As Pat McAfee aptly stated during the introduction of the Colts’ 2021 schedule release, “the NFL has a new initiative – spend millions and millions of dollars on your social media platforms debuting your season schedule.” When NFL schedules were released at 8 pm on May 12, each team, as has become the tradition, was prepared with a video highlighting who and when their team would be playing. SBJ Atlas and Zoomph worked together to dig into the data behind this viral event to uncover the big winners from the 2021 NFL schedule release.
View Ratio: 30% (Rank: 1st) | Views: 276K (Rank: 4th) | Engagement Rate: 1.45% (Rank: 2nd) | Engagement Uplift: 15% (Rank: 19th) | Link:
The Los Angeles Chargers leveraged one of the team’s marquee players to share their schedule with their fan base. Compared to their number of followers, the Chargers led the league with their video view ratio coming in at 30%, 12 percentage points higher than the second-ranked team. In addition to leading all teams in view ratio, the Chargers’ PowerPoint video had an engagement rate of 1.45% which, despite ranking second across the league, was only 15% higher than their average post over the past month. This speaks to the strength of their social team and the engagement of their followers.
View Ratio: 18% (Rank: 2nd) | Views: 472K (Rank: 2nd) | Engagement Rate: 1.45% (Rank: 6th) | Engagement Uplift: 82% (Rank: 4th)
Sponsors: UC Health (Presenting)
The Broncos brought back icon Peyton Manning to present the 2021 schedule as part of his summer “internship” with the team. The Broncos video ranked toward the top of each metric analyzed by SBJ Atlas and Zoomph and trailed only the Cowboys in total views during the 12 hours surrounding the release. One of the team’s most prominent sponsors, UC Health, received consistent branding via a watermark logo, which drove significant value for the healthcare provider given the volume of views generated.
View Ratio: 18% (Rank: 3rd) | Views: 194K (Rank: 5th) | Engagement Rate: 1.43% (Rank: 4th) | Engagement Uplift: 25% (Rank: 13th)
The Colts emerged from the schedule release as a big winner thanks to their leveraging of fan favorites Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri. In the bit, McAfee and Vinatieri seemingly create the video prior to knowing actual game dates and widely speculate about the season schedule. McAfee’s strong following on social likely contributed to the video’s success where the team ranked in the top five in view ratio, views, and engagement rate.
View Ratio: 13% (Rank: 4th) | Views: 498K (Rank: 1st) | Engagement Rate: 1.51% (Rank: 1st) | Engagement Uplift: 136% (Rank: 3rd)
Sponsors: SeatGeek (Presenting)
One takeaway from the NFL schedule release is that fans love seeing billionaire owners show their comedic side. Arguably the best example of this was an unlikely pairing of Jerry Jones with hip-hop artist Post Malone. In the schedule release video, Post Malone delivers the schedule to the Cowboys’ larger-than-life owner and the two party together afterward. The Cowboys’ strong view ratio and engagement rates were particularly impressive when considering the size of the team’s following.
View Ratio: 12% (Rank: 5th) | Views: 194K (Rank: 6th) | Engagement Rate: 1.38% (Rank: 7th) | Engagement Uplift: 60% (Rank: 6th)
Teams are increasingly turning to celebrities to help introduce their schedule and no team did it better than the Baltimore Ravens. Using Cameo, the Ravens featuring Brian Baumgartner (”The Office”), Christopher McDonald (”Happy Gilmore”) and LaVar Ball when introducing each opponent. As one twitter follower said, “Most videos lose me after 30 seconds but I watched this entire thing to see which celebrity was next!” The team’s efforts resulted in top 10 rankings across all metrics analyzed.
Based on research conducted by SBJ Atlas, over half of teams (17/32) featured a partner as the presenting sponsor of their schedule release. Other teams such as the Carolina Panthers and Washington Football Team also wove sponsors into the video content itself, creating an organic opportunity for fans to connect with brands. While the involvement of some sponsors was limited to a logo bug flashing on screen at the end of the video, other teams did more. The Chicago Bears’ video revolved around Benjamin Moore, ensuring each viewer received exposure to the partnership. Ticket providers SeatGeek (Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints) and Ticketmaster (Minnesota Vikings, Washington Football Team) each fittingly served as the presenting sponsor of multiple videos.