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New academic report lists Chiefs fan base among last in NFL

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The latest yearly report from Emory University doesn’t give Chiefs fans much love

San Diego Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

On Monday, Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business released its latest NFL Fandom Report. It ranked Kansas City Chiefs fans as 31st in the NFL.

Uh, what?

The Chiefs didn’t rank well in 2017 or 2018, either. The team was 30th in these rankings in 2018, and 32nd in 2017.

All right... so what do these numbers mean?

Emory professor Mike Lewis collected information on three metrics, and explained them this way:

I use three measures of fan engagement: Fan Equity, Social Equity and Road Equity. Fan Equity focuses on home box office revenues (support via opening the wallet). Social Media Equity focuses on fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s community (support exhibited by joining social media communities). Road Equity focuses on how teams draw on the road after adjusting for team performance. These metrics provide a balanced analyses of fandom – a measure of willingness to spend, a measure unconstrained by stadium size and a measure of national appeal.

Somehow, Lewis failed to take into account the number of fans who utilize each NFL team’s SBNation site — which we could tell you would paint an entirely different picture!

You might be tempted to dismiss this information strictly on the basis of Kansas City’s relatively small market size. But according to Lewis, these figures have been adjusted not only for market size, but also for the amount of success each team is currently having.

Here’s how NFL teams were ranked in all three metrics, and in total.

Team Total Fan
Equ
Soc
Equ
Road
Equ
Cowboys 1 1 3 2
Patriots 2 3 1 4
Eagles 3 12 4 1
Giants 4 7 10 3
Steelers 5 16 2 6
Packers 6 8 7 17
Broncos 7 5 6 25
Bears 8 4 14 12
49ers 9 2 11 28
Saints 10 9 22 7
Redksins 11 10 28 8
Colts 12 11 19 10
Falcons 13 23 9 14
Dolphins 14 15 20 9
Seahawks 15 18 8 24
Panthers 16 22 5 27
Raiders 17 31 13 5
Ravens 18 6 18 31
Bills 19 17 21 13
Jets 20 13 17 19
Texans 21 14 12 32
Lions 22 20 15 18
Buccaneers 23 25 24 11
Vikings 24 21 27 15
Cardnials 25 19 25 23
Chargers 26 26 23 16
Browns 27 24 16 30
Bengals 28 27 26 20
Jaguars 29 30 30 21
Titans 30 28 31 26
Chiefs 31 29 29 29
Rams 32 32 32 22

Lewis — who has now published these reports for three years — already knows which fans he’s most likely to hear from.

The Chiefs are the team that will generate push back. The Chiefs have had some success and they have significant star power. The problem is that the Chiefs lack pricing power and do not have much of a social following (I use Twitter). However, the Chiefs and Browns are probably the best positioned teams to make moves up the charts the next few years.

It’s important to note that the whole purpose of this data isn’t to measure the intensity of feeling fans might have for their favorite team — although that’s undoubtedly a part of what drives Lewis’ data. Instead, it’s to measure how successful these brands are — that is, if a sponsor wanted to form a partnership with an NFL team, which one would be most likely to generate the best results?

As the Chiefs become more successful on the field — and Patrick Mahomes becomes more of a Sunday afternoon draw for NFL fans in general — it will be interesting to see how these numbers change in the coming years.