A Season Of Social To Predict A Super Bowl Champion

Super Bowl XLIXThis weekend is Super Bowl XLIX. The New England Patriots are squaring off against the Seattle Seahawks to find out which NFL team reigns supreme this year.

As we do with other sports, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the social media buzz around each of the teams using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, over the course of their season. Usually we would look at the buzz around the teams from the start of the season up until today. However, due a little controversy surrounding one of the playoff games from this season (you may have heard of something called “deflategate” going around) we thought that one team would for sure get an unfair advantage in terms of mention volume, while the other team would get one because of the negativity around their opponent. So, for the analysis below we only looked at the regular NFL season which ran between September 4 to December 28, 2014.

We searched for both teams names, nicknames and Twitter handles over the course of the season and found a staggering difference in the amount of social conversations around each team. In terms of overall mentions, the Patriots were in 7,177,831 social conversations over the season. The Seahawks, however, were only part of 4,285,927 social conversations.

Sysomos MAP - Compare Overall Mentions

Even when we broke it down to look at the mentions over individual channels, the Patriots always came out on top. The Seahawks got beat out in mentions across blogs, online news, forums and tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Compare By Source

It becomes more evident when we look at the mentions of both teams plotted out over time. A look at our popularity chart gives a good visualization of just how much more the Patriots were talked about than the Seahawks. Especially on game days, which are all the spikes in conversation you see below.

Sysomos MAP - Comparison Popularity Chart

When we pulled up the sentiment around the two Super Bowl combatants we once again found that the Seahawks had come up short compared to the Patriots. The talk around the Seahawks was only 27% positive while also being 30% negative. In the meantime, the talk around the Patriots was 47% positive and only 19% negative.

Sysomos MAP - Sentiment Comparison

If social media talk could predict a Super Bowl winner, it’s probably safe to say that New England Patriots are guaranteed a win on Sunday. However, fan popularity doesn’t win games, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Who do you think’s going to win?

Just for fun, we also wanted to compare the two teams on Twitter to see how the stats swayed so far in  the Patriots favour since Twitter saw the most action. When we compared the fan bases of the two teams we found something interesting about the loyalty of football fans. The Seahawks have 797,000 followers while the Patriots have 1.1 million and out of all those fans, only 9.7 of them overlap. When people have a team, they only care about what’s going on with that team.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Follower Comparison

While that’s not a huge revolution, it does also help to explain this next piece of data we found that probably explains how the Patriots got so far ahead.

When we compared where people were tweeting about the Patriots and the Seahawks from, we found that New England has a very spread out fan base, while Seattle’s is more local. Looking at the states where mentions of the teams were coming from, you can see that Seahawk tweets were coming the most from Washington State, which makes sense. But when you look at where mentions of the Patriots were coming from, Massachusetts only makes up some of the tweets, while their “other” bar on the chart is through the roof, meaning that Patriots have fans spread out much more across the US than the Seahawks did.

Sysomos MAP - US States Tweets Comparison

So, in case you missed it above, the Patriots are obviously a more popular team. But again, popularity doesn’t necessarily win Super Bowls…

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