The world’s glitziest annual sporting event is here. To its global audience, Super Bowl 57 is about commercials, Rihanna and extravagance – but for sports fans, particularly Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles fans, there’s a game of football to be played.
The two-week lead up to the Super Bowl is a frenzy of media storylines and speculation. This edition contained many, including the first time two black quarterbacks have started in the game, brothers Jason and Travis Kelce competing against each other, and former Eagles Head Coach Andy ‘Big Red’ Reid now patrolling the Chiefs sideline.
But what are the fans talking about? As Relative Insight’s adopted team following the opening of our Philadelphia office, we’re excited to see if the Eagles can take home the Vince Lombardi trophy. How far does that translate to wider conversation from Eagles fans? Are Chiefs fans just as excited, or has sustained success made this ‘just another Super Bowl’ for them?
To find out, we turned to text analysis. We used a social listening tool to gather online conversations from both sets of fans over the fortnight between championship Sunday and Super Bowl 57. Once we had the data, we uploaded it to the Relative Insight audience research platform for analysis.
By assessing the varying topics, phrases, words, grammar and emotions contained within each fanbase’s discussions, we were able to unravel not just what they say, but why they say it – offering greater insight into how each audience communicates. Despite both being loyal followers of NFL teams, Chiefs and Eagles fans showcased differing priorities and tendencies in their pre-Super Bowl discussions.
Eagles fans look to the future; Chiefs fans to the past
While both sets of fans are eager for the game to begin, their focus on the time periods around it differ greatly.
The presence of long-tenured veterans has Eagles fans wondering if this could be the last time they watch them play. They used the words ‘retirement’ 19.3x more and ‘retire’ 4.0x more, relating to team leaders Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox. Despite appearing in the Super Bowl being a joyous moment, supporters are looking to how the team can sustain success, as opposed to the decline it suffered after its win in 2018.
“Be prepared, if we win a lot of this team is probably gonna retire.“
For Chiefs fans who have experienced sustained success, it’s about dealing with the jealousy which this creates. They focused on other fans’ reactions to their AFC Championship victory over the Bengals, particularly criticism relating to officiating controversy in the game.
They were 42.5x more likely to use the word ‘rigged’, complaining that opposing fans were using this as an excuse for the Chiefs’ success. KC supporters were also 1.3x more likely to use words relating to the emotion ‘dislike’. This consisted of the words ‘hate’ (1.5x) and ‘hated’ (2.3x), referring to what opposing fans thought of them.
“I just wish we got a few more championships out of it before everyone hated us.“
The overindexing of Chiefs fans discussing others’ hatred for them is surprising, given historically it’s Eagles fans who’ve had this reputation – to the point that the team even sells merchandise with the slogan: ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’.
Differing activities for each fanbase
Each set of supporters discussed the pre- and post-Super Bowl activities they were going to engage in and, frankly, they couldn’t be more different.
Chiefs followers continued their focus on opposing fans by talking about memes they were going to send to Eagles fans ahead of the game. They talked about ‘memes’ 4.1x more and the topic of social media 2.0x more. However, this meme trash talking was intended as friendly rivalry, rather than anything more charged (as opposed to their interactions with Bengals fans).
“I like Eagles fans, they are nuts! Honestly they will get some memes and they will be high quality, but we aren’t a terrible fan base.“
Once again, Eagles fans were less concerned with trash talking in the build up and more focused on the future – planning on what they’d do if their team won. True to form, this involved climbing light poles. They were 11.4x more likely to use the word ‘climbing’ and infinitely more likely to talk about ‘grease’ – a reference to Philadelphia authorities greasing light poles in an attempt to stop people climbing them.
“No amount of grease would stop me from climbing that pole.“
Both sets of fans have novel approaches to activities surrounding the games, with Chiefs fans focusing on digital efforts and Eagles supporters discussing more physical actions.
Views on the Super Bowl itself
Our audience research found that each group of fans talked about the game itself very differently too.
Kansas City Chiefs supporters focused on the game as a spectacle. They were 4.0x more likely to talk about it being a ‘great game’, discussed the prospect of it being a ‘good game’ 2.8x more and were infinitely more likely to say that the clash was between the ‘two best teams’ in the NFL this season.
“I’m honestly just hyped about this game, I truly feel like the two best teams in the league made it and I’m hyped about it.“
Philadelphia Eagles fans were far more analytical in their conversations – something which our previous research has illustrated. Much of the discussion was focused on each team’s keys to victory, particularly along the line of scrimmage. They were 3.4x more likely to talk about ‘blocking’ and infinitely more likely to discuss the ‘defensive line’ and ‘best pass rushers’.
“Guys I think with Mahomes being hurt and how tenacious this defensive line is, we’re gonna make life miserable for him.“
These discussion points mirror how both teams’ strategies. The Chiefs want superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes to make spectacular plays, while the Eagles invest in offensive and defensive linemen who grind down the opposition.
Fans of the same sport, yet different focuses
Despite Chiefs and Eagles fans being followers of the same sport, talking about the same Super Bowl, our audience research has highlighted just how differently they talk about them.
For Kansas City Chiefs followers, their primary focus is on entertainment, although that doesn’t preclude them from trash talking opposing fans – in the form of memes. Perhaps a sign of the team’s continued success, they’re more likely to focus on what came before, rather than the team’s post-Super Bowl prospects.
Conversely, Philadelphia Eagles supporters worry this could be the final game for several key players. Given this potential curtain call for several team leaders, fans are far more focused on what it takes to win the game, while they’re also planning how to celebrate if the team does come away with victory.
Through text analysis, we’ve uncovered just some of the different themes emerging from fan conversations in the Super Bowl build up. To see how you can use text data to understand different audience segments, request a demo of the Relative Insight audience analysis platform now.