The 10 Most Followed Sports Franchises in America
Image source: Kyle Fritz
There are many ways to determine the popularity of a sports team; TV rights, sponsorship deals, and average live attendance. However, social media following is one of the best metrics of popularity in the digital age.
Social media is the bridge between professional sports franchises and their ever-increasing fanbase in this day and age. Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok, fans can connect with the teams they so dearly love and keep a tab on the latest updates.
While American franchises are some of the richest professional sports teams in the world, European soccer clubs have the upper edge when it comes to social media following. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are the most popular professional sports clubs, with hundreds of millions of followers across all platforms. Each of these clubs’ overall social media following is more than the combined following of the top 10 most followed franchises in the US.
Eight of the current top 10 American franchises are NBA teams, while one MLB and two NFL teams make the cut as well. Without further ado, here are the most followed American sports teams on social media.
PS: This list is based on a combined following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Combined following: 14.9M
Breakdown: (Facebook – 6.4m, Twitter – 2.8m, Instagram – 5.3m, TikTok – 468.9k)
Originally established as the Seattle Supersonics, the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and adopted its current name. Although still without a championship, OKC has produced some of the finest talents in the NBA. Former players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden have all gone to win MVP awards (Harden won the MVP after he left OKC).
New York Yankees
Combined following: 15.5m
Breakdown (Facebook – 8.2m, Twitter – 3.6m, Instagram – 2.9m, TikTok – 824k)
The Yankees are the most successful MLB franchise by a mile. They’ve made 40 appearances in the World Series, the most of any MLB franchise, and have won the title 27 times.
The Yankees are the most valuable baseball team, according to Forbes. They also rank as the second most valuable franchise in the world, with $5.2 billion, as of 2020.
New England Patriots
Combined following: 17m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 6.6m, Twitter – 4.6m, Instagram – 4.7m, TikTok – 1.1m)
Since the turn of the decade, no other NFL franchise has dominated the league like the Patriots. They’ve been to eleven Super Bowls in their history and are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most wins (6). The Patriots are also the last team to repeat as Super Bowl champions when they won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004.
Tom Brady, one of the most marketable athletes in the world, spent his first 20 seasons with the Patriots and was instrumental in their championship runs.
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Combined following: 18.3m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 8.3m, Twitter – 4.2m, Instagram – 4.1m, and TikTok – 1.7m)
The Cowboys are the richest professional sports franchise in the world, with a valuation of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes. They’ve made eight Super Bowl appearances, lifting the Lombardi trophy on five occasions. The Cowboys were the most dominant football team in the 90s, and they have the largest fanbase in the league to this day.
Combined following: 20.1m
Breakdown: (Facebook 8.6m, Twitter 3.9m, Instagram 6.6m, TikTok 1m)
The Celtics were established in 1946 as one of the NBA’s eight maiden teams. They were the first dynasty in the NBA, winning 11 titles from 1957 to 1969.
The Celtics have made 22 NBA finals appearances and are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for most wins (17). Boston has produced some of the game’s finest players, such as Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Paul Pierce.
Combined following: 24.2m
Breakdown: Facebook – 7.9m, Twitter – 3.3m, Instagram – 12.7m, TikTok – 334.9k
The Cavs won their first NBA title in 2016 in a historic fashion. They were the first team in NBA history to overturn a 3-1 Finals deficit.
Cleveland owes its large following to Lebron James, one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He spent his first seven years with the franchise, signed with the Miami Heat, and came back to Cleveland to lead the franchise to championship glory. The win also marked the City of Cleveland’s first professional sports title in 52 years.
Combined following: 26m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 14.4m, Twitter – 5m, Instagram – 5.8m, TikTok – 898.4k)
The Miami Heat are one of the most successful NBA teams in this century, with three NBA championships to their name. The Heat once boasted a roster that had Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen.
The franchise currently holds the record for the third-longest winning streak in the NBA (27 games), a feat they achieved during the 2012-2013 regular season.
Combined following: 30.6m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 16.8m, Twitter – 4.6m, Instagram – 8.4m, TikTok – 897.7k)
A franchise that produced almost unanimously the greatest basketball player of all time is bound to have a large fanbase. Michael Jordan not only put the City of Chicago on the map but also helped popularize the NBA outside America. MJ remains one of the most influential and marketable individuals. His No. 23 Bulls jersey still sells to this day.
The Jordan-led Bulls were the team to beat in the 90s; they won six titles in dominating fashion, three-peating twice.
Golden State Warriors
Combined following: 48.7m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 11.7m, Twitter – 7.7m, Instagram – 25m, TikTok – 4.3 m)
The Dubs are the current NBA champions and have dominated the last eight years, winning four Larry O’Brien trophies and making the finals six times. Overall, the Warriors have won eight NBA titles, making them one of the most successful franchises in the league.
With a $4.7 billion valuation, they are currently the most valuable NBA team and are ranked sixth across all professional sports in the world, according to Forbes.
Los Angeles Lakers
Combined following: 52.4m
Breakdown: (Facebook – 21.6m, Twitter – 10.8m, Instagram – 20m)
LA takes the top spot for most followed American professional sports teams. The Lakers have numerous records to their name; they’ve made the most trips to the Finals, are tied with the Celtics for most wins (17),
Some of the most legendary basketball names have adorned the purple and gold; Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, and Lebron James, who is entering his fourth season in Los Angeles.
They are the second most valuable NBA franchise and are seventh on the list of the World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams with $4.6 billion as of 2021.
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