Astros rank last in fan loyalty


According to data compiled by research company Brand Keys, the Astros are losing fans by the droves and now rank dead last in fan loyalty. Back-to-back 100 loss seasons and a move to the American League West have caused many longtime Astros fans to take their allegiance elsewhere. The Astros, who ranked 23rd last year, have replaced the Pittsburgh Pirates at the bottom of this year’s list.

According to Brand Keys, Astros fans ranked as the fourth most loyal back in 2008. To fall that far that fast says a lot. Attendance figures back up these findings as well. Fresh off their appearance in the 2005 World Series, the Astros drew 3,022,763 fans in 2006. That was sixth best in the National League. Attendance numbers at Minute Maid Park declined steadily over the next few years, dropping to a turnstile count of only 2,067,016 in 2011. Then the bottom fell out. After the Crane group’s purchase of the team and the announcement of the league change, attendance plummeted to a league low of 1,607,733 last season.

Wins and losses are obviously another factor when it comes to fan loyalty, but there’s a lot more that goes into the rankings. An article by Maury Brown at Biz of Baseball explains it like this:

This was a familiar scene at Minute Maid Park in 2012 (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

"The Sports Fan Loyalty Index, which measures all the teams in the four Major Leagues, provides an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity with which fans within a team’s SMSA support the home team versus corresponding values for fans of other teams in that market."

These results appear to suggest that there are a lot of people in and around the Houston area that are buying other teams’ merchandise. Still, I always see people sporting their Astros colors at stadiums all over the country — at least in other National League cities. I don’t think the fact that there are Astros fans all over the place was taken into consideration in this survey… maybe it was. Either way, it will be interesting to see if we still see Astros fans in the stands in American League cities. That is — if we can actually watch the games on TV this season.

The ability to watch the games must certainly have an effect on the Sports Fan Loyalty Index. That means Comcast SportsNet Houston, which is partially owned by the Astros, needs to strike a deal with those cable and satellite TV carriers that are still holding out. Time is running out and the only fans that are left are the ones who fit in the category of most loyal.

I wonder if “the powers that be” even realize that the only fans left are the ones who have historically watched almost every game. Some of us can’t afford to go to the game all of the time, especially with dynamic pricing. Others live too far away, but not far enough away to escape the massive TV blackout zone. Maybe we don’t spend enough money to be viewed as important.

To read the entire article at Biz of Baseball click on the link below.