Three of the four playoff games this weekend required last minute intervention from sponsors to avoid being blacked out on TV in local markets due to unsold tickets. I just saw that for the BCS Championship tonight tickets are listed for below face value on StubHub. The average ticket for the BCS Championship is listed for $800, about 50% lower than each of the last two years. Cite.
While TV ratings for the NFL continue to grow, attendance has slowly been dropping. “Slowly” may be a misnomer, as NFL teams report tickets sold rather than people through the gates as official attendance. 11 teams reported attendance of 100% or more of capacity for 2013, and seven more were at 98 or 99%.
I think the TV experience has improved so vastly in the last decade (some of it driven by the NFL itself) that the live atmosphere just isn’t worth it anymore. It costs $100 between tickets and parking just to get in the stadium, and food and beverage prices are ridiculous once there. Then you have late fall and winter weather in large parts of the country that can be brutal (see Green Bay’s cold and Cincinnati’s downpour yesterday) that makes a seat in the recliner in front of the HDTV a really good deal. I can buy a six pack of good local beer, chips, and dip for what two lite beers at the game would cost me. I can also watch every game if desired from a variety of viewpoints, see multiple replays and keep track of my fantasy team at the same time. I also don’t have to deal with drunken and rowdy fans, or traffic before and after the game.
Football is the most susceptible to attendance issues because they have huge stadiums and the games are set up to be TV events. Sunday afternoon games when most people are off work are a lot easier to schedule time for than are weeknight games when the kids need to be fed and homework done and bed gotten into at a reasonable hour.
I like the live atmosphere at a game and will go when the opportunity arises, but I have absolutely no desire to invest in season tickets for football. I’d end up skipping half the games. Stadiums keep on pouring more money into bigger and clearer video screens, higher levels of service (“club level” seating) and wireless service to devices, but prices keep going up for everything. I’d be more likely to respond to the same old seats but cheaper food and drink, or even free food for kids. $15M for a new video screen would buy a lot of kids a lot of hot dogs and a lot of good will from their parents.