AUSTIN, Texas – DECEMBER 20, 2018 – MVPindex, the standard for real-time audience measurement in sports and entertainment, today released its 2018 ranking report of the Top 50 Teams in social media. For this year’s list, MVPindex looked at the social media platforms and content that delivered for the five major U.S. professional sports leagues – NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS.
To determine the most valued teams, MVPindex ranks them using a proprietary algorithm called the MVPindex Engagement Value Assessment® or EVA, which evaluates all of their social activity throughout the past year to determine the potential market value of a property’s social media footprint, including but not limited to: Reach (fans, followers, impressions), Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, favorites) and Conversation (positive/negative mentions).
The NBA continued its domination of the annual rankings in 2018, taking four of the Top 5 spots on the list, including the year’s Number 1 team, the Golden State Warriors, whose social footprint is worth an estimated $512 million. The Cleveland Cavaliers ($365 million) and the Los Angeles Lakers ($294 million) finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, while the Boston Celtics came in at No. 5 ($180 million).
The year’s most valuable Major League Baseball (MLB) team is the Los Angeles Dodgers at the No. 4 spot overall with an EVA of $269 million, and the Dallas Cowboys, who finished ranked at No. 6 overall with an EVA of $173 million, claimed the top spot in the National Football League (NFL). Rounding out the Top 10 are the Houston Rockets (No. 7); the Boston Red Sox (No. 8); the New England Patriots (No. 9); and the Chicago Bulls (No. 10).
The year’s highest-performing National Hockey League (NHL) team was the Pittsburgh Penguins who finished at No. 25 overall with an EVA of $66 million, while Major League Soccer (MLS) team Atlanta United topped its peers with an EVA of $27 million, landing it outside the Top 50 at the No. 64 spot overall. The complete list of the 2018 MVPindex Top 50 Teams and additional insights can be found here. For a look at MVPindex’s Winning Moments in Social 2018, click here.
This year’s Top 5 teams in terms of social media market value also happen to be the Top 5 teams in terms of social media engagement. This comes as no surprise to MVPindex Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Nelson.
“For properties and the brands that sponsor them, engagement is the best indicator of how much value they are delivering across social,” Nelson said. “It’s not necessarily about how many followers a team or player has or even how often they post, though both are certainly important. Rather, it’s about the quality and authenticity of the content and how deep and often their fans engage with it. This year’s rankings prove once again that social media has the power to build deeper relationships with fans and deliver real ROI.”
How Winning on the Field Impacts Social Performance
The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles received a super boost in social performance in 2018. Compared to the year prior, the Eagles increased their number of social media posts across all platforms by 59 percent vs. 2017, which helped the team boost engagement by a whopping 115 percent and add an additional $56 million in social value year-over-year.
Despite being the top team in the U.S. in both engagement and social value in 2018, the Golden State Warriors have actually seen declines in both categories compared to the same timeframe in 2017. Their total engagement is down 17 percent, and their total social value is down $26 million compared to the year before – despite gaining nearly four million new social followers. The Warriors’ fans have pretty high expectations after back-to-back world championships, so it may be a little tougher to get them to engage than fans of the average team.
Coming off a 2017 National League pennant, the Los Angeles Dodgers increased the frequency of their social media posts by 85 percent, with the majority of that content going on Twitter. That increase in volume, combined with the team’s run to another World Series, resulted in a major spike in their social media value – an increase of $77 million year over year. That spike was second only to their SoCal neighbors in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, who saw the largest increase in social value of any team in any of the five leagues ranked.
Adding Star Power Adds Value
Speaking of the Lakers, this year’s rankings are starting to show the impact of LeBron James going to Hollywood. At the beginning of 2018, the Lakers already had more social followers than any other NBA team with 34 million, but the team added an additional 3 million with the addition of the league’s top player. Not only have they added followers, but the Lakers have also capitalized on James’ social popularity to drive up engagement (up 69 percent vs. 2017) and, more importantly, to increase their social value by 36 percent (or $78 million).
In the world of MLS, call it the “Zlatan Effect.” (Zlatan Ibrahimović joined the L.A. Galaxy in March 2018.) Despite posting nearly 50 percent less on social media in 2018 than in 2017, the Galaxy generated 87 percent more engagements and 4 percent more social value (nearly $1 million) this year. It’s not a coincidence that nine of the team’s Top 10 most engaging posts of 2018 featured Ibrahimović in a photo or mentioned him in the post.
New Franchises Make an Early Impact
After an inaugural season that saw the Vegas Golden Knights make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, the team also had a remarkable year in social media for an organization that didn’t officially exist before March 2017. The Knights finished first in the NHL in engagement rate (0.67%), second in total engagements (34.2 million), and eighth in social value ($37 million) despite ranking 23rd in the NHL in total social followers. They may have been few, but the Knights fans were mighty.
In many ways, the Atlanta United are similar to the Golden Knights. Both franchises played their first game in 2017, and both have quickly moved near the top of their respective leagues in on-the-field (or ice) competition, as well as on social. But the United took it to the next level, winning the MLS Cup and crushing it on social. In 2018, the United were No. 1 in the league in social value and No. 2 in both total engagements (18 million) and engagement rate (0.79%). Year-over-year, the team increased engagement by 61 percent and more than doubled their social value to $27 million.
Teams Returning to Prominence
After missing the playoffs for the previous four seasons, the Atlanta Braves returned to the postseason in 2018, which helped fuel the team’s performance on social. The Braves posted slightly less in 2018 than in 2017, but generated 64 percent more engagement and 31 percent more social value than they did the previous year.
Similarly, the Colorado Avalanche returned to the playoffs in 2018 after missing the cut the three previous seasons. The team posted significantly more (up 82 percent) in 2018 than in 2017. That, plus the team’s on-ice success, has resulted in greatly improved social performance: the Avalanche boosted engagement by 61 percent and added 94 more social value this year.
Since its founding, MVPindex has become the de facto social media measurement and valuation platform in sports and entertainment. MVPindex measures audience engagement and values sponsorship activations for nearly 100,000 popular and niche social accounts across hundreds of millions of social posts. In 2018, MVPindex unveiled MVPaudience (powered by Umbel) as the standard for activating, understanding and reaching audiences, amassing 10 billion data points on more than 50 million fans. MVPindex works with 100-plus brands, properties and agencies including adidas, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Endeavor, NASCAR, Oakley, Front Gate Tickets and numerous professional sports teams across all major leagues.
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