Buzz and Marketability Scoring the NFL’s Top Quarterbacks

Buzz and Marketability Scoring the NFL’s Top Quarterbacks

A good quarterback does more than just run the offense and lead the team, he brings some caché—both to marketers and to fans. Among NFL QBs, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Donovan McNabb hold the highest N-Scores, Nielsen’s measure of marketability created in tandem with E-Poll. However, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers garnered the most buzz online since last September. Michael Vick was the hands down most buzzed about, with 16.3 percent of all quarterback buzz.

And an oft-discussed quarterback can lead (or follow) his team to buzz dominance as well. Half of the top 10 quarterbacks by N-Score were on the top 10 teams with the most buzz; however, there are a number of players and teams where no connection appears. Tony Romo garnered slightly higher than the median quarterback buzz (1.8%) while the Dallas Cowboys were one of the most buzzed about teams with 5.8 percent of all online buzz mentions. Incidentally, the Cowboys also had the most unique visitors to their website on average.

High awareness of a player—as captured through the N-Score—can also be indicative of a player’s buzz. For players like the Eagles’ Michael Vick and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, their awareness and buzz are both high—yet their N-Score, which takes into account traits such as likeability, down-to-earth and talented—reflects negative public reaction to their activity off the field (13 and 16, respectively). Besides Matt Hasselbeck, all of the top 10 quarterbacks by N-Score received high online buzz.

Top 10 NFL Quarterbacks by National N-score
Player 2010 Team

(2011 Team)

National N-Score Awareness Share of QB Buzz Team Buzz
Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts 262 49% 5.8% 3.4%
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints 166 24 2.7 4.2
Donovan McNabb Washington Redskins

(Minnesota Vikings)

153 29 2.3 2.1
Tom Brady New England Patriots 131 35 4.8 4.8
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers 119 20 3.6 3.6
Brett Farve Minnestoa Vikings (Retired) 108 48 7.5 5.2
Eli Manning New York Giants 105 33 1.8 6.2
Tim Tebow Denver Broncos 41 19 3.6 2.8
Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons 24 9 2.2 3.0
Matt Hasselbeck* Seattle Seahawks (Tennessee Titans) 21 12 0.1 1.4
Sam Bradford* St. Louis Rams 21 10 1.6 1.4
Read as: Peyton Manning had a National N-score of 262, and accounted for 5.8% of all buzz about NFL Quarterbacks during the 2010 season through the August 2011.

Note: Team Buzz describes online buzz about each player’s 2010 season team.

Source: Nielsen

Players with lesser awareness can also become buzz generators online. Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez, who were nationally known by just four and 16 percent of the population, respectively, had a tremendous amount of player buzz—higher than three percent of all quarterback buzz. Sanchez may benefit from his association with the Jets, the NFL’s most buzzed about team.

“Buzz for the NFL has ramped up this summer as the lockout-shortened off season created a flurry of trades and free agent signings that gave fans plenty to talk about. We’re closely watching to see how all of this excitement in August translates to TV ratings in September. Roughly 18 million Americans tuned in to nationally broadcast NFL games, on average, during the 2010-2011 season,” said Stephen Master, Vice President, Sports for Nielsen.

Masters continued, “It will be interesting to see how fans respond to controversial players, such as Michael Vick, this season. His strong performance on the field was rewarded with a $100 million contract, but he’s still a polarizing figure nationally with a higher than average number of Americans expressing dislike for him, according to the N-Score.”


Using the combined research expertise of Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, N-Score is an in-depth look at a sports figure’s overall endorsement potential, factoring in the attributes and demographic measures that align brands with endorsers.  Each individual N-Score National survey is administered to 1,100 people within that panel via the Internet. The sample is representative of the general population based on gender, income, age, and education. Awareness, as noted in the Wire post above, is determined by showing half of the survey participants a picture of the athlete and half the athlete’s name.