By any measurable figure, you would think Buffalo Bills fans would be near the top of any sort of NFL fan ranking. They have sold the most season tickets in franchise history despite not making the playoffs in 15 years, they travel in force, and they are known for their dedication. But one analytics site does not agree, and their opinion comes down to one factor: money spent.
Some number-crunchers at Emory Univeristy put together a list of what they called "Fan Equity" to be able to compare fan bases. But several loyal, excellent fan bases don't appear near the top, including the Bills' fan base. Let's allow them to explain why:
"In terms of the nuts and bolts of what we are about to present, we use fifteen years of data on NFL team performance, ticket prices, market populations, median incomes, won-loss records and multiple other factors. We create statistical models of box office revenue, and then see which teams over- and under- perform the model's predictions. For a much fuller description, and some limitations about what we are doing click here."
Distilling that information, the Bills' team performance over the last 15 years has been poor, and the won-loss record the same. Ticket prices have been low, and Buffalo is a smaller market with lower median incomes. Essentially, because Buffalo is a smaller market, they are punished on the list. The affordability that works in Buffalo (and in Pittsburgh, and in Green Bay) knocks them down.
"It's one thing to just say you are a fan of a local team, and quite another to be willing to pay several thousand dollars to purchase a season ticket," says the study. What the study is quantifying, then, isn't "Fan Equity" - they're quantifying "Brand Equity," and those are two totally different things. The New York Jets brand is worth more because it's near New York City, with bigger corporate sponsors and deeper-pocketed fans who will pay more money to see a game. But would those fans drive four hours to attend a game that was snowed out, like Bills fans did?
Don't get frustrated with the low ranking of Bills fans. A simple word swap makes it easier to swallow.