While sports fans are impatiently waiting for the Super Bowl LVII – the most prestigious annual team sports event in Northern America – social networks are buzzing with expectations, predictions and anything related to the big occasion. Tracking this excitement, Euromonitor International is taking a deeper look at the two contestants, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, in terms of social media strategies, fanbase size and the platforms driving fanbase growth to understand the attention generated around the two franchises online and what this means within the broader league context.
If outcome depended on fanbase size, Eagles would bring it home
Ranked highly in Euromonitor International’s Club Index, covering over 800 clubs across nine team sports globally (Philadelphia Eagles – 24th, Kansas City Chiefs – 34th among all teams), both franchises are well above an average NFL side in terms of attention generated on social networks.
Both franchises are well above an average NFL side in terms of attention generated on social networks
Eagles enjoy a higher following compared to their Super Bowl opponents, although the gap is not significant. However, when analysing the composition of fanbase, there is an important difference. Eagles rely more heavily on established social media networks (Facebook, Twitter), while the majority of Chiefs fans engage on Instagram and TikTok. This could indicate the latter focusing more on emerging platforms as they start to rise up the NFL ranks, but perhaps more important is the factor of recent successes Chiefs have had on the field. Winning Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2020, getting one step from repeating the success in 2021 and having the league’s most exciting quarterback prospect in Patrick Mahomes helped to draw many new, and younger, fans over the last few years.
Social Media Following: NFL
Source: Euromonitor International
Seasonality has a strong impact on fan attention in NFL
NFL has the shortest season among the “Big Four” US leagues, with only 18 weeks of regular season and subsequent playoffs. Naturally, this means a rather narrow window for stakeholders to capitalise on business opportunities and audience activations. The NFL offseason lasts from February to August and is subject to fierce competition from other team sports (basketball, baseball). All this makes it crucial for franchises to keep their fans engaged and to develop yearlong content strategies to counteract the “empty” months of the year.
This attention seasonality is evident from the number of followers joining the social media accounts of Philadelphia Eagles over the last year. There was a minimal inflow of new fans throughout the first six months, before peaking as the season started. It is interesting to note that Super Bowl attracts massive numbers of fans, including those who previously might not have been interested in the game. Both finalists of 2022’s game, LA Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, saw their new follower count dwarfing all other months of the year in February when the event occurred.
Social Media Follower Growth 2022: Philadelphia Eagles
Source: Euromonitor International
Instagram and TikTok drive followers, while Twitter is still where the conversation takes place
Across the majority of NFL franchises, Instagram and TikTok are two main channels where new online fans are generated. This can be explained by the appeal of visual content as well as the booming popularity of short videos. Football is a game of highlight moments that can be brought to fans in the form of quick, streamlined and easy-to-consume content.
Across the majority of NFL franchises, Instagram and TikTok are two main channels where new online fans are generated
At the same time, the number of posts data indicates that Twitter remains the favourite channel for franchises to communicate with their fans. For instance, the post rate by Chiefs on their official Twitter account is more than five times higher compared to on their second most popular Instagram account. Recent troubles aside, Twitter seems to retain its famous strong points, such as the convenience to post quick updates, retweets and being able to host diverse types of content. It is also traditionally popular among internet users in the US. Finally, in the past, Twitter has frequently been a hub for discussions on social and political issues, often involving sports, which has resonated with fans willing to express their stance on these matters.
Super Bowl presents major opportunities, but long-term strategies remain essential
Playing in the Super Bowl alone is a major win for any franchise in terms of boosting its global following. Outside of the US and excluding devoted American football connoisseurs, it is the touch point with the sport that reaches and resonates with international fans, placing any franchise finalist firmly on their radar. Throughout the year however, franchises need to ensure their content strategies adapt to different stages of the season and to increasingly channel communication to platforms where fans of the future are.
To read more about global ranking of sports clubs and leagues, refer to our report, The League and Club Indices 2022