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Study ranks 49ers fans No. 10 in NFL, ahead of Seahawks fans

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The model has adjusted once again to offer a little more balance.

Over the past couple years, Emory University has produced a study that looks at NFL fan bases and ranked them using a variety of factors. In the past, it looked at money spent going to home games and social media interaction. This year, they added a look at how teams draw on the road to add a little more utility to the rankings.

The San Francisco 49ers ranked No. 10 in 2015, and No. 4 in 2016. This year, they are back to No. 10.

The 49ers rank No. 2 in fan equity, No. 7 in social equity, and No. 27 in road equity. These three rankings consist of the following:

Fan equity: Home box office revenues

Social equity: Fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s community (support exhibited by joining social media communities)

Road equity: How teams draw on the road after adjusting for team performance.

Each year, they have added a new metric. In 2015, they simply looked at a financial model of team revenue. Last year, they added social equity so as to look beyond just the financial measure. This year, they added road equity to get a better idea of national appeal and how well the fans travel for the team.

The 49ers are an interesting franchise in considering the fan base. It is a national fan base given the extensive success the organization had in the 80s and 90s. The team has gone in the tank, but Levi’s Stadium is a cash cow. That gives them a significant bump on the financial side of the model.

I remain amused that 49ers fans continue to rank ahead of Seahawks fans. Seattle ranks No. 18 overall. They have solid social equity (No. 9), but are middle of the pack in fan equity, and at the bottom in road equity.

It is interesting to compare them with a team like the Steelers. Pittsburgh is middle of the pack in terms of home box office revenue, but ranks highly in social and road equity. You could also look at the Oakland Raiders. They rank No. 3 in road equity, but No. 31 in fan equity and No. 22 in social equity. The 31st ranking is due to playing in the Coliseum, but the Raiders do have a generally strong fan base. It will be interesting to see what that ranking is in a few years when they move into their new home in Las Vegas.