Loyal To A Fault? NFL Tags MLB, Returns To Top Of Brand Keys Fan Loyalty Survey
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 06:24PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Brand Keys, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Surveys, fan surveys, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

April 10, 2019: Maybe it was the “100-Year Game” commercial featuring more than 60 players and legends that aired during Super Bowl LIII, or an activation offering fans two season tickets to the team of their choice for 100 years.

The NFL has returned to a position it held for a decade before relinquishing it for two years to MLB: No. 1 in fan loyalty.

Having embarked on its 100th anniversary, the NFL finds itself back atop the impactful 27th annual Sports Loyalty Index survey conducted by research and media intelligence firm Brand Keys.

MLB, which had been the loyalty leader in the past two surveys, is now No. 2.

The Top 4: NFL, MLB, NBA and the NHL.

“All sports fans have an ‘ideal lLeague’ in mind,” Robert Passikoff, founder and president for Brand Keys, said via the New York-based firm.

“The league that better meets fans’ very high expectations for game features and values that drive loyalty always sees higher TV game viewership and purchases of licensed merchandise than competitors.”

According to Passikoff, Brand Keys’ Sports Loyalty Index was designed to help professional sports team management identify precise fan loyalty rankings.

“Fan loyalty ratings never lie,” said Passikoff.

“They’re a leading indicator of fan behavior and team profitability and are a key statistic professional sports teams should track because it always tells us what fans are going to do. And what teams they’re going to watch.”

The NFL’s drop from No. 1 in 2017 and 2018 coincided with several significant factors, including the heated debate over players and the National Anthem, the relocation of the Rams and Chargers to Los Angeles and the Raiders unveiling a plan to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, serious off-field situations involving domestic violence and drugs and a rising awareness of concussions and other health problems relating to current and former players.

Those situations still exist, but the NFL appears to have weathered the storm, at least as far as fans being loyal to the league.

“Besides win-loss ratios, there are other powerful, emotionally-based loyalty drivers that need to be taken into account when it comes to fans,” said Passikoff.  “It’s critical that league marketers manage strategically to better meet fan expectations.

“You have to know what fans really expect, beyond a winning season. And since league (and team) loyalty rankings correlate very highly with fans’ positive behaviors, loyalty is a leading-indicator of TV viewership and product purchases.”

According to Brand Keys, the NFL was the only league among the Big 4 that saw a rise in year-over-year TV viewership ratings.

The NFL was up 5%, while MLB was down 4%, the NBA down 10% and the NHL down 12%.

Brand Keys said four key factors go in to its Sports Loyalty Survey calculations:

• History and Tradition (29%): Is the game and the league part of fans’ and community rituals, institutions, and ‘tribal’ beliefs?

• Fan Bonding (27%): Are players particularly respected and admired?

• Pure Entertainment (24%): Win-loss ratios for sure, but more importantly, how entertaining is their play? Is it a consistent experience year-to-year?

• Authenticity (20%): How well they play as a team. Do they seem unified? Does it involve skill and strategy?

Brand Keys said that 18,550 fans participated in the 27th annual Sports Loyalty Index survey.

Back to Home Page

Article originally appeared on NYSportsJournalism.com (http://www.nysportsjournalism.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.