Kentucky Blog - College

A new study has come out that says Louisville basketball fans are "better" than Kentucky basketball fans, and the internet is generally expecting Wildcat fans to flip out.

The top spot belongs to Louisville. At No. 7 is Kentucky, with a host of other dominant, high-major programs in between.

I wouldn't go for it.

Because "better" is, as always, a subjective term, and this study's definition of "better" is on even looser ground.

The basis of the study: See which schools' revenue streams from merchandise sales are the most independent of on-court success.

Essentially, who keeps bringing in profits regardless of the actual basketball product.

For our College Basketball Fan Equity analysis we use a "Revenue Premium" method. The intuition of this approach is that fan base quality is reflected in a school's men's basketball revenue relative to the team's performance. To accomplish our analysis, we use a statistical model that predicts team revenues as a function of the team's performance, as measured by winning rates and post season success. The key insight is that when a team achieves revenues that greatly exceed what would be expected based on team performance, it is an indication of significant brand equity. The analysis therefore avoids bandwagon effects and gets at the core loyal fan bases.

Is there some value in filtering out how success impacts merchandise sales? Sure. But there are also plenty of variables that can influence this equation, from pricing to demographics. I could easily propose this alternative conclusion from the same data: If a school's merchandise sales are least impacted by performance, couldn't that mean it's fans don't celebrate success enough?

This study might mean Louisville fans purchase with less dependence on the actual quality of their team.

Doesn't necessarily mean it makes them any better, though.

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