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Super Bowl Breakdown: How the Fans and Teams of 2017’s Big Game Differ

3 minute read | February 2017

One team is a modern-day football dynasty. The other hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in nearly two decades. You could say the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons are polar opposites going into Super Bowl LI. Nielsen data shows that their fans are distinct as well.

According to Nielsen Scarborough data, 64% of the Boston area population has watched, attended or listened to a New England Patriots game while just under half (48%) of the Atlanta population would be considered Falcons fans. The Patriots rank higher than the Falcons overall in national fan base size according to Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink, but the Falcons’ ranking has risen two positions from 2015.

The Falcons’ fan base is highly concentrated in the South (74%) while the Patriots’ fan base is more evenly distributed with 43% in the Northeast and 33% in the South.

Falcons fans are more likely to be younger homeowners (aged 18-34) who are married with children, compared to Patriots fans. The Patriots have a greater percent of female fans (46%) than Falcons fans (42%).

Drinking and Dining Divide

When choosing an adult beverage, Atlanta Falcons fans reach for a beer as their first choice, while New England Patriots fans are content to sip on a glass of wine. Fans of both teams enjoy ordering pizza, but Falcons fans are more likely to buy and bake frozen pizzas than Patriots fans. Nearly half of Patriots fans say they had Chinese food from a restaurant during a month, while Falcons fans are more than twice as likely as a Patriots fans to have gone out for Mexican food.

Quarterback Comparison

The Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan is a leading contender for the NFL Most Valuable Player award this year, but he is still relatively unknown to the general public. According to Nielsen’s Talent Analytics Tool, Ryan has an N-Score of 62 and awareness score of 32, falling right into the average for football players.

Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is the most well-known current football player with an awareness score of 73, compared with the football average of 30. However, Brady is a polarizing figure. His N-Score is 70 with likability and other character traits taken into account, but with a likability score of 48, Brady actually falls into the bottom 5% of all celebrities for likability. Ryan’s likability score is higher, around the average, at 58.

Brady is more popular among women than Ryan. Brady’s fan base is 36% female while Ryan’s is 30%. If the quarterback contest were a beauty pageant, Brady would outscore Ryan. Brady scores 31 in the “good looking” attribute, while the NFL average, and Ryan’s score, is 18. If the trophy were awarded based on dependability, the victory would go to Ryan with a dependability score of 40, compared with Brady’s dependability score of 31.  


The insights in this article were derived from Nielsen Scarborough Local Markets Release 2 2016, Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink 2016, and Nielsen N-Score Talent Tracker.

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