The Most Loved American Sports Teams
Have you ever wondered which teams are actually the most popular among fans? We’ve revealed the best-loved NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS franchises.
Enjoying the drama and competition of sport, whether from the stadium or the sofa, is a popular pastime across America, with the latest basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and soccer scores dominating conversations up and down the country. But which leagues and teams are the most popular among fans?
Read on to discover which major league franchises are the most likeable according to social media sentiment data, as well as which leagues have the highest combined social media following.
Which is the most followed league in America?
With an incredible 417.19k combined followers between all competing franchises, the NBA takes the crown as the nation’s most popular league. In fact, the combined following of all NBA teams is almost twice the number of those in the NFL (224.77k), which ranks second. Ranking third, MLB (131.39k) is the final league with over 100,000 accumulative followers, while NHL (81.15k) and MLS (28.99k) complete the top five.
The most popular NBA teams
Despite enjoying a golden period on-court in recent years, reaching the NBA Finals five times since 2015 (winning three, including the 2022 championship) and being among the favorites in the sports betting odds to triumph again in 2023, the Warriors can only claim second place when it comes to online sentiment. It’s close, but with a positive sentiment score of 19.1%, the Warriors place just behind the Chicago Bulls (20.8%), who likely carry a lot of legacy love from the Michael Jordan era.
Next up, Orlando Magic place third with a positive sentiment score of 16.3%, followed by the New York Knicks (16.1%). It’s perhaps interesting that both teams are so well-received, despite a significant lack of success over the years compared to the likes of the Bulls and Warriors.
Meanwhile, on the topic of success, the Milwaukee Bucks round out the five NBA teams with the highest rate of positive online sentiment, thanks in part to the story behind their 2021 championship triumph.
The most popular NFL teamsThe NFL has hundreds of millions of fans around the world, but some teams are held in higher regard than others; and none more so than the Chicago Bears. In fact, the Bears recorded a positive sentiment score of 19.7%, ahead of the next-highest scoring team the Baltimore Ravens (18.2%). Curiously, neither team is among the ten most followed NFL franchises on social media, suggesting that overall followers doesn’t necessarily equate to likeability.
Next up, the Green Bay Packers record a likeability rating of 16.4%, closely followed by the New England Patriots (16.3%) and New Orleans Saints (16.2%). Notably, the New York Giants and New York Jets are also only marginally behind, both earning positive sentiment scores of 16.1%.
Interestingly, despite enjoying the glory of recent Super Bowl success, the Los Angeles Rams are far from the best-loved team, with just 9.42% of all online conversations about the team considered positive.
The most popular MLB teams
Analyzing the positive sentiment scores of each MLB franchise, we can reveal that the Chicago Cubs are America’s best-loved baseball team, with a likeability rating of 22.3%. Taking silver, we have the Baltimore Orioles (20.2%), who haven’t won a World Series title since 1983, followed closely by the St Louis Cardinals (19.9%) and Cincinnati Reds (19.7%).
Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays (17.0%) round out the top five, ahead of 27-time World Series winners the New York Yankees (16.2%) and 2022 World Series favorite the Boston Red Sox (15.3%).
The most popular NHL teams
Comparing each NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights are far-and-away the most adored, with an astounding positive sentiment score of 30.5%. In contrast, just 8.29% of online conversations related to 2022 Stanley Cup champions Colorado Avalanche are considered positive.
Ranking second, the Chicago Blackhawks record a positive sentiment rating of 22.4%, followed by the St Louis Blues (20.0%). Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets (18.0%) and Dallas Stars (16.9%) complete the top five best-loved NHL franchises.
Interestingly, though, there are a further five teams within a single percentage point of the Stars. The New Jersey Devils (16.3%), New York Rangers (16.2%), New York Islanders (16.2%), Anaheim Ducks (16.1%), and Detroit Red Wings (15.9%) all come close to a place in the top five, while the LA Kings (15.3%) and Calgary Flames (15.3%) are a little further adrift.
The most popular MLS teams
The MLS has seen incredible growth in popularity over the years, and now has millions of dedicated fans across the country who follow their team home and away. But which franchise is most popular online?
Recording a likeability score of 20.2%, Charlotte FC are officially the most loved MLS team, despite only joining the league this season. Meanwhile, recently founded franchises FC Cincinnati (17.1%) and Austin FC (17.1%) tie for second, trailed closely by LA Galaxy (16.5%), New York Red Bulls (16.5%), New York City FC (16.4%), FC Dallas (16.4%), and New England Revolution (16.3%).
David Beckham mania hasn’t swept the country quite as effectively second time round, though, with Inter Miami (13.4%) ranking 13th for likeability, while Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale’s new team LAFC (9.9%) can only place 22nd.
Comparing teams across different major American and Canadian leagues, it’s interesting to see which are the most popular among fans, as well as the seemingly lack of correlation between follower count and positive sentiment.
To determine the teams with the most positive online sentiment, we used Linkfluence, a social listening tool, to crawl team mentions across social media over the last 12 months. From here, we ranked the teams based on the percentage of positive sentiment. Data is accurate as of 06/21/2022.