NHL Fan Analysis Part 1: Fan Equity

Note: This is Part I of our study of NHL Fan Quality.  This week we will be ranking NHL teams/fans on the following dimensions: Fan Equity, Social Media Equity, Fan Equity Growth, Price Elasticity, Win Elasticity, and Social Media based Personality.  For more details on our measures of quality, please click here.  For Part II, click here.  For Part III, click here.

Our goal this week is to give NHL fans something to talk about during the offseason (and by talk about, we mean an opportunity to say awful things about us via Twitter and e-mail).  We begin our review of NHL fan bases with our “Fan Equity” rankings.  This ranking looks at fans’ willingness to financially support their teams using a model that controls for winning rates, population, income, and other factors.  The basic idea is that we look at how teams over or under perform in terms of home ticket revenue to what similar (with respect to market potential and on-ice results) teams produce.  More details on the revenue premium model we use to evaluate fan equity and an overview of the various rankings to be published this week may be found here and here respectively.

So where do the best NHL fan bases live?  Sorry America, but Canada dominates these rankings.  The top six teams in terms of fan equity are Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Chicago.  The top US based teams are Chicago, Philadelphia, New York (Rangers), and Minnesota.

NHL 2014 Fan Equity

Really?  Edmonton has a better fan base than Chicago?  Pointy-headed academics should stick topics they know something about, and hockey is obviously not one of those topics. What drives these findings?  Let us highlight some of the underlying factors that drive the results.  Chicago won 46 games (107 points) and averaged over 22,000 fans last season.

This is great support for the Blackhawks, and this is why they crack the otherwise Canadian top six.  So, why does Edmonton beat Chicago?  Because Edmonton’s support is stronger once we control for market characteristics and team performance.  Last year, Edmonton averaged 16,800 fans per home game while winning only 29 games (67 points).  Both teams sell out, but Edmonton does it despite playing well below .500.  In addition, the Edmonton market is less than 1/8 the size of the Chicago market.  And despite these differences in success and market size, Edmonton is able to charge slightly higher average ticket prices.

The big winner in all this is the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Leafs achieve amazing pricing power and consistent sell-outs despite only average on-ice performance.  Toronto is truly Hockeytown North America.

At the bottom of the rankings, we have Columbus, Tampa, Dallas, and Phoenix.  This grouping suggests that the key to having a vibrant fan base is locating somewhere where people play hockey.  We understand the desire to achieve a broad television footprint, but there is also something to locating where the fans live.  For example, last year Dallas drew an average of 14,600 fans despite charging some of the lowest prices and winning 40 games.  As a contrast, Winnipeg drew more fans despite winning fewer games.  But the kicker is that Winnipeg is able to charge more than twice the average ticket price as Dallas.  Also these results occur despite Dallas having a population of about 6.8 million compared around 700,000 in Winnipeg!

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.

Impact of NBA Draft Day on Social Media Following

Social Media is of course a popular medium for athletes to build their brand.  Two popular platforms are Twitter and Instagram.   I tracked the Twitter and Instagram followers for the top 100 draft prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft, and the morning after the draft.   The chart below presents the growth in followers for the lottery picks.

Akash Lottery

It is interesting to see how the following of second-round picks of the teams that had lottery picks as well was affected by the draft.  The chart below documents the social media presence of some of these players.

Akash Non LotteryNote: Gary Harris should have 35,265 Twitter followers on June 13

Guest Entry By Akash Mishra, 2014.

2014 NBA Draft Efficiency

Last night, the NBA held its annual draft.  The NBA draft is often a time for colleges to extol the success of their programs based on the number of draft picks they have produced.  Fans and programs seem to be primarily focused on the output of the draft.  Our take is a bit different, as we examine the process of taking high school talent and converting it into NBA draft picks.  In other words, we want to understand how efficient are colleges at transforming their available high school talent into NBA draft picks?  Today, we present our second annual ranking of schools based on their ability to convert talent into draft picks.

Our approach is fairly simple.  Each year, (almost) every basketball program has an incoming freshman class.  The players in the class have been evaluated by several national recruiting/ranking companies (e.g. Rivals, Scout, etc…).  In theory, these evaluations provide a measure of the player’s talent or quality*.  Each year, we also observe which players get drafted by the NBA.  Thus, we can measure conversion rates over time for each college.  Conversion rates may be indicative of the school’s ability to coach-up talent, to identify talent, or to invest in players.  These rates may also depend on the talent composition of all of the players on the team.  This last factor is particularly important from a recruiting standpoint.  Should players flock to places that other highly ranked players have selected?  Should they look for places where they have a higher probability of getting on the court quickly?  Last year, we conducted a statistical analysis (logistic regression) that included multiple factors (quality of other recruits, team winning rates, tournament success, investment in the basketball program, etc…).  But today, we will just present simple statistics related to school’s ability to produce output (NBA draft picks) as a function of input (quality of recruits).

NBA 2014 Full Draft Efficiency

Here are some questions you probably have about our methodology:

What time period does this represent?

We examined recruiting classes from 2002 to 2013 (this represents the year of graduation from high school), and NBA drafts from 2006 to 2014.  We compiled data for over 300 Division 1 colleges (over 15,000 players).

How did you compute the conversion rate?

The conversion rate for each school is defined as (Sum of draft picks for the 2006-2014 NBA Drafts)/(Weighted Recruiting Talent).  Weighted Recruiting Talent is determined by summing the recruiting “points” for each class.  These “points” are computed by weighting each recruit by the overall population average probability of being drafted for recruits at that corresponding talent level.  We are trying to control for the fact that a five-star recruit is much more likely to get drafted than a four or three-star recruit.  We are using ratings data from Rivals.com.  We index the conversion rate for the top school at 100.

Second-round picks often don’t even make the team.  What if you only considered first round picks?

We have also computed the rates using first round picks only, please see the table below.

NBA 2-14 First Round Efficiency

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.

*Once again, we can already hear our friends at Duke explaining how players are rated more highly by services just because they are being recruited by Duke.  We acknowledge that it is very difficult to get a true measure of a high school player’s ability.  However, we also believe that over the last eight years, given all of the media exposure for high school athletes, this problem has attenuated.

Sports Illustrated: How Phillies, Rays have evolved six years after World Series showdown

Sports Illustrated: How Phillies, Rays have evolved six years after World Series showdown

Last week, Emory Sports Marketing Analytics released the results of a study it conducted that sought to measure, in its words (italics theirs), “a measure of how demanding fans are of their teams. In other words, we are looking at the tolerances fan bases have for losing (or maybe we could view this as insight into which cities are the most prone to bandwagon behavior).” The most demanding fans? The Phillies’. In the late 90s and early 2000s, when the team was struggling and still playing in Veterans Stadium, the club annually ranked among the league’s bottom few clubs in attendance. By 2008, their championship year, the Phillies were fifth overall, and they led the league as recently as 2012. Even with the team’s struggles this season, it still ranks 10th, as fans are still drawn to Citizens Bank Bark by their recent positive memories, and to see the longtime stalwarts who contributed to them. If any club has an incentive to hold onto its stars as long as possible, and to profit off the gate receipts those stars still produce, it is Philadelphia.


The Baltimore Sun: Redskins name controversy heats up with federal cancellation of trademark

The Baltimore Sun: Redskins name controversy heats up with federal cancellation of trademark 

Though the Washington Redskins have faced down past legal challenges to their controversial name, the NFL team’s defiant battle took a new twist Wednesday against a backdrop of growing political opposition.

Efforts to force a change of the Redskins nickname gained momentum when the U.S. Patent Office canceled the team’s trademark on its name, terming it “disparaging of Native Americans.”

Washington Post: Study: Phillies fans are bandwagoners and Nats fans are in a ‘miserable marriage’

Washington Post: Study: Phillies fans are bandwagoners and Nats fans are in a ‘miserable marriage’

An analysis of Major League Baseball fans conducted by two marketing professors at Emory University, Michael Lewis and Manish Tripathi, concluded that fans of the Philadelphia Phillies are the most demanding in the study’s “win sensitivity” list. The fan base least likely to forget about its team during the dark times: The New York Yankees.

“If we look at the sensitivity of the demand to winning for Philadelphia or the New York Yankees, they are not even close,” explains Dr. Lewis. “Yankee fans basically show up regardless; Phillies fans have the greatest sensitivity in the league towards winning rates.”

Deadspin: Which MLB Fans Are The Biggest Bandwagoners

Deadspin: Which MLB Fans Are The Biggest Bandwagoners

Two researchers at Emory University have launched their 2014 MLB Fan Analysis, which uses the numbers to break down baseball’s fan bases by any number of variables. Earlier this week, they tackled one near and dear to our hearts: Which teams’ attendance is most closely correlated with its success?

Similar Articles in the Press:

 NBC Sports: Study: Phillies fans are the biggest bandwagon fans around

SI.com: Phillies Fans the Biggest Bandwagon Fans in Baseball, Study Finds

MLB Fan Analysis Part 3: Defining Fan-Team Relationships with Social Media

Social media is increasingly being used as a market research tool, and we believe that it provides opportunities to develop some richer descriptions of MLB fan bases.  The foundation for today’s analysis is something known as social media sentiment.  The idea behind sentiment is that we look at the “tone” of tweets surrounding each team.  In this inaugural version, we are examining the distribution of positive versus negative tweets for each team over the past couple of years.

Our actual approach uses a variety of statistics used to characterize distributions (e.g. mean, variance, skewness, kurtosis, etc.…), and then we employ a couple of techniques known as factor analysis and cluster analysis.  We will avoid the details (feel free to contact us) but the general idea is to find teams that have similar distributions of social media sentiment.  We use factor and cluster analysis on team social media sentiment on Twitter over the past two seasons to segment fan bases into four types.  Perhaps, it is more accurate to describe what we are doing as segmenting the types of relationships fans have with their teams.  Do fans have unconditional love for their team?  Do they have violent mood swings?

One caveat to this study is that since this is all based on Twitter data, the results reflect the opinions of fans on SOCIAL MEDIA only.  Also, please note that unlike our previous study of social media equity that was based on the size of each team’s following, this analysis is based on sentiment or tone.

Segment 1: Loving Stable Relationships

Our analysis suggests that the Atlanta and St. Louis teams have enviable fan bases.  Braves and Cardinals fans are both very happy and stable.  Whatever these teams are doing, the end result is fans that adore their teams, and tend not to vary in their feelings.  These are fans that love their teams, and mostly overlook their club’s faults.

Segment 2: Generally Happy but Volatile

The second cluster is the largest segment.  This group of fan bases is generally positive but volatile.  Meaning that on average, these fans are happy but they have mood swings.  This group is the largest, and includes the fans of the Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Indians, Tigers, Marlins, Astros, Royals, Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Giants, Rangers, and Blue Jays.  These seem to be the “normal” fan bases.

Segment 3: Miserable Marriages

This is where the analysis becomes fun.  The third segment is made up of fan bases that are generally unhappy but stable.  These are fans that don’t get a lot of joy from their teams.  In addition, these feelings don’t seem to change much.  This group includes a diverse set of teams.  These are the fans of the Diamondbacks, Angels, White Sox, Rockies, Brewers, Padres, Nationals, and BOTH New York teams.

Segment 4: Depression with a Bit of Mania

This is Professor Lewis’ personal favorite segment.  Fan bases that are generally VERY unhappy but have a few instances of extreme joy.  We think we can also say that these are the teams with the most challenging fan bases to manage.  Again, we have a diverse group.  We have the small market fans of the Twins (what happened to Minnesota nice?), the A’s (Moneyball doesn’t create happiness?), and the Rays (probably the Florida heat).  In terms of the large markets, we have Boston (probably the most unsurprising result) and the LA Dodgers.

Social Media Based Cluster of MLB

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.