SBD/January 21, 2011/Franchises

Jets' Savvy Social Media Campaign Catapults Team To Top Of Fan Interest Polls

Fireman Ed app is the second-best selling paid sports app
A "savvy social-media campaign rooted in the team's commitment to transparency has catapulted the Jets to the top of an array of multimedia categories gauging fan interest" ahead of their AFC Championship Game against the Steelers Sunday, according to Sophia Hollander of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. They have the "most Twitter followers of any team in the NFL, despite ranking 27th in the league in national popularity according to an ESPN Sports Poll" last year. And this year, the Jets are the most "buzzed about" team in the NFL, according to NM Incite, a category that includes blogs, blog comments, boards, groups, Twitter and video/image sites. The Jets recorded "more than one million mentions since August 1." The Cowboys were the next closest team with a "little more than 600,000" mentions. The Jets have made "efforts to leverage social media connections to generate revenue." The team's Fireman Ed Chant app is the "second-best selling paid sports app" on iTunes, and the "Ultimate Fan" app on Facebook, which allows fans to make predictions and stage virtual tailgates, "has four sponsors, making it a rare revenue-generating Facebook app for a sports team." A Jets spokesperson said that 10% of Jets sponsorships this year "included a social media component," and the team is "planning to bump it up to 50% by next year." Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins: "It's not just spinning the wheels -- there's a real business purpose behind social media." Former Redskins Senior VP/Digital Strategy Shripal Shah said the Jets "may not come top of mind right at first glance as being leaders in social media." But he added, "I really feel in the last few years we were paying attention a lot more to things that the Jets were doing. ... The Jets, to me, are some of the most creative of all the NFL teams I've seen on Twitter" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/21).

FLYING HIGH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan reports whether the Jets win or lose Sunday, it is "worth noting how the Jets will make a little money on the playoffs, something NFL teams usually do not do." Deep runs into the playoffs "can mean losses for NFL teams because of the travel costs involved and the fashion in which the NFL shares playoff revenue." But the Jets are "chartering a plane from team sponsor JetBlue and selling packages for $800 to 150 people." The packages "include airfare, hotel and game tickets," and players' families "had first dibs." Higgins said that the team "could have charged more but wanted to keep the price down for team personnel and their families." Combined with Pepsi Max' sponsorship of the team's Twitter feed during the playoffs, the club "has generated at least six figures off just these two endeavors" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/24 issue).

TURNING THE TIDE: On Long Island, Neil Best writes, "Like it or not, Giants fans, the Jets likely are two victories away from taking over the town." The "interest gap between the two teams isn't as great as you might think." The "most objective measure available is TV ratings, and they are a bit of a shock." The Jets averaged a 15.8 local rating in N.Y. during the regular season, ahead of a 15.7 average for the Giants, "ending a five-year streak in which the Giants led." But "in the eight seasons before that, beginning with Bill Parcells' arrival in 1997, the Jets were 5-2-1, surpassing or matching the Giants in every season but 1999 and 2001." The Giants "do consistently lead in merchandise sales, but not always by much." Through the end of the regular season, the Giants "ranked seventh in the NFL, the Jets 10th" (NEWSDAY, 1/21). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes if the Jets win the Super Bowl, the team has "positioned itself for the kind of status reserved for teams with multiple championship rings." But a TV exec said, "You cannot just throw out the term 'America's Team,' or national team. It's a term you cannot loosely use. If the Jets lose Sunday in overtime they are no farther along than they were last season." Raissman writes the Jets "may well not wind up reaching 'national' team status this season, but the combination of perception and performance will upgrade their TV schedule next season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/21). However, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "Let those who can still be honest with themselves be honest with themselves. If these Jets were the Bears, Ravens or Chargers, Jets fans would despise them. ... The word 'class' is not applicable to this particular organization" (N.Y. POST, 1/21).
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