Study: Cardinals have most bandwagon fans in NFL; worst in social media following

TEMPE, Ariz. – Fans of the Arizona Cardinals have really turned University of Phoenix Stadium into a chamber of horrors for opposing teams. Since Bruce Arians took over as head coach, the Cardinals are 13-3 at home, with the only losses being to the Seattle Seahawks (twice) and the San Francisco 49ers.

Arizona’s sold out every home game since the stadium opened back in 2006. It’s an incredible stadium to be in, and a fantastic atmosphere when the Red Sea gets loud, but, according to a recent study, a lot of Cardinals fans are very wishy-washy.

Emory University did a “2014 NFL Fan Quality Analysis,” and their study concluded that the Cardinals have the most bandwagon fans in the NFL. The study – which was compiled of numbers between 2001-2013 – says that Cardinals fans “are most responsive to winning percentage in the NFL based on our statistical model of attendance.”

According to, the Cardinals were 26th in the NFL in average home attendance last season, with an average of 61,979 fans attending those games.

The Cardinals were No. 1, followed by the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns.

The study noted how hard it was to determine which teams had bandwagon fans and which ones didn’t, saying “the issue is that many teams sell-out regardless of the team’s performance,” – i.e. the Cardinals, who’ve never lacked for fans on game day at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The study also put the Cardinals at the bottom of their “Social Media Equity” rankings. These rankings were measured “based on an analysis of how strong each team’s social media following is after controlling for team quality and market characteristics.” The Pittsburgh Steelers took the top spot in these rankings.

The study noted how close the Cardinals (191k) and Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleaders (103k) are in Twitter followers.

The study was quick to point out that “there are limitations to this metric, especially related to the choice of social media platforms and the “engagement” of followers.”

At least the study didn’t put the Cardinals at the bottom of the teams when it came to fan equity – it had Arizona ranked 19th. Fan equity is measured “based on fans willingness to financially support their team.” The rankings were based on the average Fan Equity score for the last three years. The Cowboys have been No. 1 in this metric for the past five years.


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