After spending 56 seasons in San Diego, the Chargers announced Thursday that they were moving the franchise 120 miles up the road to Los Angeles. There, they’ll join the Rams as L.A.’s second NFL franchise — and the Chargers might just have more fans in town than their new neighbors from the get-go.
Using data from Google Trends for the five years leading up to the Rams’ announced move last year,1 Angelenos performed about 11 web searches for the (San Diego) Chargers for every search they conducted about the (St. Louis) Rams. Here are those numbers, indexed so that the average NFL team (in terms of L.A.-area search traffic) received a score of 1.00:
That disparity is glaring, but maybe not quite surprising. The Rams had the NFL’s sixth-worst winning percentage from the 2011 to 2015 seasons, so they’re not a team non-local fans would necessarily tend to search for. (For the Chargers’ part, they had the NFL’s 14th-worst record.) The Rams’ futility carried over to its relationship with L.A. locals this year. In addition to the team’s on-field struggles — L.A. lost 11 of its final 12 games after a surprise 3-1 start — the Rams had trouble drawing fans to cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They didn’t fare much better at home: there was somehow a decrease in L.A.-area NFL TV ratings this season as compared with 2015 (when the city didn’t even have an NFL franchise).2 Even last year, after the Rams showed up, people in L.A. still searched for the Chargers more.
The Chargers, in contrast, are already half-decent and relatively close to L.A., so they should start out with more pre-existing interest in their new home than the comparatively far-flung Rams had. Now it’s up to them to capitalize on it.
FiveThirtyEight: Using data to find a new NFL team
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