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Despite Insane Popularity and Profitability, NFL Football No Longer Enough to Fill NFL Stadiums

The NFL is awesome. Football is awesome. No one denies any of this. Despite that, attendance is lagging and the NFL has been forced to act. Starting this season, the NFL will begin to provide wireless internet in all stadiums, begin showing the same replays that referees watch and even pump in crowd noise that is somehow supposed to replicate the college football experience. Right. From the Wall Street Journal:

With declines in ticket sales each of the past five years, average game attendance is down 4.5% since 2007, while broadcast and online viewership is soaring. The NFL is worried that its couch-potato options—both on television and on mobile devices—have become good enough that many fans don’t see the point of attending an actual game.

“The at-home experience has gotten better and cheaper, while the in-stadium experience feels like it hasn’t,” said Eric Grubman, the NFL’s executive vice president of ventures and business operations. “That’s a trend that we’ve got to do something about.”

They NFL will also change the blackout rules, but I don’t understand how requiring fewer people in the stadium is going to help attendance. For the most part, it’s just superior to stay home. I went to the Jets – Chiefs game last year in New Jersey with a large group of friends and we tailgated and had a great time. Then we went inside, paid for a few $9 beers to keep our drunk buzz alive and sat in the upper level to watch tiny ants in matching laundry run around for three hours. It was a wonderful experience, but I have no plans to do it again anytime soon. Sitting in my living room or a bar is cheaper and safer. While my friends and I escaped without incident, there was at least one assault in the parking lot that day.

There are people that love going to games and I’m not here to judge them or tell them they’re wrong. Tailgating is a tradition and when you have it down to a system, it is great. It just isn’t something I want to do every week and I’m sure there are plenty of other people who would prefer to forgo the ridiculous parking and concession prices in favor of a 12-pack in the fridge and a pizza delivery. Even with free WiFi and a ticket that is $4 less, I think I’ll stay home.

[Wall Street Journal]

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