Based on data to date: Biggest Australian sports fandom

This entry was posted by Laura on Saturday, 9 January, 2010 at

The following chart is based on the data gathered for posts to date.  It is intended to give a general idea as to the comparative size of various sports fandom communities to each other.  Blanks indicate that no data regarding that team on the service has been gathered; it does not indicate a size of zero for that particularly service.  If you would like specific data regarding a team on a service to understand where that number of coming from, please comment or e-mail me at laura[at]fanhistory[dot]com.  I am more than happy to explain it.

Leagues with teams at the bottom include AFL, AHL, A-League, Claxton Shield, Gridiron Australia Nationals, KFC Twenty20 Big Bash, NBL, Rugby League/State of Origin, Victorian Amateur Football Association.  The AFL’s expansion team puts one of their teams in the bottom 10.  Soccer teams, baseball teams, American/Gridiron football, basketball, netball, rugby union, ice hockey, rugby league and Australian rules football are at the bottom.  Some of these sports can be accounted for because of they are not popular sports in the country.  Others can be accounted for because the teams are part of secondary leagues and competitions.  It will be interesting to see how and if popularity shifts as more data is added from additional networks.

Edited to add: This post mostly came about as I needed to take a break from gathering Yahoo!Groups data.  The directory currently is not working for me.  It limits my ability to data gather as a result.  Two of the big things in terms of moving a team up or down the above list are Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook has a lot of voids and that’s easy enough to fill in.  I did that.  Things at the bottom didn’t change much but things at the top really did change with four clubs above the 40,000 fans threshold.

Given the huge leaps there, I cannot really foresee the top order changing much, especially as the Twitter data is already there. The other social networks out there just do not have populations to provide an audience that size. Facebook claims that 7,680,420 people are from Australia on its service. When 50,000 list their interest as the Magpies or the Blues, well, that’s .6% of all Australians on Facebook. Or put another way, 3 out of every 500 Australians on the site list one of those two teams as an interest. For a sports team, that seems really high and about on par for the most popular sports team in other countries. (The New York Yankees have about 785,000 fans for an American population of about 101,468,000 on Facebook. That puts the percentage at about .7%.)

Yahoo!Groups doesn’t have a large population. While bebo is popular in Australia, it doesn’t provide numbers even close to this. The only way to get numbers that large are to find community specific sites which require registration.

More edited to add: One of the things I did not realize with the various data sets I’ve been compiling is that about a third of the teams in the National Rugby League aren’t included. My bad. Most of my focus has been on the AFL. Hence, the oversight. I’ve compiled that again and rather than update with a third image, just going to say that there have been no major shake ups. The Brisbane Broncos remain on thop. The St. George Dragons are at the bottom with 240 fans. Second to last are the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with 1,580. No team really has the big number of fans that the AFL has.

More editing: I normally tried variations of a team’s name for Facebook to make sure I get the highest number.  In the case of St. George Illawarra Dragons, I goofed and got the one that listed 240.  When I used St Geoergillawarra Dragons combed with St. George Illawarra Dragons, I got 9,200.  This change will show up in any future data analysis.  The collection date has always been changed to today just so I know when I got that number.

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  • Adelaide Dupont

    Wow, that's actually a lot of Carlton/Collingwood supporters on Facebook, and probably a 10th of their memberships in real life (assuming they were all taken out this year).

    And Perth Heat is probably one of the most popular baseball teams in Australia, at least as far as the Claxton Shield era. (I didn't see the Victoria Aces mentioned).

    Ice hockey does have a minor popularity/interest in Australia. It has done that since at least 1996. I suspected The Mighty Ducks and its sequels.

  • Adelaide Dupont

    And with Carlton-Collingwood, it doesn't seem to matter where those teams are on the ladder, whereas with the rugby teams, it does, except for the Brisbane Broncos, who are going to get a large audience anyway.

    (And a third of the rugby teams does include the Melbourne Storm). Roughly how many Facebook followers and Twitter followers? I was able to find out the former, or at least surmise. 19,862 Facebook followers for the Storm site. Which is between the Eels and the Wests Tigers.

    And AppData is telling me some interesting things.

  • LauraH

    I would assume that they have a fair number of fans who aren't members who are fans who just tune in for games on television, etc. But yeah, the Facebook numbers were a bit surprising at over 40,000. When I was in Australia, I was told that the AFL wasn't as strong in New South Wales and Queensland, that the NRL dominated. Online, that isn't the impression that I'm left with at all.

    I haven't really looked for Claxton Shield related teams beyond the Perth Heat. They cropped up when I was looking for sports teams from Perth for Facebook and on Twitter. I'm kind of just randomly pulling things from all over so not all teams from all leagues are getting represented as I compile data.

    What I did kind of find surprising, and it wasn't but should have been included, was the netball teams. Outside of the netball teams on that list, none had any other people listing those teams as interests on Facebook. (I haven't looked at those teams on other networks.) I was under the impression that netball was a lot bigger. I'm just wondering if this is because possibly female sports teams aren't as big in Australia? The US professional women's leagues needed a lot of institutional support and being resurrected from the ashes. And our markets tend to be much bigger. Chicago metro has about 8 million people and the Chicago Sky appear to be barely holding on.)

    As more teams are added and more networks are added, it will be interesting to see how things shake out. There are a lot of teams missing. (While I'm waiting for Yahoo!Groups to behave, I'm trying to get the LJ clone and Facebook data for NRL teams.)

    Babbling. It is just interesting to look at. It also makes me curious about companies like doing demographic research about fans… because they are giving demographic information for sites that isn't publicly accessible. (LiveJournal does NOT give gender. Lots of Facebook data is locked out unless you are the admin of a fan page or are friends with some one.)

  • Adelaide Dupont

    There are 2 Melbourne teams in netball. Or rather there were until very recently. They were the Phoenix and the Kestrels.

    The team is now the Melbourne Vixens, and the netball is interesting, because there is a New Zealand team, like there is in soccer (Wellington).

    Perhaps female teams aren't that big, but what about softball?

    I would be very curious about rapleaf too.

    (For Australia demographics in general, Roy Morgan is your friend. They generally do have publicly accessible information. So is the Australian Bureau of Statistics, especially for activities of recreational and sports).

    Netball is a lot bigger, especially at the participatory level. It would be one of the most frequent sports played by women. Especially for state and country.

  • LauraH

    Have never tried AppData. The thing with some social networking sites is there are often more than one way of measuring things. For LiveJournal, you can do community membership or interest listings. I've done interest listing because there aren't communities comparable to Twilight. Facebook, you can use app data, fan page membership or interests. I've just been using interests because I can get that easily from and I don't have to worry about competing applications or fanpages. (And getting data out of fanpages isn't easy as I understand it. You need the owner to give it to you. I could be wrong about that though.) is the updated stats I have for Facebook with the full NRL listings. I haven't gotten Twitter data yet because I haven't gone to look at that and I like to run the country demographics from the one Twitter tool at the same time. 17,020 is what I got for the Melbourne Storm from the Facebook ad listing. I have the Eels at 21,400 and the Roosters at 10,660.

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