NEW YORK: 16 Aug. 2016 — Major League Soccer teams rank no lower than second in each of America’s four largest markets included in the inaugural J.D. Power 2016 Fan Experience Study,SM released today. The New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire rank highest in their respective markets while the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo rank second in theirs.
The Fan Experience Study measures customer satisfaction of major pro sports teams in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston across seven factors. They are (in order of importance): seating area and game experience; security and ushers; leaving the game; arriving at the game; food and beverage; ticket purchase; and souvenirs and merchandise. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale. Additional factors that were measured—but not included in the official ranking—were loyalty and future intentions; team performance (on-field); and team image.
The Red Bulls score highest among New York teams for security and ushers (835); seating area and game experience (833); ticket purchase (819); food and beverage (795); and leaving the game (791). The Chicago Fire score highest among Chicago teams for souvenirs and merchandise (875); security and ushers (838); ticket purchase (795); food and beverage (783); and leaving the game (758).
In the Los Angeles region, it is a National Hockey League team that ranks highest: the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks eclipse their sun-drenched brethren in souvenirs and merchandise (862); seating area and game experience (841); security and ushers (834); and arrival at the game (795).
The Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association rank highest in their region thanks to leading scores for seating area and game experience (848); souvenirs and merchandise (836); security and ushers (826); leaving the game (783); and food and beverage (777).
“Because media rights will soon exceed gate revenue in major pro sports leagues, fan experience is at risk of becoming an afterthought,” said Greg Truex, senior director at J.D. Power. “We know the food tastes a little better and drinks taste a little colder when the home team is winning, but we stripped away fan emotion and evaluated which teams excel in providing fans the best at-game experience, regardless of the final score.”
While the MLS’ Galaxy and Dynamo rank second in their respective regions, the Galaxy scores highest in ticket purchase (830) among L.A. teams and the Dynamo scores highest in arrival at the game (791) and ticket purchase (807) among Houston teams.
“It’s clear that forward-looking teams, like those in MLS, are harnessing their opportunity to create positive fan experiences across the full spectrum of touch points and are, in turn, shifting share of wallet,” said Truex. “Teams that add value by incorporating the voice of the fan into their decision-making process can command greater income for sponsorships and media rights.”
The study’s respondents also were asked to identify the Face of Professional Sports in their region. Carefully developed questions ask respondents to identify up to five players who best represent the Face of Professional Sports. Respondents were then asked to rank these players on a scale of 1 through 5. Each rank 1 through 5 was calculated by J.D. Power and the overall Face of Professional Sports score was calculated.
Key Findings by Market
- The Windy City’s On Fire: The Chicago Fire is the highest-ranking Chicago franchise, a notable achievement given the long history and strong fan bases of other Chicago franchises. The Chicago Bulls are second in the region.
- Da Bears Are Da Worst: The Chicago Bears rank lowest in the market. The late George Halas—nicknamed Papa Bear—was not a man who liked to see his team lose. At anything.
- Toews Commands Respect: The Face of Professional Sports in the Chicago market is seven-time NHL All-Star Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. Toews, who is entering his ninth season as captain of the Blackhawks, has helped bring three Stanley Cups to the city.
- Liftoff: The Houston Rockets are the highest-ranking Houston franchise, perhaps an unexpected result in a state dominated by football and baseball.
- Clutch City: Founded in 2006, the Houston Dynamo is the newest of the pro sports teams in this port city, but ranks second in fan satisfaction. The Dynamo, which won MLS Cup in its first two years of existence, is the most recent team to bring a championship to Houston.
- One Watt Packs A Lot Of Power: J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is the Face of Professional Sports in the Houston market, as the four-time All-Pro is the most popular athlete in the region by far. The Rockets’ James Harden ranks second.
- Ducks—Not Kings—Reign in Southern California: The Anaheim Ducks rank highest in the Los Angeles region in fan experience, with the L.A. Galaxy ranking second. In a blow to the national pastime, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rank fourth and the Dodgers rank lowest.
- L.A. Values Legacy Over Recent Dominance: L.A. sports fans are more enamored by Kobe Bryant and the five NBA titles he brought to Staples Center than the recent run of pitching dominance by three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, as fans rank the recently retired Bryant as the Face of Professional Sports in the L.A. market.
- L.A. Quickly Re-Embraces Rams: The first major pro sports team located west of the Mississippi River was the Los Angeles Rams. That happened in 1946. Though the Rams haven’t played a game in Los Angeles since 1994, the city now celebrates the return of its team and its young stars. Todd Gurley (12th), Case Keenum (17th) and Tavon Austin (18th) earn respectable rankings among the athletes in the city—and have yet to play a game there.
- Red Bulls Followed By Nets: While the Red Bulls sit atop the New York rankings, the Brooklyn Nets rank second in the market. Interestingly, the New York Islanders, who share Barclays Center with the Nets and are run by the same business operations team, rank fifth in the market.
- Mets Not So Amazin’: The Mets’ highest ranking in the New York region is sixth for ticket purchase. All other factors rank below average, so it’s not a surprise the reigning National League champions rank lowest in fan satisfaction.
- OBJ Rising But The Quarterback Is King: Odell Beckham, Jr., is one of the NFL’s fastest-rising stars, but he’s not king of New York yet. That distinction belongs to two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who is the Face of Professional Sports in the New York region. The Mets’ David Wright, despite chronic health problems stemming from his spinal stenosis, ranks second in Gotham.
About the Study
The 2016 Fan Experience Study is more comprehensive and representative of measuring the fan experience than internal team surveys since it is not limited to season ticket holders and single-game ticket buyers. Instead, the study significantly broadens the population to include not only the aforementioned fans, but also secondary-market ticket buyers and friends as well as relatives and colleagues who did not buy a ticket but attended with someone who did.
The 2016 Fan Experience Study is based on more than 5,700 completed survey instruments from sports fans who attended a National Football League®, Major League Baseball®, National Hockey League®, Major League Soccer® or National Basketball Association® event in the past 12 months in the New York, Los Angeles, Houston or Chicago designated market areas. The study was fielded in June 2016.
The Los Angeles market includes the San Diego Padres and San Diego Chargers, but those teams were not ranked in the study. The Rams also were included in this market, but will not be ranked until the 2017 study is released. The New York City Football Club did not have enough sample size to be included in this year’s study but is expected to be included in the 2017 study.
The 2017 study will include these additional markets: San Francisco/Oakland, Denver, Detroit, Boston, Washington D.C./Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia and Miami.
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