The data science people at Facebook have provided the sports betting public with yet another dimension for the Super Bowl. Correlating the information, the social network provides some new statistics on NFL fans. Unlike YouWager’s NFL football betting fans, the fans that Facebook profiled show a tendency to hop from one bandwagon to another. And there is one major bandwagon that most of these fans are hoping on- the San Francisco 49ers.
Drawing on a comprehensive sampling of sports fans all over the U.S, Sean Taylor, a data-science specialist at Facebook studied the patterns in the scores of fans that have ‘liked’ the Facebook pages of NFL teams. This includes, of course, the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. Nearly 35 million Facebook friends, that’s more than one out of every 10 Americans, have indicated their support for at least one team.
Research shows that the more a team wins, the more ‘likes’ it gets. And when a team wins in the playoffs, it gets even more. One playoff win brings twice as many ‘likes’ as a loss in the playoffs.
Casual fans, unlike YouWager’s dedicated football bettors, are also quite fickle. Many Facebook users only dare to make their affection for a team official when the team is gaining praise all over the country.
Breaking down the support for each of the 32 teams in the NFL, some of the patterns are entirely predictable. The people of Houston like the Texans, Tennesseans support the Titans, Miami likes the Dolphins, etc.
But the love for some teams transcends the regions where they play. The Pittsburgh Steelers attract fans as far away as Oregon, Nevada, Alabama, and Alaska, and this fandom also includes most of Hawaii.
Facebook turned their findings into a map, color-coded to show the support indicated for the teams. If red is the color of San Francisco, then the map is mostly red, with a small pocket of support for the Ravens, on the East coast. This big countrywide show of support for the 49ers may have something to do with the fact that the major online sportsbooks have San Fran as a favorite to win the Super Bowl. At YouWager, the 49ers are posted as 3.5 favorites.
An NFL analyst at YouWager suggests another reason: Age. The 49ers franchise has been around a lot longer than the Ravens, and they have been in the public eye a lot more. Popular stars like Jerry Rice made the team’s popularity a national affair. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the youngest teams in the league. Their first NFL season was in 1996.
When the Ravens face the 49ers for the NFL Championship, they will be 3.5 underdogs at YouWager. The total is 47.5. Game time on Sunday is 6:30PM Eastern.