Cleveland Browns are the most optimistic ticket-buying fans in the NFL ahead of the 2019 season, according to a new index published by StubHub.

The eBay-owned operator’s analytics division has created a Fan Optimism Index which compares the difference between the number of wins that fans are expecting their respective teams to have in 2019, based on their ticket-buying behaviour, and the odds offered on their teams’ chances of victory. The higher the index number, the higher the optimism.

StubHub said that while the bookies’ over/under projections are strongly correlated with actual eventual results, fan buying behaviour is not, as they continue to buy despite regularly being defeated.

The operator said: “The index proves that there is so much more to fans attending games than wins. It’s fan camaraderie, team history, city loyalty, unique stadium traditions and the hope that this year is finally ‘the year’.

“For fans, the overall experience of going to a game often outweighs the actual outcome. It goes to show that the most optimistic fans don’t necessarily need results to support their favourite team, they just need hope.”

Cleveland Browns are top of the chart with an optimism index of 6, with Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins completing the top three.

The Browns have a 16-year playoff drought, which is the longest in the NFL, but a few offseason moves and a new head coach could well be behind fans optimistically snapping up tickets ahead of the start of the season in September.

The Browns went 7–8–1 in 2018 – a big improvement on their horrific 0-16 in 2017.

The index was created by Ben Alamar, a former ESPN analyst and current head of analytics at StubHub.

“There is a unique challenge in devising a formula to show something as immeasurable as fan expectation,” said Alamar.

“A fan’s demand for tickets to experience their favourite NFL team live increases with the fan’s belief that his or her team is going to win games. The higher the index, the more wins expected by fans – and the higher the optimism.”