By Barry Janoff
October 12, 2014: LeBron James has been named MVP of the NBA four times, MVP of the NBA Finals twice and All-Star Game MVP two times.
Now, he can add social media MVP to the list.
James tops the just-released 2014 MVPindex ranking of the 100 "world's most powerful pro athletes in the U.S.," compiled by sports marketing and data firm Stout Partners and Horrow Sports Ventures in conjunction with Bloomberg Sports.
The Top Ten also includes quarterback Russell Wilson of the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), golfer Rory McIlroy, Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys) and Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers).
(Editor's Note: The report was compiled and released prior to Durant's injury.)
Despite its recent challenges, the NFL proved to be the most powerful MVPindex league, leading the Top 25 with nine athletes, followed by the NBA (6), tennis (5), MLB (3) and golf and Nascar with one each (McIlroy and Jeff Gordon at No. 25, respectively).
The NFL also led the Top 100 with 30 players, followed by the NBA (21), MLB (15), tennis (13), Nascar (9), golf (7) and the NHL (5).
Stout Partners said that the MVPindex provides brands, teams and leagues with "data and analysis of the best-performing content, competitive analyses, and the knowledge and best practices they need to create more impactful campaigns in the future. [It was] designed to help enhance and quantify engagement for brands, consumers and media companies around 'sponsorable' sports-related assets such as teams, leagues, athletes and venues."
"MVPindex measures what people 'really' care about, not what they 'say' they care about," Kyle Nelson, co-founder and CMO for Stout Partners, said in a statement. "Traditionally, sports marketers have relied on survey-based tools to gather intelligence on athletes. MVPindex both captures and measures conversations in real-time across the 'socialsphere' to evaluate an athletes' sponsorship value."
The Power 100 was compiled using what was described as a "complex statistical model to accurately compare performance and influence through on-field and off-field attributes," listing players by their "Total Power" results.
Total Power is based 50% on on-field attributes using "sport-specific indicator statistics (and) a multiplier based on popularity and viewing audience of that sport" and 50% on social media strength based on "reach, engagement and conversation," according to Stout Partners and Horrow Sports.
James led all players with a Total Power of 95.27. Among the numbers crunched ito determine his No. 1 status, James has 15.4 million followers on Twitter and 21.6 million Facebook likes.
Wilson's TP was 94.04 (897,000 Twitter followers, 1.28 million Facebook likes), Durant 's TP was 93.90 (8.3 million Twitter followers, 9.5 million Faebook likes), McIlroy's TP was 93.89 (2.17 million followers on Twitter, 672,000 Facebook likes) and Trout's TP was 92.27 (548,000 Twitter followers, 325,000 Facebook likes).
The highest-ranked NHL players among the Top 100 are Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (No. 63) and New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (No. 65).
There were only six women athletes among the Top 100, all tennis players, led by Serena Williams (No. 20, TP 87.56) and Maria Sharapova (No. 24, TP 86.7). There were no athletes from the LPGA or WNBA.
Boxing, MMA and soccer were not included in the 2014 Power 100 rankings, a change from earlier iterations of the rankings, according to Horrow Sports Ventures. (See the full list here.)
This is the fifth annual Power 100 list from Horrow but the first using the MVPindex following an alliance formed last month between Dallas-based Stout Partners and sports analytic technology firm Bloomberg Sports, NY.
It also is the first since Bloomberg Sports was acquired last month by sports technology, data and content company STATS, Northbrook, Ill.
Among the seven golfers was Jordan Spieth (No. 95), son of Stout Partners co-founder Shawn Speith.
On a regular basis, MVPindex "looks at the real time social and digital footprint of more than 20,000 athletes and compares those footprints across sports," according to Stout Partners.
"People are spending more time in social media than watching TV, reading magazines or listening to the radio," said Nelson. "So, it just makes sense that a new measurement model is introduced."
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