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So, how good of a Vikings fan are you?

A discussion over what it takes to rank as a good fan base.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings fans compared to all 31 other NFL teams.
How do Minnesota Vikings fans rate against the rest of the league?
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

So, how good of a fan are you?

Believe it or not, there is a lot of research that actually goes into this. The main reason, is of course, for making money. Professor Mike Lewis broke down the NFL fan base rankings for 2017. It is a very interesting read. How do you think Vikings fans fared? In his study he broke down some key factors to measure each teams fans against one another, but first he asked some of these questions:

"Who has the best fans in the NFL? What are the best brands in the NFL? These are simple questions without simple answers. First we have to decide what we mean by “best”. What makes for a great fan or brand? Fans that show up even when the team is losing? Fans that are willing to pay the highest prices? Fans that are willing to follow a team on the road or social media?

Even after we agree on the question, answering it is also a challenge. How do we adjust for the fact that one team might have gone on a miraculous run that filled the stadium? Or perhaps another team suffered a slew of injuries? How do we compare fan behavior in a market like New York with fans in a place like Green Bay?”

He essentially broke it down to three areas of measure, Fan Equity, Social Equity, and Road Equity and then gave a overall score. He did try to compensate for market size so that obvious large market teams are equitably measured against smaller market teams like Minnesota. So let’s take a look.

The definitions:

Fan Equity -"Fan Equity looks at home revenues relative to expected revenue based on team performance and market characteristics. The goal of the metric is to measure over or under performance relative to other teams in the league. In other words, statistical models are used to create an apples-to-apples type comparison to avoid distortions due to long-term differences in market size or short-term differences in winning rates.”

Social Media Equity - Social Media Equity is also an example of a “premium” based measure of brand equity. It focuses on how many fans a team has online. (Here at the Daily Norseman, we definitely fall under this category.)

Road Equity - How a team draws fans to events on the road.

First off, I have a question on how the good professor got his hands on NFL revenue data, both expected and actual performance? The NFL is comprised of 32 individual businesses that work in conjunction with the league, and each has individual marketing arms and efforts that go towards selling their products. There is revenue-sharing to take into account also, that as a group, the NFL set up to help the league grow and keep relatively equitable and competitive amongst all 32 teams. An example would be taking the revenue from broadcast rights and sharing them either equally or under some formula with each team. Another may be something like the NFL stadium building fund. Secondly, it is obvious that a large market should have higher revenue, because there are more people to have as fans available to spend money. Generally with more fans and more dense markets also comes economic conditions that drive higher costs and available profits a team can gather. Say a team is selling a suite for $10,000 a season, with a large market team in a densely populated area, it makes sense that they would have more people with an opportunity and most likely the means to purchase it. These are but a few questions I have.

The Minnesota Vikings came in at #23 overall:

Measuring the quality of fans amongst all 32 NFL teams.
NFL team fan rankings

Where the Minnesota Vikings did do well, at least relatively, was in Road Equity at #17 (still in the bottom half of the league though). Road equity comprises of how well the team travels, in particular how many fans show up to road games. Americans are known for spreading out and moving about the country, and this has helped the NFL because you may grow up in one place loving a particular team and then move to another due to family, work, or other circumstances, but still have the availability today to watch your team. Again, I would think teams in larger markets that have large dense populations, have greater chances of this mobility and thus would rate higher in this statistic. That indeed looks to be a factor. Other factors that may contribute, may be that in previous eras of the NFL, when broadcasting of the team was more restricted, either in the early years with radio, or in previous decades on TV when you only had a choice of what the networks would broadcast, and that may be only two games, and they were usually of bigger market and winning franchises, their fans grew exponentially compared to those teams that didn't get the large coverage. An example of that may be the Dallas Cowboys of the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Does more exposure and a greater number of fans, mean those fans are better? Also, does geographical location play into it as well? Is it easier for a team to travel to opponents nearby stadiums like Pittsburgh Steeler’s fans presence at division games, or to southern stadiums where weather conditions make travel easier to represent? Minnesota along with other northern tier teams, have their share of snowbirds that fly south when it starts to get cold, that could be helping boost numbers when the Vikings play in places like Arizona or Florida.

As for Fan Quality, is there a difference between Minnesota nice, or a Philadelphia Eagles fan who’s willing to throw a snowball with a D cell battery in the middle of it, at a player? Does a fan that has followed a team that has never won a championship for decades, rate over one that has won championships in bunches to form dynasties? Is some diehard in Cleveland that has loved his team for 50 years, less of a fan then a bandwagon jumper for team like Dallas or New England?

These are all interesting questions, especially when it comes to marketing for the team, but they can also relate to community and a sense of sports tribalism. The report does not take into affect, the teams fans support of community, charities, and the events like golf tournaments, snowmobile rides, and playground builds. I would argue that those too definitely figure into the quality of a fan base.

And here are some Vikings fans thoughts, and even from someone we know.

Ted Glover hypothesizes that fandom wanes when money is involved.
Minnesota Vikings fans discuss selling home tickets.

What do you think?