September 24, 2013 4:25 pm

Kings grade high in ESPN study

ESPN the Magazine compiled its annual Ultimate Standings that grade sports franchises amongst the four major professional sports in a variety of weighted criteria and released the results in the annual Franchise Issue earlier this week.

The Los Angeles Kings ranked sixth amongst the 30 NHL teams and 24th overall amongst the 122 NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL teams.

NHL Rankings (overall rankings):
1 – Pittsburgh Penguins (7)
2 – Anaheim Ducks (8)
3 – Ottawa Senators (9)
4 – Detroit Red Wings (13)
5 – Chicago Blackhawks (14)
6 – Los Angeles Kings (24)
7 – St. Louis Blues (26)
8 – San Jose Sharks (28)
9 – Tampa Bay Lightning (30)
10 – Nashville Predators (38)
11 – New Jersey Devils (40)
12 – Carolina Hurricanes (41)
13 – Columbus Blue Jackets (46)
14 – Phoenix Coyotes (47)
15 – Boston Bruins (48)
16 – Minnesota Wild (50)
17 – Montreal Canadiens (63)
18 – Philadelphia Flyers (67)
19 – Washington Capitals (68)
20 – Dallas Stars (70)
21 – New York Rangers (76)
22 – New York Islanders (78)
23 – Winnipeg Jets (80)
24 – Florida Panthers (82)
25 – Buffalo Sabres (90)
26 – Vancouver Canucks (99)
27 – Colorado Avalanche (101)
28 – Calgary Flames (105)
29 – Edmonton Oilers (110)
30 – Toronto Maple Leafs (119)

Chicago consulting firm Maddock Douglas was brought in to help conduct the study, which included a survey of 1,011 sports fans across North America. The survey featured 25 topics, which were then condensed into seven categories: Title Track, Ownership, Coaching, Players, Fan Relations, Affordability and Stadium Experience. For an eighth category, the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center was consulted to devise a formula that converted revenue generated into overall regular season and postseason success. This category was called Bang For The Buck.

The eight categories were weighted differently and are sub-headlined by ESPN the Magazine’s description of each:

Title Track – 3.6%
-Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans

Ownership – 10.2%
-Honesty and loyalty to core players and to the community

Coaching – 3.1%
-Strength of on-field leadership

Players – 11.3%
-Effort on the field, likability off it

Fan Relations – 25.2%
-Courtesy of players, coaches and front office towards fans and how well a team uses technology to reach them

Affordability – 17.4%
-Price of tickets, parking and concessions

Stadium Experience – 12.4%
-Quality of venue, fan-friendliness of environment, frequency of game-day promotions

Bang For The Buck – 16.8%
-Wins in the past two years per fan dollar, adjusted for league schedules

The top five franchises were:
1 – Memphis Grizzlies
2 – San Antonio Spurs
3 – Indiana Pacers
4 – Oklahoma City Thunder
5 – Green Bay Packers

The bottom five franchises were:
118 – Phoenix Suns
119 – Toronto Maple Leafs
120 – Miami Marlins
121 – New York Jets
122 – Sacramento Kings

Los Angeles market franchises:
8 – Anaheim Ducks
24 – Los Angeles Kings
51 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
55 – Los Angeles Clippers
56 – Los Angeles Dodgers
77 – Los Angeles Lakers

Here’s an abbreviated feature that contains exactly where the Kings ranked in each category. At the time of this post, there was a glitch on the ESPN.com page that would not allow the table to be sorted and ranked by category.

Some brief observations:

-Not that I’m an Memphis Grizzlies Insider, but there’s a flaw in the rankings if a franchise that was 0-12 all-time in the playoffs heading into the 2010 postseason (and was once the Vancouver Grizzlies) tops the list. I am aware that a team’s winning legacy doesn’t account for the meat of a team’s placement on the list, but Memphis made it out of the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history in 2013.

-“Bang For The Buck” and “Affordability” sees some overlap in their description and combine for 34.2% of the criteria that teams were graded on. These similar categories carry too much weight. As a result, you see NHL teams such as the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks – two teams with among the lowest ticket prices in the league, according to the 2013 Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index – finish near the top of NHL franchise rankings, while the Toronto Maple Leafs finished last amongst NHL teams. According to the Fan Cost Index, an average ticket to a Maple Leafs game was a league-high $124.69 last season.

-The Kings graded highest in the Coaching and Fan Relations categories. They actually led all NHL teams in coaching and finished third in fan relations.The Kings graded lowest in affordability, which struck me as misleading because the average ticket last season cost $61.36, which is only 35 cents above the league average. If not for the affordability outlier, the Kings would have been ranked in the upper teens or the very low 20’s amongst all NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL franchises. The Kings ended up in between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Heat. Take that, LeBron!

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