It seems at times as if the Houston media treats the Houston Texans as the most exciting thing in sports. But just how much do Houstonians really care about the team? What about the rest of the country? Just how passionate are fans about the Texans? According to a study from a professor at Emory University, the answer is: not very.
The NFL Fandom Report sets out to answer what team has the best fans in the NFL. The results are based on fan interest when analyzed through a combination of three metrics: fan equity, social media equity and road equity. The #1 ranked team is the Dallas Cowboys, followed by the New England Patriots. Stuck down in 22nd place are the Houston Texans.
The report finds that the Texans are 14th when it comes to fan equity, a measure of home box office revenues. The team is 13th when it comes to social media equity, which equates to fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s community. But what kills the Texans is the road equity, which focuses on how a team draws on the road. The Texans rank dead last in that category.
The overall ranking for the Texans makes some sense. They were an awful franchise for many years, with no real identity, which has never really given the fan base a reason to be truly passionate about the club. But why are the Texans the absolute worst team in the NFL when it comes to drawing fans on the road?
The Texans are generic. The team name is boring. The team colors, logo and uniform are that special kind of bland that comes from marketing people who spend too much time with focus groups. There is absolutely nothing imaginative about the team. It has no history and no real achievements.
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The Texans have very little playoff success. And now that Jeff Fisher is out of the league, could Bill O’Brien replace him as No. 1 on that list of coaches who somehow continue to keep a job year after year after year despite producing a mediocre product? The Texans somehow manage to find ways to squeak past bad teams, but O’Brien’s guys are continuously slaughtered whenever facing a semi-competent opponent.
Maybe this is why Americans outside of Houston just aren’t interested in coming out when the Texans visit their stadium. Especially since so many of the games are on national television on Sunday or Monday nights, why go out and pay to see a boring, uncompetitive game featuring a team that is so often outclassed and out-coached?
This might be the best reason the NFL needs to keep the Texans off of national television. If fans can’t see the team get blown out by the Patriots in prime time, then maybe people in other locations won’t be so hesitant about paying to see the team in person. That's probably why truly bad franchises like the Browns and the Jaguars aren’t further down on the road equity list. They’re almost never on national television enough so that while the team might be bad, the only way to see them play is in person.
Maybe the Texans can at least put up a fight with good teams on the road. But until then, it appears, overall fan interest in the Texans from the rest of the country is going to stay as poor as Bill O’Brien’s game planning.