Even as much of the country rallied around the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints last year, it seems that the Dallas Cowboys are still America's team.
According to The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index, which measures media exposure on TV and online, the Cowboys were still the most popular NFL team in America last season. Jerry Jones's franchise earned the top indexed score of 100, far surpassing the runner-up Pittsburgh Steelers who finished with an index of 81.
The Cowboys' top ranking was boosted by first-place showings in two of the four categories tallied by Nielsen: gross audience during nationally televised games and monthly unique audience to the team web site. The other two categories - local team ratings and total buzz volume - were captured by the Saints and New York Giants, respectively.
|NIELSEN'S NFL MEDIA EXPOSURE RANKINGS|
|RANK||TEAM||LOCAL TV RANK||NATIONAL TV RANK||WEBSITE/UNIQUE AUDIENCE RANK||ONLINE BUZZ VOLUME RANK||OVERALL INDEX|
|3||New York Giants||30||4||6||1||70|
|4 (t)||Chicago Bears||16||6||3||5||67|
|4 (t)||Green Bay Packers||5||3||7||11||67|
|4 (t)||Minnesota Vikings||4||5||9||12||67|
|8 (t)||Indianapolis Colts||6||7||8||14||62|
|8 (t)||New Orleans Saints||1||13||13||10||62|
|10||New England Patriots||14||10||5||13||58|
|Source: The Nielsen Company|
Note: Time period of data reflects the 2009-10 NFL regular season
Dallas has held the top two spots in each of the last two years. The Steelers moved up from third to second, swapping places with the Giants. The Minnesota Vikings, aided no doubt by the presence and performance of legendary QB Brett Favre, climbed from 13th place in 2008 to a tie for 4th in the 2009 regular season ranking. The Washington Redskins, meanwhile, dropped from 5th in 2008 to 11th in 2009.
NFC teams dominated the 2009 rankings. Seven of the top 10 teams represented the conference, while the Steelers, Colts (t-8th) and Patriots (10th) were the only three AFC teams to crack the top third of the list.
Among the two New York teams, the Giants had the most media exposure, ranking 15 spots ahead of the Jets. And even despite drawing 38% lower local market ratings than their Bay Area rivals, the Oakland Raiders were the most popular national brand out of Northern California, ranking two spots ahead of the San Francisco 49ers (25th vs. 27th).
The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index measured all 32 NFL teams in four categories during the 2009 regular season: local team ratings, gross national TV audience, online buzz volume, and monthly unique audiences to official team websites. Teams in each category were assigned a score, with the top rank worth 100 points and each subsequent ranking assigned a lower weighted score based its distance from the top. Final team rankings were calculated using the sum of scores across all four categories, and then indexed with the highest total equaling 100.
Nielsen's NFL Media Exposure Index was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.