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NFL Fans Generate Online Buzz in Run-up to the Football Season
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NFL Fans Generate Online Buzz in Run-up to the Football Season

As NFL fans gear up for the season ahead and prepare the rosters for their fantasy football teams, they head online for news and buzz about their favorite teams and players.

Among NFL teams, the NY Jets generated the most online buzz during the off-season from blogs, message boards/groups, Twitter, Facebook, and online news posts. “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys continue to generate national interest in online discussions, although they were topped by their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, who led NFC teams and were second in overall pre-season buzz. The NY Giants, and their regional rival, the New England Patriots, round out the top five teams with the most pre-season buzz.

Pre-season buzz about NFL Teams
Rank NFL Team Share of Total NFL Team Buzz
1 New York Jets 11.9%
2 Philadelphia Eagles 8.3%
3 New York Giants 6.0%
4 Dallas Cowboys 5.9%
5 New England Patriots 4.3%
Read as: The NY Jets had the most buzz among all NFL teams during the pre-season.

Source: Nielsen, July 31 – August 6

An abbreviated off-season due to the NFL lockout sparked a flurry of free-agent signings and trades of popular players, and generated considerable online buzz among sports fans.  Looking at players who have changed teams ahead of the 2011 season, Reggie Bush received the most buzz during the off-season with 194k mentions. Comparing buzz about NFL players who joined new teams through free-agency or trade in recent weeks, Plaxico Burress led this group of players with more than 13k mentions during the week of July 31 – August 6, followed by Reggie Bush, Nnamdi Asomugha, Chad Ochocinco, and Donovan McNabb.

One in four active web users in the US visited sites in the Sports category, which amounts to 42.5 million Americans during the most recent week (ending July 31).  Compared to weeks during the off-season, the NFL’s network of sites more than doubled their audience, a 258 percent increase in unique US visitors during the first full week after the NFL lockout ended.

Top Sports Sites During Week of July 31
Rank Website Unique Audience (000)
1 Yahoo! Sports 14,859
2 ESPN Digital Network 9,515
3 FOXSports.com on MSN 7,419
4 NFL Internet Network 4,923
5 MLB.com 4,906
Read as: Yahoo! Sports had 14.9 million unique US visitors during the week ending July 31, about 8.9% of active web users during the week from Home/Work PCs and laptop computers.

Source: Nielsen, July 25 – July 31, 2011

As US sports fans go online for the latest news and stats, Yahoo’s network of sports sites was their top destination during the week of July 31. ESPN.com and FoxSports.com websites were also popular destinations for US sports fans in this most recent week. Historically the months of August and September are the busiest for sports sites, so this may provide another preview of the season to come!