Editors Note: While it is not certain that MLB will avoid a work stoppage when the current CBA expires at the end of 2011, the league and MLBPA seem to be on far better footing than the NFL and NBA in terms of labor relations. A strike or lockout in either league could bolster MLB's position further in terms of popularity.
After years in the #2 spot, Major League Baseball is now tied with the National Football League with the "most loyal fans," according to the 15th annual 2010 Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Index, a survey which helps professional sports teams increase broadcast, ticket and merchandise revenues by providing loyalty rankings and fan diagnostics in their home and national markets.
2010 League Rankings
"The Sports Loyalty Engagement Index gives an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity with which fans support professional sport leagues and their home team vs. the corresponding values for the fans of other teams in the market," said Robert Passikoff, president of New York- based Brand Keys, Inc.
"These insights allow leagues and teams to identify areas that need strategic reinforcement. Done correctly, an increase in broadcast viewership, merchandise purchase, and ticket revenue will follow, and happier fans. Everybody loves a winner, but it's important to note that win/loss ratios do not entirely govern fan loyalty," noted Brand Keys' Passikoff.
Fan loyalty is driven in four ways:
How well a team does, but more importantly, how exciting is their play?
How well they play as a team. New stadia can help on this driver. Oftentimes, so can a new Manager.
Are players respected and admired? and
Is the game and the team part of a fan's and a community's rituals, institutions and beliefs?
The Red Sox are seen to have the most loyal fans, according to Brand Keys. The Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins are the biggest gainers in this year's report for MLB
Select Read More to see the top 5 teams for MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL in terms of fan loyality
The top-5 teams in each league in terms of fan loyalty for 2010:
National Basketball Association:
1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Boston Celtics
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Dallas Mavericks/Detroit Pistons
5. Utah Jazz
National Football League:
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Tennessee Titans
5. New York Jets
National Hockey League:
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. San Jose Sharks
4. New Jersey Devils
5. Boston Bruins
Major League Baseball:
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Anaheim Angels/Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Minnesota Twins/Milwaukee Brewers
Teams with the largest growth in fan loyalty include the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA (both up five positions), the New Orleans Saints (+6) and the Minnesota Vikings (+5) in the NFL, and the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins in MLB, both up 4 positions.
In the National Hockey League no team moved up more than one position, although many moved down as many as 4 rankings. The bottom 5 in fan loyality for MLB are:
17. Arizona Diadmondbacks
18. Washington Nationals
19. Kansas City Royals
20. Baltimore Orioles
21. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index is an outgrowth of Brand Keys' specialization in measuring customer loyalty that began with work for the National Football League in the mid-90's. Interviews are conducted by telephone and in-person (to account for cell phone-only fans) includes 150+ local fans for each professional sports team in the four major leagues. Participants self- select a preference for a particular league and then indicate an allegiance to the local team being evaluated. The methodology identifies the four drivers of fan loyalty and rates each team on each of the drivers. The respondents are also asked to rate the sports leagues that they're interested in on an overall basis.
"Since overall league and team rankings correlate very highly with TV viewership and sales of licensed merchandise, rankings can be influenced depending upon how loyalty drivers are addressed and managed," said Passikoff. "It's critical that marketers do accurate scouting regarding the strategic game they intend to play with their fans because today, when it comes to loyalty, there are no free-agent fans!"
Source: Brand Keys, Inc.
OTHER NEWS FROM THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK
(THE BIZ OF HOCKEY)
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook