ethanbeute

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Tag: NFL

Facebook and Twitter Counts of the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS

 

The start of the NBA season on Christmas day, as well as loads of new advertising campaigns, somehow spurred my curiosity about the Facebook fanbase and Twitter followers of the professional sports leagues.  So, I went and tracked down some counts.

To be clear on my philosophy, more is not inherently better – it’s just more.  100 passionate fans are far more desirable than 1,000 relatively indifferent ones.

 

Setting the Scene

While Major League Baseball (MLB) is still considered by some to be “America’s game,” the television ratings for the National Football League (NFL) make that notion seem quaint; the NFL is a juggernaut.

The National Basketball Association (NBA), just starting a strike-ish-shortened season and repairing its slightly tarnished rep, is about as strong as it’s been in the past several years and looks very good in these charts.

The National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) are both quite niche in their followings, the former being far more historic, mainstream, and powerful than the latter.

 

A Note Off the Top

I don’t provide much analysis here.  Even the observations in this post are limited.  I’ve simply gathered this info, added some color, and shared it.  Please let me know your thoughts as a comment on this post, on Facebook (if we’re friends), or on Twitter (everyone’s welcome!).

 

Now to the Charts

To get started, an overview image of the information I collected:

NFL football, NBA basketball, NHL hockey, MLB baseball, MLS soccer

Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers/Following for Professional Sports Leagues (Dec 2011)

 

Next up, the same Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Twitter following information in simple bar charts:

 

National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, Facebook fans, Facebook likes, Facebook following

Total Facebook Likes for the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS (Dec 2011)

 

Though I ordered these alphabetically, the curve from NBA to MLS is obvious and steady.

The NBA has nearly triple the Facebook likes as the second-place NFL.  This is likely due to a younger, more global presence and following for the NBA.

 

Twitter followers, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major Leagues Soccer

Total Twitter Followers for the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS (Dec 2011)

 

Though the NBA still leads the way here, the NFL and MLB show up a bit better.

Again, I did not take a look at the quality, quantity, or nature of their Tweets – including such things as ratio of personal @mentions to marketing blast tweets – this is just the number of people who’ve clicked “Follow” without subsequently clicking to “Unfollow.”

 

Twitter, Following, Followings, People Followed, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer

Total Twitter Followings by the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS (Dec 2011)

 

Here is where it starts to get interesting.  The NHL just jumps right off this chart (and the MLS pops up nicely).

I expect it’s because the NHL’s social media is (or was) being handled by Vaynermedia, which obviously subscribes to and lives out the giveback, thank you philosophy of Gary Vaynerchuk.  They’re obviously following back; I expect they’re also listening, responding, and engaging more than any other league on Twitter (again, MLS is probably with them on this).

Note: see a cool interview of Matt Sitomer of Vaynermedia by David Siteman Garland of The Rise to the Top about “How to Land Badass Clients Like the NHL and the New Jersey Nets” here.

Meanwhile, the NFL barely gets a stripe to represent the number of people they’re following on Twitter (just 150!).

 

Twitter Following, Followings, Twitter Followers, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer

Ratio of Twitter Following to Twitter Followers for the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS (Dec 2011)

The previous chart sets up this one.  This is Twitter Following (number of people each league is following) divided by Twitter Followers.  Again, the NHL and MLS own this chart.

The MLS bar is largely a function of their relatively few Twitter followers.  The NHL is following more than 4x as many people as the MLS.  Still, both of these leagues – far smaller than the NBA, NFL, and MLB by most measures – are obviously employing a participatory strategy on Twitter.

As a function of their strong Twitter following and limited (or absent) follows back, the NFL does not even register.  The NBA and MLB are just slivers.  They’re broadcasters – just blasting out information.

 

Final Thoughts

It would obviously be interesting to go deeper in at least three ways:

  • putting this information into the context of revenue, attendance, and viewership of each league
  • evaluating the character, quality, quantity, and frequency of posts in the context of this information
  • looking at the social media approach of the individual franchises relative to those of the leagues

 

As a husband, father, full-time marketer, part-time MBA candidate, and very occasional blogger, I’ll leave that to you!  Let me know what you dig up and process.

 

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts about what I’ve gathered and shared here as a comment on this post, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Thanks!

 

Links

National Basketball Association:  NBA.com  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

National Football League:  NFL.com  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

National Hockey League:  NHL.com  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Major League Baseball:  MLB.com  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Major League Soccer:  MLSSoccer.com  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

 

Personal Branding: Steelers QB Roethlisberger – Bad Boy or Dirt Bag?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed to another Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger at the quarterback position.  Roethlisberger’s already won two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers.  In those games, he set up wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes as Super Bowl MVPs (in 2006 and 2009, respectively).

Big Ben Rothlisberger, QB, NFL, Steeler, Super Bowl, champion, Pro Bowl

NFL superstar, Super Bowl champion and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback "Big Ben" Roethlisberger

The Personal Brand

With due respect to defensive standouts Troy Polamalu and James Harrison (and to Polamalu’s insanely distinctive hair) – I suggest that Roethlisberger is today’s face of the Steelers franchise.

Physically large and notably tough compared to others who play his position, “Big Ben” seems a good fit for this role.  The city, the uniforms, the tradition – they all say “tough,” “blue collar,” “hard-nosed.”

Pittsburgh Steeler Quarterback Rides a Motorcycle

Roethlisberger's Personal Brand: Bad Boy?

With his penchant for riding (and crashing) motorcycles without a helmet, sporting sleeveless (cut-off) shirts, wearing his ball caps backward and sporting facial hair in various styles and stages of growth, Roethlisberger is Steelers football.  The only NFL locale more fitting for this might be Oakland, but Ben’s a Pennsylvanian who played college ball in Ohio.  He’s far more a Steeler than a Raider.

I could simplify Roethlisberger’s personal brand as NFL superstar, Super Bowl champion “bad boy.”

I could … but I won’t.  “Bad boy” is too cute and harmless.  Instead, I’ll go with “dirt bag.”

Please note: you are building your personal brand and your legacy every day.  They’re in every decision and every action you make, as well as in those you don’t.  You’re welcome to take control over your brand and your legacy, but know that they will be built whether or not you exercise any control over them.  Now, back to the current topic …

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Big Ben with women at the bar

Roethlisberger's Personal Brand: Dirt Bag?

The Dirt Bag Brand

Ben Roethlisberger drags around everywhere he goes the weight of multiple rape allegations.  To be fair, he’s never faced charges due to insufficient evidence.  He has, however, enjoyed a 6-game suspension from the NFL due to this behavior.  Not even a year after he claimed a Lake Tahoe woman’s allegations “false and vicious,” adding that he would “never, ever force (himself) on a woman,” he officially locked down his dirt bag brand in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Fact: this two-time Super Bowl champion, perennial Pro Bowl quarterback and multimillionaire had sex with a 20-year-old girl in a bathroom in a bar in rural Georgia.  Read that again, let it sink in, then proceed to the next line.

This is not a winning play.  In fact, it’s a guaranteed loser.  This time, it resulted in another rape allegation.  He admitted contact, but denied assault.  I hate to add this, but I must … this happened in a bar bathroom, not in a club, not behind a velvet rope, not in a VIP section, not in a private room, not over at a nearby condo or hotel room.  Consensual or not, this is dirt bag behavior.

Witnesses claim that Roethlisberger demanded “all you bitches, take my shots” at the bar (“Wow, thanks for the invite!” and “Will do, Big Ben!”) and that his bodyguards were blocking the bathroom door (“Please move along, nothing to see here.”)  Enjoy this video deposition from his accuser.

All these details aside, guilty or not, fair or unfair media treatment … Roethlisberger’s not in control of a winning brand.

By Comparison

A quick look at Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowl quarterback contemporaries in the AFC shows the difference between a winning personal brand and a losing one.  Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts: generically All-American, son of an NFL legend, best athlete host of Saturday Night Live ever (a nod to the hilarity of Michael Jordan’s obvious discomfort as SNL host), pitchman for all kinds of common things.   Tom Brady of the New England Patriots: GQ cover guy, dated supermodels before marrying one, pitchman for high-end luxury goods and brands.  These Super Bowl MVPs (Manning in 2007 and Brady in both 2002 and 2004) have relatively clear brands.

Though young and not yet as accomplished, there’s AFC championship game competitor Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets: southern Californian and USC grad, third generation Mexican-American and serious playoff competitor with 4 wins in just 2 years … all on the road.

An elder who’s a fair comparison is also a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback who spent his career in the AFC.  Similar to Roethlisberger in physical size, throwing ability, willingness to take a hit and overall style of play, John Elway of the Denver Broncos: worst thing he was ever involved in was a Ponzi scheme … and he was the victim, serious enthusiasm, big smile, looks kinda like the horse he wore on his helmet.

Roethlisberger wears number 7 in Elway’s honor; too bad he doesn’t take Elway’s approach to personal responsibility.

To Summarize

As I argued a couple months back, when Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics refused to own his words, you have to own what you say and own what you do.  These decisions and actions define you.  You can use them to build, develop and enhance your personal brand or you can just let it all happen and deal with the consequences (“Drink Like a Champion Today”).

Having sex with a 20-year-old girl in a bathroom in a bar in rural Georgia  – consensual or not, with your bodyguards blocking the door or not – is always a losing play.

Being an incredible on-field performer buys lots of forgiveness, but it buys no respect.  To me, Big Ben’s brand is “dirt bag.”

To Provoke

Bad boy?  Dirt bag?  Other?  What’s Roethlisberger’s brand?

Was media treatment of Roethlisberger and the rape allegations fair?

Does off-the-field behavior of NFL players affect your thoughts or feelings about the players or the League in any way?

Have you read Jack McCallum’s Sports Illustrated cover story with the subtitle “An NFL Superstar’s Repulsive Behavior, the Ultimate Expression of Athletic Entitlement Run Amok, Has Forced Even the Most Die-Hard Fans to Question Their Team and Their Football Faith – and Made a Small Town in Georgia Wish He’d Never Paid a Visit” yet?

BCS Football on ESPN: Another Blow to Broadcast TV

Right on schedule, the garbage bowl games keep rolling out across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.  Fine, some of them are “intriguing match-ups” – I’m still not paying any attention to them.

The Bowl Championship Series games, though, are definitely worth sampling … with the obvious exception of Oklahoma versus Connecticut in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (automatic BCS berths are a true shame – Michigan State or Boise State should be in that game instead of UConn).  TCU versus Wisconsin and Auburn versus Oregon are both insanely promising on paper.

Sadly, though, I won’t be seeing a single down of a single BCS game this year.  I won’t see any next year, in 2013 or in 2014, either.  Why not?  Because they’re locked behind the paywall of a cable or satellite subscription.  I found no reference to online viewing through Google, Bing or ESPN site searching, so I presume that they’re either unavailable online or that there will be a subscription structure similar to Time Warner Cable’s deal with ESPN to deliver Monday Night Football online.  Regardless, there’s a cost barrier.

BCS logo, Bowl Championship Series logo, college football, national championship

BCS Football on ESPN: Another Blow to Broadcast Television

In November 2008, FOX and ESPN were battling for four years of BCS rights (2011-2014).  FOX’s offer peaked at around $100M/year.  ESPN won with a bid closer to $125M/year, for which they’re granted TV, radio, digital, international and marketing rights.  They’re even running the BCS website.  Here’s a little background about the battle and the conquest:

I missed this story in 2008.  It only came to my attention as New Year’s Day 2011 nears and I began assessing my college football viewing options.

My reaction to the BCS move to pay television passed from mild anger and disappointment through nostalgia to acceptance – this process took about 10 minutes.  The initial reaction was based on the fact that I only watch free, over-the-air broadcast television in beautiful high definition – the cleanest signal one can watch.  Our only content subscriptions are for a handful of magazines and for Netflix.

  • Note: I watch very little college football during the regular season, but I do like these end-of-season, cross-conference games between our nation’s best teams.
  • Also note: I grew up watching Big Ten football, am a University of Michigan alumnus and have seen many Rose Bowls (most of them ugly).
  • Final note: the Rose Bowl, “Granddaddy” of them all, has been broadcast free, over the air to the entire nation through broadcast networks since 1952; this run is now over.  Though ABC committed $300M over 8 years for the Rose Bowl through 2014, a clause in the ESPN deal allowed those games to be locked behind the paywall, too (ABC is the parent company of ESPN).

Some consequences for ABC/broadcast networks:

They maintain schedule continuity.  Football games interrupt normal schedules, are live and therefore unpredictable, often run long and require contingency planning.  I’m not sure that this is a positive or negative consequence; have you seen the broadcast network lineups?

They lose live, mass-audience events.  As internet delivery, advertising alternatives and reduced ad budgets continually encroach on broadcast, cable and satellite revenue potential, live event programming continues to be a strong point for broadcast TV.  The Super Bowl keeps setting viewership records.  The Oscar, Emmy and Grammy Awards broadcasts have all enjoyed very good rating results in recent years.  Mass is not just the strength of a broadcast network, it’s also its entire purpose.  This is a negative consequence.

They lose strong promotional platforms to support or launch the comedies, dramas and reality shows of which their prime time lineups are built.  Reaching young men through mass media has been difficult for more than a decade; college football gathers a mass audience with a strong concentration of this elusive target.  Given, most of them will ignore the network promos in commercial breaks.  Those pop-up animations under which the football announcers must uncomfortably read promo copy?  Can’t miss those, even if we ignore their calls to action.  This is a negative consequence.

Some consequences for ESPN:

They reaffirm their unbreakable lock on the image of “sports.”  They alone own it.  They own it outright.  ESPN is synonymous with and inseparable from sports.  They are access, analysis and all other things “sports.”  This was never really in question (a quick nod to, then chuckle at FOX Sports Network), but this contract is another pioneering achievement that fits perfectly with their entire reason for existence.  Specific to this situation and contract, ESPN completely owns every aspect of the Bowl Championship Series right now.  All consequences for ESPN are completely positive.

Some consequences for the BCS:

College football may lose a bit of cultural currency.  New Year’s Day belonged to college football; it took over all the broadcast networks all day.  Even as bowl games proliferated and bowl eligibility and invites became far easier for a team to come by over the past decade, all the best games remained on broadcast.  This is over.  Though power comes through focus, targeted delivery makes your offering easy to miss for peripheral fans and viewers.

To illustrate, here’s a snapshot of ratings results for NFL football relative to the Monday Night Football move from ABC to ESPN.  The single highest cable rating ever (15.3) was achieved with the Vikings-Packers Monday night game on ESPN in October 2009.  The best season of MNF on ESPN ever averaged a strong 10.4 rating (2009).  For reference, though, the lowest rating ever achieved when MNF was broadcast on ABC was a not-too-shabby 7.7 (Rams@Bucs, October 2004).  I could not find the lowest rated MNF game on ESPN.

The broadcast void from this MNF move from ABC to ESPN was filled with the inception of Sunday Night Football on NBC.  Obviously, the NFL recognizes the need – or at least benefit – of a prime time network showing.  SNF did not disappoint; it consistently delivers double-digit ratings, typically wins the weekly TV ratings race overall and has beat that highest cable rating ever (15.3) a half dozen times.  Per Ad Age’s “Annual 2011” issue, the average cost of a :30 commercial in SNF ($415,000) is $150,000 higher than an ad Glee and $210,000 higher than one in Dancing with the Stars.  By this measure, it’s the most valuable show on television behind American Idol.

Same product, similar packaging, different delivery – NFL football reaches more people on NBC than on ESPN, despite the fact that a Sunday night game concludes a long day of football while Monday night is a stand alone event.  A paywall blocks out casual fans.

All that said, this is only a slightly negative consequence that washes out when you consider the incredible strength and focus that ESPN provides.  The entire delivery and marketing of the Series falls under one roof – and that roof belongs to the world’s premiere sports brand.

The Bottom Line:

There’s no other way this could have gone.  It was a two-way race and the winner, ESPN, provides more money and more momentum for the BCS (through a focused brand and a comprehensive delivery and management offer).

The BCS on ESPN, though, is another blow to broadcast television.  Without live event programming, networks are playing to lose.  The broadcast revenue model depends on mass.

Had the contract instead been awarded to FOX – even at its lower price – the BCS would certainly have been a loss leader for FOX financially, just as Sunday Night Football is for NBC.  Still, these are the events that keep broadcast networks relevant as bolder concepts and smarter niche plays move to cable and satellite networks.

Related: the March Madness contract now spreads college basketball games across three cable networks in addition to CBS so that all the simultaneously played, early round games can be viewed live.  CBS, however, remains the sole spot for the final two weeks of play, including the entire Final Four.

Last Request:

I’ve not seen SportsCenter in a few years, but I can’t imagine why this offensive practice would have ceased.  ESPN: if you’re still running Dancing with the Stars highlights in SportsCenter, please stop.  It’s a ridiculous, shameful and transparent pitch to your parent, ABC.  The only time I want to hear about a former NFL player like Emmitt Smith is when he’s welcomed to Canton or, perhaps, in a highlight-for-highlight comparison showing how he was almost as good as Barry Sanders.

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