The national anthem protests that have enveloped the entire NFL over the past week had another, less noticeable effect on the league this past Sunday and Monday – most teams lost likes on Facebook.
According to a report from The Advocate, which focused on likes lost by the New Orleans Saints, 28 of the NFL’s 32 teams had a net decline in likes on Monday and Tuesday. The four outliers were the Houston Texas, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys (who have the league’s largest Facebook fanbase at over 8.7 million likes).
The total hit to NFL teams’ Facebook pages over those two days numbered just over 88,000, which seems like a large number, but is a drop in the bucket given that the league’s 32 teams combine to have more than 100 million likes.
Overall, no team suffered a drop of more than half of one percent of their total likes. However, the data is still significant because no team had lost more than 1,000 likes in a day over the last month prior to this past weekend.
The largest overall drop belonged to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have the NFL’s third-largest Facebook fanbase at 6.5 million likes. Pittsburgh lost over 17,000 likes, which is just 0.27% of their overall total. The largest drop in terms of raw percentage points belonged, ironically, to Pittsburgh’s AFC North rival – the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore lost a total of just over 11,000 fans, 0.48% of their total.
The two day drop didn’t slow the year-long positive trend for the 32 teams – they’ve gained nearly two million likes cumulatively over the last year, and only eight teams have fewer likes at this point in 2017 than in 2016.
In the grand scheme of things, losing Facebook likes doesn’t mean a whole lot. If merchandise and ticket sales start to take a hit, however, then maybe NFL teams will start to be worried. The only thing that has ever been proven to matter to the league is the almighty dollar.