More money, tech in preview centers Champions 2015: Tom Jernstedt New commish, expansion greet AFL season Youth lacrosse tourney inspired by LLWS Comcast stakes claim at SunTrust Park Will Cowherd be the new Maher? The NHL and the Canadian dollar IMG College deepens ties with NCAA Toyota, iHeartRadio play Rock ‘n’ Roll Univision to produce weekly NBA shows
SBJ/April 25 - May 1, 2011/MediaPrint All
Fredette was a breakout star in college hoops this year.
Fredette committed to allow Tupelo-Honey to shoot more than 100 hours of footage over 30 days. The New York-based production company plans to sell online and mobile vignettes and packaged 30-minute TV shows.
No programming has been sold yet, but Tupelo-Honey President Cary Glotzer said he’s already been having discussions and plans to sell footage to several outlets.
Glotzer plans to produce daily two- to four-minute webisodes, a daily video blog and weekly recap features. After the 30 days, Tupelo-Honey will produce a long-form documentary for a TV channel or theatrical release.
He also plans to sell sponsorship around the video content, and said some brands already are showing interest. Glotzer said he could make some video clips available for sponsors’ websites.
Glotzer said he was drawn to Fredette this season when his company produced Mountain West basketball games for Versus.
“I was there when he dropped 52 points on New Mexico,” Glotzer said. “At that time, I said, ‘We have to do something special with this kid.’”
Glotzer asked Dave Checketts, chairman of SCP Worldwide (which has a controlling interest in Tupelo-Honey), to contact Fredette’s dad. Checketts and Fredette’s father know each other from Salt Lake City.
Two and a half weeks later, the two reached an agreement that gives Fredette a participation fee. Company officials would not say how much Fredette is getting paid.
Footage is expected to highlight Fredette’s transition from student athlete to NBA player. It will show how Fredette picks an agent — he hasn’t selected one yet. It will show how he keeps up his training. And it will show how he goes about planning his financial future.
The red-hot ad sales market for live sports is continuing through the NBA postseason, even if the growth is slowing, according to the NBA’s TV partners.
Turner Sports has sold 90 percent of its NBA playoff advertising inventory while reporting a 6 percent increase in sales during the first round of the postseason. ESPN’s postseason ad sales also are pacing ahead of last year’s record-high year.
But the rate of growth has slowed compared with last year, when Turner reported a 26 percent rise in ad sales for the same period.
Turner executives said that last year brought the return of auto and financial categories spending with the NBA, which helped ramp up the increase in ad sales.
“The NBA marketplace continues to see significant demand as the first round of teams battle it out,” said Jon Diament, executive vice president of advertising sales and marketing for Turner Sports.
Turner stated that advertising sales for the highly rated 2010-11 regular season grew by 12 percent compared to an 11 percent growth in ad sales for the 2009-10 season over the 2008-09 season.
The NBA on Turner, ESPN and ABC generated record ratings this year and the viewership in early first-round playoff games reflected a similar trend.
The first five first-round playoff games on TNT this year generated a 2.8 U.S. rating (4.410 million total viewers). Those five games were up 27 percent compared to the 2.2 U.S. rating (3.403 million viewers) over TNT’s first five first-round games last year.
ESPN described its pricing as “healthy,” and said it has seen most interest from the autos, studios, restaurants and beer/wine categories. The interest follows ESPN and ABC’s highest-rated and most-viewed regular season, as ABC finished with a 3.0 rating and 5.110 million viewers for its 15 telecasts, and ESPN averaged a 1.5 U.S. rating (up 25 percent from last season) and 2.003 million viewers (up 29 percent) for its 73 games.
“We’ve seen a lot of momentum in this postseason, in part due to the buzz the league generated in the offseason with the free agency of several marquee players and a really strong regular season,” said Ed Erhardt, who heads up ESPN’s ad sales department. “We’re seeing several big-market teams with historical relevance performing well, which is always a win for advertisers looking to reach a large, passionate audience.”
Comcast’s Brian Roberts was talking with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman nearly two weeks ago. The two high-ranking executives had known each other a long time. Bettman has been the NHL’s commissioner for 18 years, and Roberts’ Comcast has owned the league’s Flyers franchise for 15 years through Comcast-Spectacor.
Though the two are friends, Bettman had a tough message to deliver: Days earlier, ESPN told the league that it would make an aggressive bid on the NHL’s media package. Bettman told Roberts that ESPN’s planned bid of $160 million to $170 million per year would test NBC’s and Versus’ right-to-match clause, which several media executives described as the tightest such clause they had ever seen. The clause gave NBC the right to match any deal the NHL signed with another network.
But it would be hard for NBC to match ESPN’s planned offer. ESPN told the NHL that it would televise every Stanley Cup playoff game nationally. ESPN said that it would stream the games to authenticated broadband and mobile users. And ESPN guaranteed an international component as part of its planned offer. ESPN’s deal would include a regular-season Game of the Week, but it was not making the broadcast network ABC available. The details were new for Roberts, who did not want to lose the NHL. In early discussions with the league, the NBC Sports Group had resisted the idea of televising every Stanley Cup playoff game nationally. And Comcast could not match ESPN’s streaming plans or international offerings.
It was clear to Roberts that ESPN’s plan was expansive enough that NBC would have trouble matching. He assured Bettman that his company would come up with a plan.
Roberts left the NHL’s offices and huddled with his lieutenants. Days later, NBC’s Dick Ebersol approached the NHL with a new offer. NBC would pay the NHL $187 million per year over 10 years. It would telecast every Stanley Cup playoff game on NBC, Versus and at least one other national cable channel (executives would not identify which one). NBC and Versus would have 100 exclusive windows per season for regular-season games, nearly double the current 60. And NBC committed to broadcast a national game the Friday after Thanksgiving, a day traditionally reserved for college football.
NBC had a deal. The NHL’s top brass, Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Chief Operating Officer John Collins, never went back to ESPN.
The deal is a financial windfall for the league, which is getting $77.5 million a year for its domestic rights. The league thinks telecasting each Stanley Cup playoff game nationally will create the same sort of excitement the NCAA garnered this year during the NCAA tournament.
“This was something really, really important to the league,” Ebersol said. “There was a period where they were free to go out and show their wares and see how pretty the rest of the world felt they were. … Out of this came, I think from everybody who was seeking a deal with the NHL, they wanted an expanded, exclusive playoff relationship where all the games would be visible on the platforms of one company or another.”
The NHL reaped this revenue increase without having to give up its international rights. The league has planned for some time to sell the international rights separately, but around the same time as its domestic rights. Now, with one deal done, most observers expect the international rights to bring in even more money.
“The league can do an international TV and broadband deal without having to split revenue,” said John Shannon, the former NHL executive vice president. “That is huge for the league. I suspect they’ll sign something with ESPN International or Sky. I think the NHL could double their [European] revenue easily.”
The NHL began setting the table for last week’s deal in the fall of 2006, when Bettman hired Collins as COO and charged him with growing the business. Collins launched several big events that became instantly popular, like the Winter Classic. Collins also oversaw significant growth in the media arena, particularly with NHL Network and NHL.com. In February, these changes helped the NHL sign its biggest ever sponsorship deal, with MillerCoors committing to $375 million over seven years to support the league in both the U.S. and Canada.
“We accomplished just about everything we wanted to accomplish,” Collins said of the NBC deal. “We’ve gathered the necessary support from NBC Universal to continue the significant growth that we’ve been able to exhibit on our league platforms.”
The interest in the NHL’s rights shows that the league’s growth plan has worked, a big difference from the last time the NHL negotiated a media deal in 2005, coming out of a lockout. “I remember at the time an ESPN executive being very dismissive of us,” said Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, referring to ESPN’s former programming head Mark Shapiro. “We were down as a league. And we were down as owners.”
Leonsis said he was gratified by the level of media interest this time.
Versus’ and NBC’s exclusive negotiating windows with the NHL ended in late January, allowing the league to gauge interest from other networks.
At the time, the two sides were not particularly close. But NBC knew it wanted to keep the NHL, sources said, and believed its right-to-match clause gave it enough insurance to allow the league out of the exclusive window.
Three suitors immediately emerged.
Fox, which held the NHL’s rights from 1994 to 1999, discussed picking up a package for FX. Fox’s talks were never serious, and the broadcaster dropped out of the running quickly and never submitted a proposal.
Turner was more intrigued. It wanted a package for its TruTV channel, and proposed an NBA-style deal where Turner would manage the league’s digital assets.
The NHL was not interested initially. But after a tour of Turner’s Atlanta studios, they became more intrigued.
Turner’s president of sales, distribution and sports, David Levy, wanted to do a deal. But, sources said, Levy was scared away by the sport’s low ratings. TruTV’s prime-time programming far out-rates the NHL. For 2011 to date, TruTV has averaged 1.1 million viewers in prime time. The NHL on Versus averaged 353,000 viewers in prime-time games this season.
Once Turner realized how much ESPN and NBC were committing to pay the league, it pulled out and did not submit a formal proposal.
For its part, ESPN did not submit a formal proposal, either. But its level of interest helped pushed the rights fee to an all-time high for the league.
“When we looked at the entire package and the relationship to us, it was clear that we were going to be with the incumbent,” Bettman said. “It’s nice to feel pretty.”
Staff writer Fred Dreier contributed to this report.
Inside the regular-season numbers for the NHL
Regular-season viewership on cable TV
SEASON NETWORK NO. OF GAMES AVG. NO. OF VIEWERS 2010-11 Versus 53 353,000 2009-10 Versus 52 297,000 2008-09 Versus 54 318,000 2007-08 Versus 56 272,000 2006-07 Versus 58 212,000 2005-06 Versus 56 162,000 2004-05 Season canceled due to lockout 2003-04 ESPN2 50 282,000 ESPN 20 531,000
Regular-season viewership on broadcast TV
SEASON NETWORK NO. OF GAMES AVG. RATING AVG. NO. OF VIEWERS 2010-11 NBC 11 1.0 1,621,000 2009-10 NBC 10 1.0 1,560,000 2008-09 NBC 10 1.0 1,530,000 2007-08 NBC 10 1.0 1,400,000 2006-07 NBC 9 0.9 1,344,000 2005-06 NBC 6 1.0 1,376,000 2004-05 Season canceled due to lockout 2003-04 ABC 5 1.1 1,547,000
Note: Averages do not include Stanley Cup Final or playoffs.
Source: Austin Karp, SportsBusiness Daily
Personally, I think TV networks should follow the print model and ban its full-time reporters and hosts from being paid cash for any endorsement.
But that’s not going to happen. Not on ESPN. Not on NBC. Not on Fox. Not anywhere. That ship has sailed. On-air talent will continue to act as pitchmen for a variety of products.
But that doesn’t make it right, and these examples show how difficult it would be to rein those endorsement contracts back.
ESPN is trying to regain control over its endorsements. Earlier this month, it developed guidelines for announcers who accept endorsements. In short, reporters and hosts can’t sign endorsement deals with apparel, footwear or athletic equipment companies they may cover.
It’s a no-brainer that sideline reporter Erin Andrews should not be getting paid by Reebok or lead golf anchor Scott Van Pelt should not be on Titleist’s payroll. These financial entanglements open them up to charges of conflict of interest, especially when they report about competitors. ESPN correctly put an end to these types of deals.
“Even though we made that tweak, I don’t believe our coverage has been compromised one bit,” said ESPN’s executive vice president of production Norby Williamson, who was part of the group that came up with the rules. “Clearly, a perception of conflict of interest is there, and we wanted to address that.”
Though I wish the guidelines would go further, it’s commendable that ESPN is taking this step — one that none of the other TV networks are taking. I also have problems with CBS announcer Jim Nantz doing a Sony commercial with Peyton Manning — a quarterback whose games he’s supposed to call impartially. I think viewers can have legitimate questions when Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports on NFL players — or their rivals — in light of the fact that he trains them in the offseason. Talk about conflicts of interest!
CBS, Fox and NBC all said they deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis. “Our talent contracts require endorsement opportunities to be disclosed and provide us with approval rights,” said NBC’s Chris McCloskey.
Look, I know this is sports. It’s entertainment, not life or death. Sports are supposed to be fun, and a lot of these deals highlight that. Nantz, Berman and Vitale aren’t journalists and shouldn’t be confined by journalistic conventions.
But you can’t convince me that it makes good business sense to have people that you want the public to trust on the payroll of companies they talk about on-air. Forget journalism. It’s a core business conduct issue.
“More than 50 percent of the fans probably don’t care,” Williamson said. “But there’s a section of fans that do. If we can improve our product for them, why don’t we do that?”
Under ESPN’s new guidelines, analysts — former athletes and coaches — can continue to have endorsements. Williamson said it would be too difficult to attract top-flight talent to Bristol if they banned those deals. I understand that distinction. I don’t like it, but I don’t have a big problem with it.
Even with ESPN’s changes, though, Berman still will have his Applebee’s and Vitale will not have to give up his Hooters.
“Chris Berman doing Applebee’s doesn’t impact our brand negatively at all,” Williamson said. “I reject the concept that Chris Berman on Applebee’s negatively impacts our ability to report on concussions in the NFL.”
But I think it slowly has been affecting ESPN’s brand. It’s notable that ESPN’s best reporters have no such endorsement deals, like Tom Rinaldi, Rachel Nichols and Jeremy Schaap.
The implicit message is that Rinaldi, Nichols and Schaap are the ones to be taken seriously. Berman? He’s an entertainer, more of a carnival barker for the NFL — even when he talks about concussions. Last year, Berman infuriated NASCAR when he ended ESPN’s NFL pregame show by telling viewers to watch the league on other networks, rather than giving a promo for a coming NASCAR race on ESPN.
Williamson said the distinction between hard news and entertainment occurs frequently within the same show. He referenced a “SportsCenter” from earlier this month that dealt with a lot of hard news, from the Barry Bonds trial to fallout from the gay slur Kobe Bryant uttered to an official.
“In that same show, we did top-10 highlights,” Williamson said. “That’s not hard news. ESPN is not a one-note network.”
By posting new endorsement guidelines and putting all of its announcers’ deals online, ESPN is taking real steps to avoid conflicts of interest. ESPN should do more. But it is a start, and far more than other networks have done.
John Ourand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.
Top teams worldwide for social media
(combined Twitter and Facebook totals)
RANK TEAM TOTAL 1 FC Barcelona 13,540,055 2 Real Madrid 13,255,196 3 Manchester United 12,157,901 4 Los Angeles Lakers 9,577,996 5 Arsenal 5,903,251
Despite the continuing meteoric growth of sports on social media outlets, particularly Facebook and Twitter, most North American sports properties remain well behind top European and Asian soccer clubs in terms of global followers.
Of the 20 individual sports teams in terms of largest combined Facebook and Twitter audiences, nine of them, including the top three and seven of the top eight, are soccer teams from England, Spain or Turkey.
“If there’s anything to be learned from what’s happening abroad, it’s that these [soccer] teams are global brands,” said Bryan Perez, NBA Digital senior vice president and general manager. NBA Digital, a partnership between the league and Turner Sports, collaborates with NBA executives, notably marketing vice president Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, on the property’s social media efforts.
“They have truly vibrant global followings, exactly the kind of thing we’re trying to build here, and social media, of course, is going to be a key tool in that,” Perez said.
Fenway Sports Group, owner of Liverpool FC, which sports a Facebook following of more than 5.2 million, said marketing and commercial elements are not necessarily as overt on social media with many European soccer clubs.
“A lot of what’s happening there is content-based, a lot of unique content, and the players are really involved,” said Billy Hogan, managing director for FSG’s Fenway Sports Management and a key liaison to Liverpool FC and the club’s head of technology, Andrew Robinson.
“They’ve taken extra pains to make sure the social media is primarily about engaging fans, as opposed to it being more marketing related. In fact, they don’t market as much as they maybe could. But they’ve really grasped that it’s one thing … to have someone sign up and follow, but yet another to keep them engaged.”
Back in the U.S., another set of emerging dynamics is at play. The NBA, as it has for some time, holds the largest following of the major leagues with more than 37.8 million total fans and followers when combining the Twitter and Facebook audiences for the central league feed and those of the 30 individual teams.
But numbers and rankings are changing almost by the day. Major League Baseball’s total Facebook and Twitter audience of more than 20.6 million has more than doubled in size just since the end of the 2010 World Series, and projects to be north of 30 million by this fall. The more even balance among team-level followings in MLB and the NFL show a more localized social media fan development strategy than the more league-centric strategies shown by the NBA and others.
“We have an overarching strategy that we want Facebook users to become baseball fans, and not necessarily the other way around,” said Bob Bowman, MLB Advanced Media president and chief executive. “And beyond sheer numbers, we want to grow our [social media] users in two dimensions, both qualitatively and quantitatively, and be truly engaged.”
Clubs’ social media followings are getting large enough that they are dictating long-term, high-level strategic thought on the same level given to traditional broadband and TV programming efforts.
“You’re going to see every league realize that … these are sort of parallel cable networks,” said Michael Lazerow, chief executive of Buddy Media, which has counseled many teams and leagues and built tools for their social media endeavors. “That means you have to program against them with content in a concerted, dedicated way. We definitely continue to move into uncharted waters here.”
Still, debate within the industry percolates as to what social media audience sizes really mean beyond bragging rights.
“Whatever you do in social media ideally has to be tied to some kind of measurable business objective,” said Pat Coyle, president of Coyle Media, which also counsels sports properties and has created SportsFanGraph.com, a real-time ranking of social media followers for teams and leagues. “Whether it’s selling tickets, building an audience for sponsorship or whatever, there needs to be a stronger, direct link.”
MLB RANK LEAGUE/TEAM TOTAL — MLB 1,186,103 321,018 1,507,121 1 N.Y. Yankees 352,191 3,548,692 3,900,883 2 Boston 64,582 2,292,832 2,357,414 3 Philadelphia 618,503 834,722 1,453,225 4 Chicago Cubs 37,049 1,143,409 1,180,458 5 San Francisco 115,534 908,811 1,024,345 6 Atlanta 60,090 662,383 722,473 7 St. Louis 20,957 688,506 709,463 8 L.A. Dodgers 49,085 593,053 642,138 9 Detroit 8,935 595,491 604,426 10 Chicago White Sox 18,409 583,393 601,802 11 Texas 34,982 565,964 600,946 12 Minnesota 9,162 564,309 573,471 13 N.Y.Mets 25,017 375,760 400,777 14 Milwaukee 15,807 357,980 373,787 15 Cincinnati 8,156 340,265 348,421 16 Cleveland 9,560 332,108 341,668 17 Seattle 19,287 301,619 320,906 18 Colorado 10,757 283,627 294,384 19 Tampa Bay 19,480 270,082 289,562 20 Toronto 32,286 249,529 281,815 21 Houston 8,406 271,852 280,258 22 L.A. Angels 16,319 249,052 265,371 23 Oakland 4,894 254,156 259,050 24 Baltimore 16,091 234,827 250,918 25 San Diego 5,968 239,469 245,437 26 Kansas City 18,661 197,670 216,331 27 Pittsburgh 7,647 171,741 179,388 28 Florida 5,350 150,390 155,740 29 Arizona 10,277 126,288 136,565 30 Washington 11,610 84,422 96,032 TOTALS 2,821,155 17,793,420 20,614,575 NBA RANK LEAGUE/TEAM TOTAL — NBA 2,464,557 8,234,810 10,699,367 1 L.A. Lakers 1,944,384 7,633,612 9,577,996 2 Boston 163,676 3,949,904 4,113,580 3 Miami 140,828 2,099,736 2,240,564 4 Chicago 112,249 1,949,103 2,061,352 5 Orlando 1,061,001 771,877 1,832,878 6 N.Y. Knicks 93,409 806,243 899,652 7 Cleveland 65,208 669,770 734,978 8 San Antonio 56,743 612,260 669,003 9 Denver 41,123 530,254 571,377 10 Dallas 48,921 439,799 488,720 11 Phoenix 61,031 425,986 487,017 12 Oklahoma City 38,075 371,321 409,396 13 Houston 42,415 306,261 348,676 14 Portland 32,600 252,356 284,956 15 Detroit 26,226 251,026 277,252 16 Utah 36,090 229,750 265,840 17 Toronto 30,693 204,690 235,383 18 GoldenState 25,700 203,337 229,037 19 Philadelphia 31,229 154,015 185,244 20 Milwaukee 22,524 137,442 159,966 21 New Jersey 38,782 103,223 142,005 22 Atlanta 21,968 119,081 141,049 23 Sacramento 23,295 116,935 140,230 24 L.A. Clippers 34,475 77,865 112,340 25 Indiana 22,787 84,273 107,060 26 Washington 25,563 77,556 103,119 27 Minnesota 18,524 79,813 98,337 28 Charlotte 20,524 60,939 81,463 29 Memphis 23,882 55,419 79,301 30 New Orleans 26,140 33,912 60,052 TOTALS 6,794,622 31,042,568 37,837,190 NHL RANK LEAGUE/TEAM TOTAL — NHL 570,605 1,491,130 2,061,735 1 Montreal 124,808 641,313 766,121 2 Chicago 65,830 698,308 764,138 3 Boston 39,875 577,970 617,845 4 Pittsburgh 80,386 522,482 602,868 5 Philadelphia 43,925 518,549 562,474 6 Detroit 54,049 502,026 556,075 7 Vancouver 86,485 364,941 451,426 8 Toronto 48,679 378,764 427,443 9 Washington 39,247 305,748 344,995 10 N.Y. Rangers 34,212 242,980 277,192 11 Colorado 18,900 228,201 247,101 12 SanJose 29,197 206,652 235,849 13 Buffalo 24,663 195,921 220,584 14 New Jersey 22,684 165,880 188,564 15 Edmonton 41,818 127,345 169,163 16 Minnesota 19,149 126,285 145,434 17 Los Angeles 27,535 110,674 138,209 18 St. Louis 22,479 115,501 137,980 19 Anaheim 19,727 118,138 137,865 20 Carolina 14,908 115,837 130,745 21 Tampa Bay 18,949 109,923 128,872 22 Dallas 20,546 100,457 121,003 23 Ottawa 17,579 89,879 107,458 24 Calgary 37,492 61,943 99,435 25 Nashville 14,014 59,650 73,664 26 Phoenix 10,962 46,073 57,035 27 Columbus 14,055 42,859 56,914 28 N.Y. Islanders 10,629 32,969 43,598 29 Florida 11,332 32,074 43,406 30 Atlanta 11,895 30,574 42,469 TOTALS 1,596,614 8,361,046 9,957,660 NFL RANK LEAGUE/TEAM TOTAL — NFL 2,033,992 3,002,111 5,036,103 1 Dallas 72,466 2,573,707 2,646,173 2 Pittsburgh 83,925 2,209,866 2,293,791 3 New England 87,209 1,935,500 2,022,709 4 GreenBay 71,436 1,500,069 1,571,505 5 Chicago 45,988 1,498,398 1,544,386 6 New Orleans 49,175 1,292,911 1,342,086 7 Indianapolis 8,831 1,066,858 1,075,689 8 Minnesota 47,351 918,788 966,139 9 Philadelphia 33,945 904,106 938,051 10 N.Y. Jets 134,346 747,875 882,221 11 Oakland 53,981 784,584 838,565 12 N.Y. Giants 10,668 789,205 799,873 13 San Diego 58,340 720,539 778,879 14 Miami 47,843 643,620 691,463 15 San Francisco 49,903 597,615 647,518 16 Denver 44,505 595,507 640,012 17 Washington 19,130 555,803 574,933 18 Baltimore 32,901 501,231 534,132 19 Seattle 34,587 460,163 494,750 20 Kansas City 30,109 408,098 438,207 21 Cincinnati 38,190 386,092 424,282 22 Detroit 21,443 316,817 338,260 23 Cleveland 32,650 265,944 298,594 24 Houston 22,966 259,056 282,022 25 Tampa Bay 18,287 246,987 265,274 26 Arizona 5,614 245,479 251,093 27 Buffalo 24,635 221,201 245,836 28 Tennessee 30,663 204,755 235,418 29 Carolina 15,956 205,144 221,100 30 Atlanta 43,495 160,486 203,981 31 Jacksonville 13,692 160,422 174,114 32 St. Louis 15,241 90,754 105,995 TOTALS 3,333,463 26,469,691 29,803,154 Worldwide
RANK TEAM TOTAL 1 FC Barcelona 660,378 12,879,677 13,540,055 2 Real Madrid 1,441,758 11,813,438 13,255,196 3 Manchester United 0 12,157,901 12,157,901 4 Los Angeles Lakers 1,944,384 7,633,612 9,577,996 5 Arsenal 567,179 5,336,072 5,903,251 6 Galatasaray 101,801 5,203,835 5,305,636 7 Liverpool 4,109 5,260,015 5,264,124 8 Chelsea 170,095 4,898,204 5,068,299 9 Boston Celtics 163,676 3,949,904 4,113,580 10 New York Yankees 352,191 3,548,692 3,900,883 11 Fenerbahçe 0 3,790,151 3,790,151 12 AC Milan 60,604 3,417,345 3,477,949 13 Dallas Cowboys 72,466 2,573,707 2,646,173 14 Boston Red Sox 64,582 2,292,832 2,357,414 15 Pittsburgh Steelers 83,925 2,209,866 2,293,791 16 Miami Heat 140,828 2,099,736 2,240,564 17 Chicago Bulls 112,249 1,949,103 2,061,352 18 New England Patriots 87,209 1,935,500 2,022,709 19 Orlando Magic 1,061,001 771,877 1,832,878 20 Green Bay Packers 71,436 1,500,069 1,571,505 Leagues and Properties LEAGUE/PROPERTY TOTAL NBA 2,464,557 8,234,810 10,699,367 WWE 311,614 5,122,833 5,434,447 UFC 239,423 5,157,739 5,397,162 NFL 2,033,992 3,002,111 5,036,103 IOC 53,796 2,120,292 2,174,088 NHL 570,605 1,491,130 2,061,735 NASCAR 116,039 1,421,220 1,537,259 MLB 1,186,103 321,018 1,507,121 WTA 17,482 752,335 769,817 ATP World Tour 62,859 383,151 446,010 USOC/Team USA 13,004 325,247 338,251 PGA Tour 73,339 261,710 335,049 NHRA 10,532 217,313 227,845 MLS 20,877 171,408 192,285 Formula One 88,406 41,481 129,887 Indy Racing League 19,966 37,874 57,840
About the research
The charts presented here show the number of Twitter “followers” and Facebook “likes” for team and league sites as of April 19. The teams are ranked by their combined number of fans across the two sites.
The sites tracked were those sites identified as “official sites” by the leagues and teams. Many teams do have multiple sites — official and unofficial — used to reach fans, including sites created by front-office personnel.
Player sites also provide points of access, but for this listing, only “official sites” were monitored.
Numbers listed reflect what was reported on each individual site. For the league/property and worldwide teams charts, teams were identified for listing by the rankings available from SportsFanGraph.com, and the individual sites’ updated numbers were then taken directly from the listed sites.