Up goes the article, up goes the pitchforks. The Pittsburgh Steelers ranked 18th in a statistical model created by a professor from Emory University, ranking all fan bases in the NFL.
Maybe the craziest thing is that the creator doubts his own results.
The methodology, as Professor Mike Lewis explains, comes in two forms.
“This year I have come up with a new method that combines these two measures: Dynamic Fan Equity (DFE). 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 Equitytrend and the Fan Equity measure. Social media performance turns out to be a strong leading indicator for financial performance.”
In layman’s terms, fan bases are judged on the money they spend and the social media outreach they extend. Off those metrics, according to Lewis, the Steelers finished below average. He made special note of this in his analysis, calling into question what his model spit out.
“The one result that gives me the most doubt is for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have long been considered one of the league premier teams and brands.”
His rationale is actually a positive for Steelers’ Nation. Or at least, a high mark for ownership. Lewis reasons that because the Steelers’ ticket prices are below market, they were hurt in the fan equity category.
“One issue to consider is that of pricing. It may well be that the Steelers ownership makes a conscious effort to underprice relative to what the market would allow…it’s entirely reasonable to argue that the Steelers relationship to the Pittsburgh community results in a policy of pricing below market.”
In essence, the team and community have such a great relationship so ownership won’t skyrocket prices and anger their base.
Lewis also points out the team took a slight dip in social media growth relative to the rest of the league.
You can appreciate the more analytical approach but anyone with even a familiarity with the league knows the Steelers’ fan base is far better than 18th. Heck, even Lewis acknowledges it.
If you’re curious, the New England Patriots were ranked as the best fan base. I’m sure that won’t sit well with Steelers’ fans either. The Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos finished second and third respectively.
Bringing up the rear are the Kansas City Chiefs in 30th place (again, questionable considering how tough Arrowhead is to play), the Oakland Raiders 31st, and the Jacksonville Jaguars 30th.
As you can tell, the results are certainly against-the-grain.