health Sports Park), which used to be a soccer-only venue. Both these teams will move into the state-of-the art Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park next year.
“For the Rams (and the Chargers), we should probably include an asterisk,” Lewis said. “Moving markets and playing in temporary stadiums can lead to questionable data.”
The bottom five are the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and Rams.
The biggest surprise here are probably the Chiefs, a team that’s had a lot of on-field success in recent years and strong ticket sales.
“The Chiefs are the team that will generate push back,” Lewis admitted. “The Chiefs have had some success and they have significant star power. The problem is that the Chiefs lack (ticket) pricing power and do not have much of a social following (I use Twitter).”
A big part of Lewis formula is determining which teams have the “best brands.”
“The fundamental question that guides the analysis is simple – Who has the best fans in the NFL? For the business folks, maybe we phrase this as – What are the best brands in the NFL? It’s a simple question that requires some complicated analyses.”
Here is the complete list from 1-32: