Almost exactly a year ago, we stumbled across a study out of Emory University that looks at NFL fan bases and ranked them using a variety of factors. It was primarily based on revenue, so it is not exactly the ideal study for figuring out the “best” fans regardless of how much they spend. In that study, the San Francisco 49ers ranked No. 10.
A year later, the study is back and the 49ers have climbed the rankings to No. 4! It still doesn’t mean a lot more, but hey, the 49ers are moving up in a positive ranking, so that’s something, right? Here is how the rankings look:
The rankings look at fan equity and social media equity in a measurement they call Dynamic Fan Equity (DFE). Here’s how they break it down:
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.
Last year’s was primarily a revenue model, but this year’s factors in social media performance by each team. The 49ers have a fairly strong social media presence, so combining that with the spending required in a new stadium, and it’s not surprising the 49ers climbed as high as they did.
The big outlier in these rankings is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who show up at No. 18. That comes entirely from the revenue side of this model. Revenue is certainly important, but it is far from the only factor in what makes a fan. But, props to them for trying to come up with something, I suppose.