Of all the rankings lists that seem to annoy fans the most each offseason, it would be fair to say that the one that grades the fans might be among the more controversial. And while the annual study produced by Emory University business school professor Michael Lewis uses real data to support his rankings, unlike the subjective opinions behind most top 100 lists, the results are always sure to offend the fan bases ranked around the bottom.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming in at No.5 on the list for the third year in a row, there will even be some members of Steeler Nation who take exception to their position. But based on the criteria included in the study, their overall ranking seems about right.
The @dallascowboys, @Patriots, @Eagles, @Giants, & @steelers top this year's #NFL rankings by Prof. Lewis. The @Bengals, @Jaguars, @Titans, @Chiefs, & @RamsNFL are on the bottom of the list. https://t.co/Fe2PePPDKF pic.twitter.com/zHvcmUgVss— Emory MAC (@Emory_MAC) June 24, 2019
As per the report, Lewis “uses data on attendance, revenue, social media following and road attendance to develop statistical models of fan interest,” breaking the study into three separate categories - 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. To get at an overall ranking, I use a statistical tool that looks at the correlation across the three metrics to create a “Brand Equity Factor.””
Scoring well on both Road Equity and Social Equity, the Steelers are in the middle of the pack when it comes to Fan Equity. A ranking that is brought down by the team’s relatively high pricing, according to Lewis.
It is worth noting that Pittsburgh ranks far higher on the list than any of their AFC North rivals, with the Baltimore Ravens coming in next at No.18, the Cleveland Browns at No.27 and the Cincinnati Bengals creeping into the bottom five at No.28. However, perhaps the most surprising ranking on the list is the Kansas City Chiefs ay No.31, a team many would expect to come in far higher.