North America’s Favorite Franchises (NFL - NBA - MLB - NHL & by State)

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Who is the Oprah Winfrey of the sports franchise industry?

North America’s Favorite Franchises (NFL - NBA - MLB - NHL & by State)
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

From sporting events that appeal to global audiences, such as the annual NFL Super Bowl Championship, to the more niche sports of Quadball (otherwise known as Quidditch for you Harry Potter fans), there really is something for everyone.

The national leagues of football, basketball, hockey and baseball, known as the ‘Big Four’ are currently all billion-dollar industries. As a result, it is fair to say that North America has cemented itself as a sporting giant.  

US Betting Sites now offer so many opportunities to get involved in the world of sports, but with over 100 sports franchises to choose from within the Big Four leagues, it can be tricky to know who to back - luckily the team here at OLBG has got you covered!

Using a combination of search data, social followings, Youtube subscriber counts and fan attendance statistics we have made a list of the most popular sports franchises across America and Canada.  

Below is a list of the most sought-after sports franchises across the Big Four leagues. With a total of 124 franchises in America and Canada, we have ranked them based on their social popularity and attendance.

Rank Sport Franchise Location Sport Fan attendance Search volume Youtube subscribers Average social following Franchise Popularity Score /10
1 Dallas Cowboys Texas NFL 85,428 69,740,000 301,000 5,474,785 9.78
2 New England Patriots Massachusetts NFL 69,464 15,729,000 211,000 5,274,434 8.78
3 Pittsburgh Steelers Pennsylvania NFL 67,541 23,129,000 183,000 4,300,000 8.7
4 Kansas City Chiefs Missouri NFL 70,811 27,006,000 238,000 2,122,097 8.66
5 Green Bay Packers Wisconsin NFL 70,529 36,716,000 104,000 3,297,425 8.64
5 Philadelphia Eagles Pennsylvania NFL 67,653 19,333,000 248,000 2,993,784 8.64
7 San Francisco 49ers California NFL 71,274 11,829,000 223,000 2,869,250 8.48
8 Denver Broncos Colorado NFL 73,721 22,036,000 116,000 2,592,815 8.46
9 Golden State Warriors California NBA 18,087 43,376,000 1,600,000 15,618,764 8.44
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1. Dallas Cowboys, NFL - Popularity score of 9.78 /10

Of all the Big Four leagues, it is a Football team that tops the ranking for the most popular sports franchise in North America. Residing in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys have come out with a popularity score of 9.78 out of a possible 10, and based on their nickname of ‘America’s Team’ it is clear that they have a place in the heart of many.


2. New England Patriots, NFL - Popularity score of 8.78 /10

Playing in the iconic national colors of red, white and blue, the New England Patriots come in as the second most popular sports franchise with a popularity score of 8.78. They have a strong online presence meaning that their devoted fans have a lot to see - even their mascot ‘Pat Patriot’ has his own Twitter page! 


3. Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL - Popularity score of 8.7 /10

With the joint highest number of Super Bowl wins alongside the New England Patriots, it seems that the recurring global coverage may have catapulted them into the limelight as they complete the top three in our list of the most popular sports franchises in North America.

MLB baseball giant

As the oldest major sports league in the world, MLB has cemented itself as a baseball giant! With teams spanning across 29 US states, as well as in the Canadian city of Toronto, there are baseball opportunities all over North America, but which of these teams are currently the most popular?

Rank Sport Franchise Location Fan attendance Search volume Youtube subscribers Average social following Franchise Popularity Score /10
1 New York Yankees New York 35,220 22,278,000 124,000 4,937,671 8.31
2 Chicago Cubs Illinois 30,675 12,357,000 211,000 2,500,000 7.74
3 Atlanta Braves Georgia 33,461 37,448,000 96,300 1,830,470 7.44
4 LA Dodgers California 39,388 7,019,000 211,000 2,966,667 7.36
5 Boston Red Sox Massachusetts 29,257 10,068,000 78,300 3,043,090 6.81
6 St. Louis Cardinals Missouri 34,485 24,178,000 67,400 1,500,000 6.71
7 Houston Astros Texas 29,179 20,450,000 47,100 1,566,232 6.16
8 New York Mets New York 31,281 9,193,500 73,700 1,367,560 5.87
9 San Francisco Giants California 30,002 5,126,500 78,600 1,948,959 5.78
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1. New York Yankees - Popularity score of 8.31 /10

With a score of 8.31 /10, the New York Yankees top this list as the current most popular MLB team. Indicators of their popularity include the fact that they have the largest average social following of any teams featured in this list with a total of 4,937,671. As well as this, they also have a high average fan attendance when compared to their rival clubs, and are among the most Googled baseball teams.


2. Chicago Cubs - Popularity score of 7.74 /10

As one of two MLB teams situated in Illinois, the Chicago Cubs take this silver medal in terms of the most popular baseball franchises. Playing their home games at Wrigley Field, this team is more commonly known for their large Youtube following which they regularly provide content for, with notable series including ‘The Breakdown’ whereby well-known Cub-related events are analyzed. 

3. Atlanta Braves - Popularity score of 7.44 /10

Completing this top three are the Atlanta Braves who have a popularity score of 7.44 /10. One aspect worth mentioning here is their colossal 37,448,000 total Google searches over the last year - higher than any other club in this list! Their mammoth search interest is likely the result of the popular network ‘Battery Power’ which reports on the latest news about this franchise and regularly makes the headlines. 

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NBA’s Most Popular Franchises

Despite being a newer addition to the Big Four leagues, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has certainly made its mark within the sporting industry. NBA players are currently among the top highest-paid athletes and this is the result of sponsorships and endorsements resulting from the widespread popularity of this sport.

Rank Sport Franchise Location Fan attendance Search volume Youtube subscribers Average social following Franchise Popularity Score /10
1 Golden State Warriors California 18,087 43,376,000 1,600,000 15,618,764 8.44
2 Chicago Bulls Illinois 19,556 16,723,000 257,000 10,057,729 8.23
3 Miami Heat Florida 18,476 30,963,000 140,000 8,362,623 7.99
4 Boston Celtics Massachusetts 18,360 29,950,000 130,000 6,442,557 7.79
5 Milwaukee Bucks Wyoming 17,555 13,785,000 409,000 3,079,276 7.32
6 Dallas Mavericks Texas 18,415 18,243,000 118,000 3,112,539 7.24
7 LA Lakers California 18,414 3,635,000 548,000 17,792,766 6.59
8 Brooklyn Nets New York 17,405 11,511,000 83,400 3,128,707 6.26
9 New York Knicks New York 18,177 5,010,000 81,200 3,742,397 5.71
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1. Golden State Warriors - Popularity score of 8.44 /10

Situated in California and featuring the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in their logo, Golden State Warriors come out as the most popular NBA franchise with a score of 8.44 /10. This team is also home to Steph Curry, who is often regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time and highest point scorers. As a result, this franchise is often making the headlines due to his notoriety in the sport - evident by the 43,376,000 Google searches in the last year!


2. Chicago Bulls - Popularity score of 8.23 /10

Joining the Golden State Warriors in this top three are the Chicago Bulls who come in second place with a popularity score of 8.23 /10. With a plethora of trophies in their cabinet, this franchise has had many moments in the spotlight! This success has inevitably led them to gain a large audience, evident by an average social media following of 10,057,729.


3. Miami Heat - Popularity score of 7.99 /10

Any fans of basketball will be aware of the rivalry between our second-place franchise and Miami Heat, and it seems that in terms of popularity, Miami Heat has just fallen short on this occasion. Despite this, the prevalence of this team is still very impressive, with stats including 140,000 Youtube subscribers, and over 30,000,000 searches for this franchise in the last year.

NFL’s Most Popular Franchises

As demonstrated in our ‘Most Popular Sports Franchises’ list, an overwhelming proportion of the teams were from the National Football League (NFL) - with this sport being responsible for the top eight most popular franchises overall. From this it is clear to see that the NFL is hugely popular, but what makes these teams so sought after?

Rank Sport Franchise Location Fan attendance Search volume Youtube subscribers Average social following Franchise Popularity Score /10
1 Dallas Cowboys Texas 85,428 69,740,000 301,000 5,474,785 9.78
2 New England Patriots Massachusetts 69,464 15,729,000 211,000 5,274,434 8.78
3 Pittsburgh Steelers Pennsylvania 67,541 23,129,000 183,000 4,300,000 8.7
4 Kansas City Chiefs Missouri 70,811 27,006,000 238,000 2,122,097 8.66
5 Green Bay Packers Wisconsin 70,529 36,716,000 104,000 3,297,425 8.64
5 Philadelphia Eagles Pennsylvania 67,653 19,333,000 248,000 2,993,784 8.64
7 San Francisco 49ers California 71,274 11,829,000 223,000 2,869,250 8.48
8 Denver Broncos Colorado 73,721 22,036,000 116,000 2,592,815 8.46
9 Chicago Bears Illinois 68,778 28,443,000 148,000 2,352,114 8.42
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1. Dallas Cowboys - Popularity score of 9.78 /10

After ranking first on the overall sports franchise list, it comes as no surprise that the Dallas Cowboys are the most popular NFL franchise. Outnumbering their opponents in every one of the popularity-related categories, this Texas team could not be more deserving of the title. Let's forget the time the Cowboys blew a 24 point lead against the Detroit Lions!


2. New England Patriots - Popularity score of 8.78 /10

Also making their second appearance in these rankings are the New England Patriots. As previously mentioned, they have a popularity score of 8.78 /10 which is largely due to their large social media following - including 211,000 Youtube subscribers. Despite having a lower average fan attendance than some of the other NFL teams, they make up for it with their extensive social media coverage and livestreams. 

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3. Pittsburgh Steelers - Popularity score of 8.7 /10

Completing our top three list of the most popular NFL franchises is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Competing against their Pennsylvanian rivals, it appears that the Steelers are largely preferred in terms of popularity. One notable Steeler’s fan is rapper Snoop Dogg who famously performed at the Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year and has no doubt contributed to the popularity of this franchise.

NHL’s Most Popular Franchises

Featuring a larger number of Canadian teams than any of the other Big Four leagues, the National Hockey League (NHL) is considered the highest-ranked ice hockey competition in the world - but have the American teams pushed their way to the top of the popularity table?

Rank Sport Franchise Location Fan attendance Search volume Youtube subscribers Average social following Franchise Popularity Score /10
1 Pittsburgh Penguins Pennsylvania 17,684 8,965,000 47,200 2,029,790 5.04
2 Chicago Blackhawks Illinois 18,489 3,755,000 70,900 2,190,984 4.92
3 Boston Bruins Massachusetts 17,850 7,688,000 17,500 1,679,621 3.95
4 Tampa Bay Light Florida 19,092 11,329,500 20,300 716,193 3.86
5 Toronto Maple Leafs Toronto 15,586 2,397,000 117,000 1,490,983 3.76
6 Washington Capitals Washington 18,573 3,945,000 54,500 835,743 3.72
6 Colorado Avalanche Colorado 17,498 11,702,000 31,300 688,468 3.72
8 New York Rangers New York 16,839 6,350,000 34,400 1,343,315 3.58
9 Minnesota Wild Minnesota 18,542 5,870,000 40,300 634,907 3.54
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1. Pittsburgh Penguins - Popularity score of 5.04 /10

The Pittsburgh Penguins take the top spot as the most popular NHL franchise with a score of 5.04 /10. This team plays host to a plethora of community events and nationwide initiatives which have undoubtedly contributed to its growth in popularity since they were founded in the 1960s. 


2. Chicago Blackhawks - Popularity score of 4.92 /10

Just below the Penguins, with a popularity score of 4.92 /10, are the Chicago Blackhawks. As one of the original six NHL franchises, the Hawks have managed to retain their popularity over the years by adapting to the online world. As a result of this, they currently have an average social following of 2,190,984 which is the largest of any other teams in this list.


3. Boston Bruins - Popularity score of 3.95 /10

Despite having the lowest Youtube subscriber count of every NHL team, the Boston Bruins are ranked as the third most popular franchise in this league. As their name suggests, this team is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and they play their home games at TD Garden. With a larger average attendance than the team in the top spot, it suggests that the fans of this franchise are devoted.

As previously mentioned, the Big Four leagues include teams from a range of areas across North America, and some of these locations play host to multiple teams. Because of this, we were interested to see each state's most popular franchise.

This list only includes US states, and any states for which there were no franchises were removed. 

US State Sport Franchise Sport Franchise Popularity Score /10
Arizona Phoenix Arizona Cardinals NFL 6.02
California Los Angeles Oakland Sacramento San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Francisco 49ers NFL 8.48
Colorado Denver Denver Broncos NFL 8.46
Florida Jacksonville Miami Orlando Tampa Miami Heat NBA 7.99
Georgia Atlanta Atlanta Braves MLB 7.44
Illinois Chicago Chicago Bears NFL 8.42
Indiana Indianapolis Indianapolis Colts NFL 5.47
Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans Saints NFL 7.4
Maryland Baltimore Baltimore Ravens NFL 7.99
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Methodology

We used information from Stadium Maps to make a list of every sports franchise across the following leagues: MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL.

We used a combination of ESPN data and Wikipedia to find the average attendance for home and away games in 2022 for each of the above leagues. 

We used Google Keyword Planner to add up the total number of US searches for each sports franchise between Nov 2021-Oct 2022. 

We used Youtube to find the current number of subscribers for each sports franchise. 

We used the following platforms to find the number of followers for each sports franchise: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. By adding together the total number of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook followers for each franchise and dividing this number by 3, we were able to calculate the average social following for each franchise. 

Finally, we used the popularity-based factors (average attendance, search volume, Youtube subscribers and average social following) and normalized each factor out of 10 before taking an average of those scores to get our overall popularity score. 

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