Ravens Fans Fall Short in Emory Report

Street Talk Ravens Fans Fall Short in Emory Report

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Research by a professor at Emory University in Georgia found the Ravens are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to fan loyalty.

Michael Lewis, who teaches at the Goizueta School of Business, puts together an annual “quantitative analysis of NFL fandom.” 

In short, he uses three main metrics to gauge the loyalty of the fans for each NFL team.

— Fan Equity or “home box office revenues;” how much the average fan spends.

— Social Media Equity or the fans’ willingness to engage as part of a team’s community or social media platforms. 

— Road Equity or how the team draws at opposing stadiums after adjusting for overall performance. 

“These metrics provide a balanced analyses of fandom – a measure of willingness to spend, a measure unconstrained by stadium size and a measure of national appeal,” Lewis said.

The Ravens finished 18th among the NFL’s 32 teams. 

While team’s fans are willing to spend money (ranked sixth overall), they don’t represent the team well on the road (ranked 31), according to Lewis. Ravens fans ranked 18th for being engaged with the team in the community and via social media. 

The Dallas Cowboys were ranked No. 1 overall, followed by the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. 

“The top five fan bases (team brands if you prefer) are the Cowboys, Patriots, Eagles, Giants and Steelers,” Lewis said.  “This is unchanged from the last two years – leaving me with little to say. The Cowboys have long been NFL royalty and the Patriots are now firmly established at the top of the league. It remains to be seen if the Patriots will remain near the top when Brady and Belichick move on.

“In past years I have noted that the Eagles are a bit of a surprise.  But the strong social and road scores keep the Eagles near the top. The Steelers could probably be a bit higher on the list. The Steelers tend to price near the middle of the league and this limits their Fan Equity score.”

This report  — esoteric as it is — might rankle some Ravens fans. However, there is no denying there has been some apathy toward the team over the last few years.

Ravens fans celebrating at the Super Bowl XLVII parade

Photo by Doug Kapustin

A three-year playoff drought that ended last season certainly played a role in declining attendance. Many older, original PSL owners are opting to watch the games at home, rather than deal with the hassle of driving and parking downtown. Sometimes, they are unsuccessful selling their tickets, which leads to empty seats. There is a perception that downtown Baltimore is unsafe and that scares some fans away. Finally, there is still some lingering bitterness about the players taking a knee in London during the 2017 season. 

Despite these factors, the Ravens averaged 70,431 fans per game last season — a 99.2 percent capacity rate at M&T Bank Stadium, according to ESPN. Dallas was also ranked No. 1 in that category with an average attendance of 91,619, which was 91.6 percent of its stadium’s capacity.  

The Ravens have been proactive getting fans into the seats with updated scoreboards, giveaways and a the construction of a new escalator to help older fans have easier access to the 500 level.

The team also appears to be trending upward with new general manager Eric DeCosta. He has constructed a solid roster for 2019 and will have more salary-cap space in 2020 to make some bigger moves. 

And take heed, Ravens fans. The Browns were ranked No. 27 and the Cincinnati Bengals finished one spot below them at No. 28 in Lewis’ report

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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