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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Sports on Twitter: NBA trumps NFL for most followers

So many factors can go into a pro sports team building a strong following on Twitter -- obviously it starts with the national popularity of the team and the size of its market, but a team's, and even a league's,Twitter presence can also play a big role in creating a large base of fans online.

It doesn't follow always the same national trends as national TV ratings or even team attendance, and the results can be surprising, both from league to league and within our Tampa Bay market.

We looked at the Twitter followings for 122 pro teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, as well as the main official accounts for all four leagues, and the NBA is a clear winner: add up all the official team accounts, and the NBA has a combined 33.1-million followers, compared to 28.5-million for the NFL, 18.8-million for MLB and 15.9-million for the NHL. The order is the same for the followings on official league accounts -- the NBA has 21.6-million followers, the NFL 19.0-million, MLB 5.8-million and NHL 4.7-million.

Team accounts with at least 1-million followers? The NBA and NHL have 11 teams each with over a million, while MLB has five and NHL has three. If you rank the pro teams with the biggest followings, the NBA has the top three (Lakers, with 4.82-million, Heat with 3.35-million and Bulls with 2.60-million) and five of the top 10, with the NFL (led by the Patriots at 2.41-million) getting three teams, the MLB just the Yankees (9th) and the NHL none.

A tradition of success can far outweight recent success -- the Lakers had the second-worst record in the NBA, so their following better reflects their history of 16 NBA titles; the Yankees have just one title in the last 15 years, but their following speaks more to their 27 championships. The Maple Leafs haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967, but their history gives them the NHL's second-largest following, behind only the Blackhawks, who have three titles in the past six seasons.

Where do our local teams rank? The Bucs have the largest following at roughly 422,000 followers, but that ranks 29th of 32 NFL teams; by comparison, the Lightning, with roughly 379,000 followers, rank 18th out of 30 NHL team accounts; the Rays have roughly 321,000 followers to rank 26th out of 30 MLB team accounts.

Measure those same teams' followings compared to their attendance, and you could see the Rays as the success story, as they rank 29th in MLB attendance, compared to the Bucs ranking 26th in NFL attendance and the Lightning a solid eighth in average NHL attendance.

Miami represents both ends of the spectrum -- the Heat, thanks largely to LeBron James and his 31-million followers, have the second-largest following of any pro team, while the Marlins have the smallest following of the 122 teams with just 198,000 followers. The Magic, despite missing the playoffs four years in a row and having no titles, still have the NBA's seventh-largest following.

Here are a few top 10s -- and a bottom 10 -- with links to all team accounts ...


1. Lakers (NBA): 4.82-million

2. Heat (NBA): 3.35-million

3. Bulls (NBA): 2.60-million

4. Patriots (NFL): 2.41-million

5. Celtics (NBA): 1.86-million

6. Broncos (NFL): 1.74-million

7. Cowboys (NFL): 1.71-million

8. Warriors (NBA): 1.69-million

9. Yankees (MLB): 1.65-million

10. Panthers (NFL): 1.44-million


1. Patriots: 2.41-million

2. Broncos: 1.74-million

3. Cowboys: 1.71-million

4. Panthers: 1.44-million

5. Seahawks: 1.31-million

6. Packers: 1.28-million

7. Steelers: 1.28-million

8. 49ers: 1.21-million

9. Eagles: 1.08-million

10. Giants: 1.04-million

29. Bucs: 422,000


1. Lakers: 4.82-million

2. Heat: 3.35-million

3. Bulls: 2.60-million

4. Celtics: 1.86-million

5. Warriors: 1.69-million

6. Knicks: 1.39-million

7. Magic: 1.34-million

8. Thunder: 1.29-million

9. Spurs: 1.28-million

10. Cavaliers: 1.14-million


1. Yankees: 1.65-million

2. Blue Jays: 1.38-million

3. Red Sox: 1.27-million

4. Phillies: 1.16-million

5. Giants: 1.03-million

6. Dodgers: 957,000

7. Cubs: 861,000

8. Tigers: 853,000

9. Cardinals: 808,000

10. Braves: 770,000

26. Rays: 321,000


1. Blackhawks: 1.32-million

2. Maple Leafs: 1.23-million

3. Canadiens: 1.09-million

4. Bruins: 914,000

5. Penguins: 809,000

6. Canucks: 789,000

7. Red Wings: 770,000

8. Kings: 751,000

9. Rangers: 668,000

10. Flyers: 636,000

18. Lightning: 379,000


10. Diamondbacks (MLB): 282,000

9. Islanders (NHL): 281,000

8. Blue Jackets (NHL): 280,000

7. Predators (NHL): 277,000

6. Rockies (MLB): 251,000

5. Padres (MLB): 235,000

4. Panthers (NHL): 221,000

3. Hurricanes (NHL): 215,000

2. Coyotes (NHL): 213,000

1. Marlins (MLB): 198,000

[Last modified: Monday, May 16, 2016 1:41pm]


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