The New York Times released an interactive map earlier this week that plots NBA rooting interests at the zip code-level based on Facebook “likes.” You may recall the Times’ attempt to map the dividing lines of various baseball rivalries in April.
Like the baseball maps, these were created using estimates of team support based on each team’s share of Facebook “likes” in a ZIP code (or census division in Canada). We then applied an algorithm to deal with statistical noisiness and to fill in gaps where data was missing.
Facebook “likes” are an imperfect measure. In the Los Angeles area, the Lakers have about eight times as many “likes” as the Clippers. But Facebook’s ad data, which combines “likes” with users’ “interests and activities,” suggests the Lakers have only about three times as many users interested in them as the Clippers do. But as we’ve noted before, Facebook likes show broadly similar patterns as polls do.
As a Wizards fan, the first thing that stands out about the map is that fellow Wizards fans don’t like using Facebook’s “like” function. Or, there just aren’t that many of us in the area.
The zip code with the highest percentage of Wizards Facebook “likes” is 20817 in Montgomery County, which includes parts of Bethesda and Potomac. There are several zip codes with 23% “likes”, including neighboring 20816 (Bethesda) and a few near Verizon Center, but most of the area is below 20%. You don’t have to go far to find zip codes where the Wizards aren’t even the most-“liked” team.
In Landover, which was home to the Bullets until 1997, Lakers “likes” outnumber Wizards “likes” 21% to 18%. The same is true in parts of Alexandria, Silver Spring, Annandale and Reston. In parts of Bowie, the Lakers and Heat are more “liked” than the Wizards.
The info here seems daunting to some and it is all based on click streams and demographics. Clicks are not a true ultimate indicator of interest and success. Time spent and dollars invested are a much more relevant indicator. And of course, games and playoff games won is the most important indicator of success to a community. We all believe that as fact.
Here’s a look at how the Wizards compare to the rest of the NBA in terms of the percentage of Facebook “likes” from users within the zip code of their home arena. Indeed, many of the teams at the bottom of the chart (those with the greatest percentage of Facebook “likes”) have enjoyed recent playoff success, which supports Ted’s point.
More from Ted’s Take:
We basically lost a generation of fans and now have to create the next generation of fans. That is a part of the rebuild plan as well for our franchise.
And the DMV is the best and fastest growing community in North America. So if we can build a winner and be smart about how we market and create a legacy and tradition – and the team performs well – we will change the color coding on this map quickly. I am confident in the plan and that we can get real heat into these maps in the future.
More heat. Less Heat. Explore the full interactive NBA map here.