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How Do Small Market NFL Teams Stack Up on Social Media?

How Do Small Market NFL Teams Stack Up on Social Media?

As the 2023 NFL season hits its stride, we take a closer look at the small market NFL teams. These are the franchises hailing from cities with fewer residents. The question: do these teams receive less love on social media? We’ve analyzed Instagram data from the 2023 season kickoff on September 7th to the end of Week 3, to uncover whether engagement differs between these smaller market teams and their larger counterparts. 

Defining Small Market NFL Teams

Small market NFL teams refer to franchises located in cities or regions with comparatively lower television market sizes. According to Nielsen’s 2022-2023 TV market size estimates, the Green Bay Packers emerge as the smallest market team, followed closely by the Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Las Vegas Raiders. These teams operate in areas with lower population densities or smaller media markets, which can present unique challenges in terms of fan base size, sponsorships, and revenue generation compared to their counterparts in larger markets. Despite these hurdles, these teams often have passionate and dedicated fan bases.

Chart showcasing the 32 NFL Teams by Market Size

Looking at the Top 15 NFL Teams in Terms of Engagement

In terms of engagement, the top 15 NFL teams have shown remarkable power in captivating their fan base. Surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers, considered the smallest market team, secured a commendable 14th position in this ranking. What’s even more impressive is that 9 out of these 15 teams hail from TV markets with less than 2 million viewers.

Bar chart showing the top 15 NFL teams in terms of engagement

Historic 70-20 Win Propels Miami Dolphins Engagement

The Miami Dolphins’ top position in engagement can be attributed to a combination of factors. A significant catalyst for their remarkable engagement surge was their astounding 70-20 victory over the Denver Broncos on September 24. This historic win not only showcased the Dolphins’ exceptional performance on the field with a 3-0 start to the season but also resulted in a rare phenomenon known as a “scorigami.” A scorigami occurs when a final score combination happens for the very first time. This groundbreaking event promptly sparked discussions and debates among sports enthusiasts, further elevating the Dolphins’ presence and generating a buzz around their impressive accomplishment. 

Vikings Secure Second Spot in Engagement, Despite Tough Start

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves at the second spot in social media engagement, despite their smaller market size of 1.84 million viewers. However, much of the conversation surrounding the team centers on the challenging 0-3 start to the season, particularly the performance of their quarterback, Kirk Cousins. This disappointing streak has sparked intense scrutiny and discussions among fans and analysts alike.

Market Size Does Not Appear To Impact Engagement

The Green Bay Packers, with an impressive 9.52 million engagements in the initial three weeks of the season, serve as a compelling testament to the fact that market size doesn’t singularly dictate a team’s capacity to cultivate engagement on social media. While they hail from a smaller market, their dedicated following rivals even some of the largest franchises in the league. Conversely, it’s evident that being in a major market doesn’t guarantee high engagement. The Los Angeles Rams, despite being situated in a significant media market, didn’t secure a spot in the top 15. This emphasizes that a team’s success in terms of social media engagement is made up of a variety of factors, including performance on the field, community engagement, and the team’s ability to forge emotional connections with its fan base, rather than solely relying on the size of their market.

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