CHARLOTTE - With rookie quarterback
Newton and his teammates began a tradition of delivering footballs to jubilant fans following touchdowns, and the timing couldn't have been better with the Panthers scoring three times as many touchdowns and winning three times as many games as they had the season before.
Notable numbers away from the field multiplied in kind.
Fan interest in the team saw a significant increase across all mediums, with television ratings as well as the amount of activity at Panthers.com and the team's social media outlets reflecting the excitement the new-look Panthers created.
"With four additional wins this season, I anticipated an uptick in most of our media metrics, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tremendous growth we experienced across the board," said Henry Thomas, Carolina's director of broadcasting and new media. "You've got to give credit to our fans."
Three of the team's four largest television markets recorded the highest ratings ever for a season, with television ratings across the region up an average of 25 percent over the 2010 season.
The Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C. market (up 71 percent from 2010), Greensboro, N.C., market (up 56 percent), and Raleigh, N.C., market (up 41 percent) enjoyed the highest ratings in team history.
The Charlotte market increased its ratings by 14 percent in 2011, and the Panthers game was the top-ranked television show each week in the 22-county Charlotte market. An estimated two million viewers on average watched each Panthers game in North and South Carolina.
The gains weren't limited to television, with the team's official website enjoying big bumps in traffic as well. Panthers.com received 5.28 million visits and 16.55 million pageviews during the season (August through December), a 43-percent increase in visits and 44-percent increase in pageviews versus the same time period in 2010.
Fans also flocked to the team's social media outlets in record numbers. The team entered the new year with about 69,000 Twitter followers – a 431-percent increase from a year earlier – and about 381,000 likes on Facebook, a one-year increase of 161 percent.
Fans attending games at Bank of America next season will have even more ways to get connected from the comfort of their seats, as the team is continuing to work toward offering free Wi-Fi access throughout the stadium. Plans also are in the works for fans in attendance to enjoy an enhanced game-day experience via the team's official mobile app, which has been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its release during the 2011 season.
Stay tuned to Panthers.com for more details.