The Detroit Lions have the league’s only fanbase that had to endure an 0-16 season. The fact that anyone showed up to those games late in the season and renewed their season ticket pacakges for the following year suggests the Lions have some pretty good fans.
But how do Lions fans rank compared to the rest of the league? Emory University took up the task of ranking the fanbases, here is a little bit about how they went about it:
In our series of fan base analyses across leagues, we adjust for these complicating factors using a revenue premium model of fan equity. The key idea is that we look at team box office revenues relative to team on-field success, market population, stadium capacity, median income and other factors. The first step in our procedure involves the creation of a statistical model that predicts box office revenue as a function of the aforementioned variables. We then compare actual revenues to the revenues predicted by the model. Teams with relatively stronger fan support will have revenues that exceed the predicted values, and teams that under perform have relatively less supportive fan bases. We provide more details on the method here and here.
So how do Lions fans shake out? Not well, unfortunately. The Lions rank 28th, in front of only fans of the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Falcons and Raiders.
Cowboys fans top the rankings followed by the Patriots, Jets, Saints and Giants. See the full rankings here.
The natural reaction would be to blame the poor ranking on economic factors and a poor team. Those factors are controlled in the study so the folks behind the study offered an alternative explanation:
Detroit, of course, suffers from a relative lack of on-field success and a struggling local economy. But we should note that our method does explicitly control for these factors. It may well be a matter of the Wolverines & Spartans winning the battle for fans against the Lions. Similarly, teams like Atlanta and Tampa Bay may suffer from being located in SEC territory.
What do you think Lions fans, fair or unfair?