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Cowboys Once Again The NFL's Most Popular Team

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Marion Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones celebrate after learning the Cowboys are the most popular NFL team.
Marion Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones celebrate after learning the Cowboys are the most popular NFL team.

The Nielsen Company, one of the world's leading suppliers of marketing information, media information and TV ratings, has developed a metric it calls the Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index which measures media exposure on TV and online.

For the 2009 regular season, Nielsen ranked the popularity of NFL teams based on each team's local and national TV rankings, how often they were mentioned on the internet and how many visitors they attracted to their official websites.

According to this Media Exposure Index, the Cowboys were the most popular NFL team in America last season. The Cowboys came away with the top indexed score of 100, significantly ahead of the runner-up Steelers who finished with an index of 81, followed by the Giants with an index of 70.

The Cowboys’ top ranking was boosted by first-place finishes in national TV rank and website audience rank. The other two categories, local TV rank and online buzz volume were captured by the Saints and Giants, respectively.

The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index measured all 32 NFL teams during the 2009 regular season. Nielsen explain their ranking methodology as follows:

Teams in each category were assigned a score, with the top rank worth 100 points and each subsequent ranking assigned a lower weighted score based on its distance from the top. Final team rankings were calculated using the sum of scores across all four categories, and then indexed with the highest total equaling 100.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the survey confirms that the Cowboys are, in fact, "America's Team."

The Cowboys are on top in part because they're popular to begin with. Nielsen counted the total number of viewers of a team's national broadcasts from last season, rather than the average. So in most cases the more a team was picked to play in front of a national audience, the better it did. The Cowboys, who led the league last year with six national appearances, had a whopping 117 million viewers.

But it’s not just TV which led to the Cowboys being ranked number one. The Cowboys also profited from a tremendous amount of traffic directed at the official website, The Mothership as we puny internet bloggers like to call it. Dallascowboys.com drew nearly 50% more unique visitors per month than the official site of the second-place Steelers.

At the end of May this year, we looked at NFL Teams And Alternative Media. At the time, the Cowboys had 622,239 Facebook Fans. In the four months since, the number of Facebook Fans has more than doubled to 1,372,432. Pretty impressive.

The "Popularty" Index

The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index ranks the popularity of NFL teams based on each team's local and national TV rankings, how often they're mentioned on the Internet and how many visitors they attracted to their official websites in the 2009 regular season.

Rank Team Sum
1 Cowboys 100
2 Steelers 81
3 Giants 70
4 Bears 67
5
Packers 67
6 Vikings 67
7 Eagles 66
8 Colts 62
9 Saints 62
10 Patriots 58
11 Redskins 55
12 Broncos 51
13 Chargers 50
14
Bengals 48
15 Titans 47
16 Ravens 46
Rank Team Sum
17 Cardinals 46
18 Jets 42
19 Dolphins 40
20 Bills 38
21 Browns 37
22 Falcons 36
23 Panthers 36
24 Chiefs 34
25 Raiders 33
26 Lions 32
27 49ers 30
28 Texans 27
29 Seahawks 27
30 Jaguars 25
31 Buccaneers 25
32 Rams 22

Nielsen explains that the Cowboys have ranked first for the last two years.

The Steelers moved up from third to second, swapping places with the Giants. The Minnesota Vikings, aided no doubt by the presence and performance of legendary QB Brett Favre, climbed from 13th place in 2008 to a tie for 4th in the 2009 regular season ranking. The Washington Redskins, meanwhile, dropped from 5th in 2008 to 11th in 2009.

It appears that Cowboys fans have every right to call their team "America’s Team."