Data: The Most Powerful Athlete-driven Leagues of 2018

EOYReport_Leagues2018
As we’ve perennially witnessed for the past decade, 2018 was another year in which athletes stepped further into the social spotlight. Fans go wild for athlete-driven content and today’s media landscape allows players to access their audiences through an authentic approach that generates unmatched engagement. In the social media era, fans no longer depend on traditional outlets to consume the latest sports content and athletes no longer rely on those same outlets as their only platform to reach fans.
The capability athletes possess to drive conversations beyond the sports arena is undeniable. In the past, we’ve analyzed how they stack up amongst one another within individual leagues on social. In this report, we provide a wider perspective of the sports ecosystem by breaking down athletes’ social performance from eight of the leading sports leagues in the United States.
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@dangerusswilson ? @patrickmahomes5 #KCvsSEA?: @rkangphoto/NFL

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Though natural outliers exist in each league, these breakdowns offer a glimpse at the athletes’ level of fame, as well as how they’ve performed in activity, engagement, and growth throughout the past year. With over 721 million followers on social, the NBA comfortably led all leagues in audience size, while the NFL narrowly held onto second place ahead of the up-and-coming social media powerhouse, Major League Soccer. There’s no denying the athlete-driven capabilities of the NHL, who boasts the highest collective engagement rate of any league on social. However, they also carry the lowest activity rate — a clear sign of untapped potential.
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The King officially hung up his boots, but we’ll always remember his time in MLS. All the best, @didierdrogba! ?

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2018 Athlete-driven Leaderboard Below is the performance analysis for athletes’ social performance from eight of the leading sports leagues in the United States; the NBA, NFL, MLS, NHL, MLB, PGA TOUR, WNBA, and LPGA Tour. First, we analyze how entire leagues stack up against one another, then examine how they compare per player. We break down the data by audience, activity, engagement, and growth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from January 1, 2018, until December 31, 2018.

Total Audience

NBA — 721.1 million followers
NFL — 330.3 million followers
MLS — 229.3 million followers
MLB — 116.3 million followers
NHL — 59.6 million followers
PGA TOUR — 56.5 million followers
WNBA — 11.7 million followers
LPGA Tour — 6.1 million followers

TWITTER

NBA — 221.7 million followers
NFL — 120.8 million followers
MLS — 59 million followers
MLB — 52.6 million followers
PGA TOUR — 33.6 million followers
MLS — 31.5 million followers
WNBA — 2.8 million followers
LPGA Tour — 2.3 million followers

FACEBOOK

NBA — 166.6 million followers
MLS — 84.6 million followers
NFL — 42.2 million followers
MLB — 10.7 million followers
PGA TOUR — 7.7 million followers
NHL — 3 million followers
WNBA — 2.5 million followers
LPGA Tour — 731.6 thousand followers

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 332.8 million followers
NFL — 167.3 million followers
MLS — 85.7 million followers
MLB — 53.1 million followers
NHL — 25 million followers
PGA TOUR — 15.2 million followers
WNBA — 6.3 million followers
LPGA Tour — 3.1 million followers

Audience Per Player

NBA — 1.5 million followers
MLS — 350.1 thousand followers
NFL — 185.5 thousand followers
MLB — 177.6 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 159.2 thousand followers
WNBA — 81.8 thousand followers
NHL — 75.1 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 32.4 thousand followers

TWITTER

NBA — 447 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 94.6 thousand followers
MLS — 90.1 thousand followers
NFL — 67.8 thousand followers
MLB — 56 thousand followers
MLS — 48.1 thousand followers
WNBA — 19.6 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 12.2 thousand followers

FACEBOOK

NBA — 335.9 thousand followers
MLS — 129.2 thousand followers
NFL — 23.7 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 21.7 thousand followers
WNBA — 17.5 thousand followers
MLB — 11.4 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 3.9 thousand followers
NHL — 3.8 thousand followers

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 671 thousand followers
MLS — 130.8 thousand followers
NFL — 93.9 thousand followers
MLB — 56.5 thousand followers
WNBA — 44.1 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 42.8 thousand followers
NHL — 31.5 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 16.5 thousand followers

Total Activity

NFL — 254.2 thousand posts
NBA — 102.3 thousand posts
MLB — 60.3 thousand posts
MLS — 57.1 thousand posts
WNBA — 35.7 thousand posts
PGA TOUR — 35.3 thousand posts
LPGA Tour — 22.5 thousand posts
NHL — 18.9 thousand posts

TWITTER

NFL — 169.5 thousand posts
NBA — 60.6 thousand posts
MLB — 30.6 thousand posts
WNBA — 24.1 thousand posts
PGA TOUR — 23.5 thousand posts
MLS — 21.7 thousand posts
LPGA Tour — 10.5 thousand posts
NHL — 8.6 thousand posts

FACEBOOK

MLS — 15.3 thousand posts
NFL — 12.9 thousand posts
NBA — 11.7 thousand posts
MLB — 4 thousand posts
PGA TOUR — 3.9 thousand posts
LPGA Tour — 2.2 thousand posts
WNBA — 1.9 thousand posts
NHL — 1.6 thousand posts

INSTAGRAM

NFL — 71.8 thousand posts
NBA — 30 thousand posts
MLB — 25.7 thousand posts
MLS — 20.1 thousand posts
LPGA Tour — 9.8 thousand posts
WNBA — 9.7 thousand posts
NHL — 8.6 thousand posts
PGA TOUR — 7.8 thousand posts

Activity Per Player

WNBA — 250 posts
NBA — 206 posts
NFL — 143 posts
LPGA Tour — 120 posts
PGA TOUR — 99 posts
MLS — 87 posts
MLB — 64 posts
NHL — 24 posts

Activity Per Player

WNBA — 250 posts
NBA — 206 posts
NFL — 143 posts
LPGA Tour — 120 posts
PGA TOUR — 99 posts
MLS — 87 posts
MLB — 64 posts
NHL — 24 posts

TWITTER

WNBA — 169 posts
NBA — 122 posts
NFL — 95 posts
PGA TOUR — 66 posts
LPGA Tour — 56 posts
MLB — 33 posts
MLS — 33 posts
NHL — 11 posts

FACEBOOK

NBA — 24 posts
MLS — 23 posts
WNBA — 13 posts
LPGA Tour — 12 posts
PGA TOUR — 11 posts
NFL — 7 posts
MLB — 4 posts
NHL — 2 posts

INSTAGRAM

WNBA — 68 posts
NBA — 60 posts
LPGA Tour — 52 posts
NFL — 40 posts
MLS — 31 posts
MLB — 27 posts
PGA TOUR — 22 posts
NHL — 11 posts

Total Engagements

NBA — 1.4 billion engagements
NFL — 1 billion engagements
MLS — 258.1 million engagements
MLB — 208.5 million engagements
NHL — 80.3 million engagements
PGA TOUR — 52.4 million engagements
WNBA — 37.9 million engagements
NHL — 17.5 million engagements

TWITTER

NFL — 142.6 million engagements
NBA — 114.8 million engagements
MLB — 30.3 million engagements
MLS — 13.2 million engagements
PGA TOUR — 9.5 million engagements
NHL — 7.9 million engagements
WNBA — 2.9 million engagements
LPGA Tour — 1.1 million engagements

FACEBOOK

NBA — 18.4 million engagements
MLS — 15.1 million engagements
NFL — 14.8 million engagements
MLB — 4.1 million engagements
PGA TOUR — 3.7 million engagements
NHL — 951 thousand engagements
WNBA — 724.6 thousand engagements
LPGA Tour — 650.8 thousand engagements

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 1.3 billion engagements
NFL — 866.6 million engagements
MLS — 229.9 million engagements
MLB — 174.2 million engagements
NHL — 71.4 million engagements
PGA TOUR — 39.2 million engagements
WNBA — 34.3 million engagements
LPGA Tour — 15.7 million engagements

Engagements Per Player

NBA — 2.8 million engagements
NFL — 561.5 thousand engagements
MLS — 394 thousand engagements
WNBA — 265 thousand engagements
MLB — 221.8 thousand engagements
PGA TOUR — 147.6 thousand engagements
NHL — 101.1 thousand engagements
NHL — 22.1 thousand engagements

TWITTER

NBA — 231.5 thousand engagements
NFL — 80.1 thousand engagements
MLB — 32.2 thousand engagements
PGA TOUR — 26.8 thousand engagements
WNBA — 20.3 thousand engagements
MLS — 20.2 thousand engagements
NHL — 9.9 thousand engagements
LPGA Tour — 5.9 thousand engagements

FACEBOOK

NBA — 37.1 thousand engagements
MLS — 23.1 thousand engagements
PGA TOUR — 10.4 thousand engagements
PGA TOUR — 26.8 thousand engagements
NFL — 8.3 thousand engagements
WNBA — 5.1 thousand engagements
LPGA Tour — 3.5 thousand engagements
NHL — 1.2 thousand engagements

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 2.6 million engagements
PGA TOUR — 1.1 million engagements
NFL — 486.6 thousand engagements
MLS — 350.9 thousand engagements
WNBA — 239.9 thousand engagements
MLB — 185.3 thousand engagements
NHL — 89.9 thousand engagements
LPGA Tour — 83.5 thousand engagements

Total Engagement Rate

NHL — 10.60%
MLS — 8.65%
MLB — 7.34%
NFL — 5.58%
LPGA Tour — 5.43%
NBA — 4.72%
WNBA — 3.62%
PGA TOUR — 3.07%

TWITTER

MLS — 4.89%
NHL — 4.27%
MLB — 3.88%
NFL — 5.58%
NBA — 2.78%
LPGA Tour — 1.56%
WNBA — 1.45%
PGA TOUR — 1.37%

FACEBOOK

LPGA Tour — 6.22%
NHL — 3.60%
MLS — 3.17%
WNBA — 2.53%
NFL — 1.89%
MLB — 1.89%
PGA TOUR — 1.86%
NBA — 1.44%

INSTAGRAM

MLS — 16.85%
NHL — 3.60%
MLB — 12.29%
NFL — 11.66%
NBA — 9.91%
LPGA Tour — 9.40%
WNBA — 9.17%
PGA TOUR — 8.78%

Total Growth

NBA — 84.8 million followers
NFL — 47.5 million followers
MLS — 15.2 million followers
MLB — 13.6 million followers
NHL — 5.8 million followers
PGA TOUR — 4 million followers
WNBA — 1.2 million followers
LPGA Tour — 755.4 thousand followers

TWITTER

NFL — 11.2 million followers
NFL — 47.5 million followers
MLB — 4 million followers
MLS — 2.5 million followers
PGA TOUR — 811.4 thousand followers
NHL — 743.7 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 161.5 thousand followers
WNBA — 43.4 thousand followers

FACEBOOK

NBA — 1.3 million thousand followers
MLB — 84.5 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 52.4 thousand followers
WNBA — 47.8 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 17.9 thousand followers
NHL — -15.9 thousand followers
NFL — -58.2 thousand followers
MLS — -931.3 thousand followers

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 71 million followers
NFL — 36.4 million followers
MLS — 13.7 million followers
MLB — 9.5 million followers
NHL — 5.1 million followers
PGA TOUR — 3.1 million followers
WNBA — 1.1 million followers
LPGA Tour — 576 thousand followers

Growth Per Player

NBA — 84.8 million followers
NFL — 47.5 million followers
MLS — 15.2 million followers
MLB — 13.6 million followers
NHL — 5.8 million followers
PGA TOUR — 4 million followers
WNBA — 1.2 million followers
LPGA Tour — 755.4 thousand followers

FACEBOOK

NBA — 1.3 million thousand followers
MLB — 84.5 thousand followers
PGA TOUR — 52.4 thousand followers
WNBA — 47.8 thousand followers
LPGA Tour — 17.9 thousand followers
NHL — -15.9 thousand followers
NFL — -58.2 thousand followers
MLS — -931.3 thousand followers

INSTAGRAM

NBA — 71 million followers
NFL — 36.4 million followers
MLS — 13.7 million followers
MLB — 9.5 million followers
NHL — 5.1 million followers
PGA TOUR — 3.1 million followers
WNBA — 1.1 million followers
LPGA Tour — 576 thousand followers

Total Growth Rate

NFL — 16.80%
LPGA Tour — 14.01%
NBA — 13.34%
MLB — 13.25%
WNBA — 11.64%
NHL — 10.87%
PGA TOUR — 7.62%
MLS — 7.12%

TWITTER

NFL — 10.19%
MLB — 8.31%
LPGA Tour — 7.63%
NBA — 5.97%
MLS — 4.37%
PGA TOUR — 2.47%
NHL — 2.42%
WNBA — 1.56%

FACEBOOK

LPGA Tour — 2.51%
WNBA — 1.91%
NBA — 0.80%
MLB — 0.80%
PGA TOUR — 0.69%
NFL — -0.14%
NHL — -0.52%
MLS — -1.09%

INSTAGRAM

NFL — 27.80%
NBA — 27.14%
PGA TOUR — 26.00%
NHL — 25.66%
LPGA Tour — 22.50%
MLB — 21.78%
WNBA — 21.71%
MLS — 19.05%

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