By Barry Janoff
(Originally published at MediaPost)
April 25, 2013: Baseball fans are passionate, loyal and very protective of their game's perceived status as the "national pastime." But it turns out that some fan bases are more passionate and loyal than others.
Put the San Francisco Giants at the top of the list. The defending World Series champions have the No. 1 fan base in Major League Baseball, according to a just-published ranking from online ticket broker TicketCity.
The Austin, Texas-based firm said that the Giants — which also won the title in 2010— come out on top based on "an algorithm that evaluates fan activity in terms of home game attendance (percentage of total capacity), median ticket price, ticket demand and social media following."
These numbers, according to TicketCity, provide a "unique perspective as to which MLB fans are the most engaged with their team both online and offline."
Giants fans have been filling AT&T Stadium "to 100% capacity at the beginning of the 2013 season in addition to driving one of the most in-demand tickets in MLB," according to TicketCity. In 2012, the Giants drew about 3.4 million to their home venue.
Giants fans are well-engaged via social media, as well. The team has more than 2.1 million followers on Twitter (413,000) and Facebook (1.7 million) combined. Among all MLB teams, that total trails only the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees are second in TicketCity's first study of "most engaged" MLB fan bases. The team topped the American League attendance last season and was second overall in MLB with more than 3.5 million people through the Yankee Stadium turnstiles in 2012. The team leads in social media followers, as well, with 872,000 on Twitter and more than 6.3 million on Facebook. The 7.17 million-plus is more than three million ahead of the Boston Red Sox, second overall in combined Twitter-Facebook followers and third on TicketCity's chart.
Boston has a Twitter following of 423,000 and more than 3.7 million on Facebook for a combined 4.1 million from those two social media destinations. The Red Sox also hit the three million mark in attendance at Fenway Park last season.
Following the Giants, Yankees and Red Sox in the Top Five are the Los Angeles Dodgers (Twitter 269,800 followers, Facebook 1.3 million followers, 3.34 million 2012 attendance) and the Philadelphia Phillies (Twitter 753,400, Facebook 1.3 million, plus an MLB-leading 3.56 million attendance in 2012.)
The Top Ten also includes (in order): Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles. Down at the other end, the San Diego Padres have just over 72,000 Twitter followers, the Arizona Diamondbacks barely pass the 77,000 mark and the Houston Astros have fewer than 78,000 Twitter followers.
Major League Baseball itself is also connecting with fans via social media. The league has 2.83 million followers on Twitter and about 4.5 million Facebook followers.
MLB, though, still has a way to go. By comparison, the NFL has more than 4.55 million followers on Twitter and 7.1 million followers on Facebook. But even that trails the NBA, which has nearly 7 million Twitter followers and more than 16 million Facebook followers.
The NHL has about 1.7 million Twitter followers and 2,7 million Facebook followers, and Nascar just over 1 million followers on Twitter and more than 3.3 million Facebook followers.
Seven of the MLB teams included in TicketCity's Top Ten have made World Series appearances since 2007. Only the Dodgers, Orioles and Cubs have missed out on the Fall Classic in that period. Among the World Series winners since 2007 on the TicketCity list are the Giants (2012, 2010), Cardinals (2011), Yankees (2009), Philadelphia Phillies (2008) and Red Sox (2007). The Rangers have been to the World Series twice (2010-11) and the Tigers once (2012).
"The Dodgers have returned to the top of the attendance ranking . . . And there’s no arguing that Dodgers Stadium is an absolute gem."
According to TicketCity, "The attractiveness of home stadiums may also benefit Top Ten teams in engaging fans. Post-Frank McCourt (former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is now owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management, a consortium that includes Earvin "Magic" Johnson), the Dodgers have returned to the top of the attendance ranking ... And there’s no arguing that Dodgers Stadium is an absolute gem."
The Chicago Cubs, which haven’t been to a World Series since 1908, are No. 9 on the TicketCity fan engagement list. More than 2.9 million people attended games at Wrigley Field last season and more than 1.9 million people follow the team on Twitter (226,700) and Facebook (1.7 million).
"[The Cubs] have built a fan culture around Wrigley Field," according to TicketCity. Well aware of this prime selling point, the Cubs this month signed a deal for a $500 million renovation of the venue, which will have its centennial anniversary in 2014.
Top Ten Fan-Engaged MLB Teams, 2013
1. San Francisco Giants: Twitter 413K, Facebook 1.7M Total 2.11M); 2012 attendance 3.37M
2. New York Yankees: Twitter 872K, Facebook 6.3M (Total 7.17M); 2012 attendance 3.54M
3. Boston Red Sox: Twitter 423K Facebook 3.7M (Total 4.1M) 2012 attendance 3M
4. Los Angeles Dodgers: Twitter 269.8K, Facebook 1.3M (Total 1.57M); 2012 attendance 3.34M
5. Philadelphia Phillies: Twitter 753.4K, Facebook 1.3M (Total 2M); 2012 attendance 3.56M
6. Texas Rangers: Twitter 269K, Facebook 1.4M (1.67M); 2012 attendance 3.46M
7. Detroit Tigers: Twitter 243K, Facebook 1.1M (Total 1.3M); 2012 attendance 3M
8. St. Louis Cardinals: Twitter 271.8K, Facebook 1.4M (Total 1.67M); 2012 attendance 3.26M
9. Chicago Cubs: Twitter 226.7K, Facebook 1.7M (Total 1.9M); 2012 attendance 2.9M
10. Baltimore Orioles: Twitter 133K, Facebook 458K (691K); 2012 attendance 2.1M