For decades, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been known to have one of the league’s top fanbases. A recent study from Emory University once again confirms that.
Author Michael Lewis has been trying to quantify “fandom” for years now. He breaks it down into three categories: fan equity, road equity, and social equity. Those focus on how much fans are willing to spend on their team, their presence at road games, and engagement on social media. He also adjusts for market size so large market teams don’t automatically win out just because of their location. He explains it like this.
“This study is about measuring fandom intensity or engagement. The logical foundation is that we attribute over or under performance in revenues or social following to fan engagement. To do this, we have to control for factors like market size and winning. This is the key point. Fan engagement is a little different from brand equity (the value of a brand) because we are controlling for market differences. The preceding results are more about intensity or passion of a fan base rather than the value of the fan base.”
Add it up and you get your total.
Pittsburgh comes in 5th overall while individually ranking like this in those three areas:
Fan Equity: 16th
Road Equity: 6th
Social Equity: 2nd
Lewis notes the Steelers fell a bit because of their fan equity, a result of, based on his data, the team’s prices being a little steeper than some of the other top clubs. But he also admits the team’s ranking “could probably be a bit higher on this list.” They finished 5th in his study last year.
The social engagement the team receives is a driving force behind their high fandom ranking. The Steelers have over 3.42 million followers on Twitter, the fourth most of any team and narrowly behind the Philadelphia Eagles for 3rd place. The difference between the two teams are literally about 3,000 followers. Pittsburgh has also over 6 million likes on their Facebook page.
The top four include largely expected names though the New York Giants sneak into the group and are one spot ahead of Pittsburgh. I’m sure that won’t sit too well with Steelers’ Nation.
Bringing up the rear also includes two surprising names – the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams. Despite their obvious on-field success, they rank poorly in every metric. Especially social media where the Chiefs have just 1.29 million followers while the Rams are one of just a handful of teams to still sit under the million mark. Their overlap with the Chargers, who also are near the bottom of this ranking, probably don’t do them any favors.