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NFL Banking on Cheerleader Visits, Gimmicky Perks to Retain Season-Ticket Holders

Miami Dolphins v Atlanta FalconsThe NFL experience is significantly better watching from your sofa than it is attending games, and the League knows this, so it’s (still) tinkering with gimmicky ideas to keep fans coming to the stadium. Official attendance numbers are only down 3% since 2007, but all sports cook those numbers, so it’s probably much more significant.

(College football is going through the same thing, but for different reasons.)

The latest ploys to get you to the game, via Ad Week: Teams are going all-in on an app that can send cheerleaders to your seats and provide other bells and whistles to (hopefully) make you tell all your friends!

The Dallas Cowboys will join close to a dozen NFL teams using the Experience app this season. The app allows fans to order experiences “you used to have to be a VIP to get access to,” says Experience president Ben Ackerman. For example, a Falcons fan last season used his points to upgrade his family’s seats, place his son in the tunnel for player introductions and photograph his daughter with the mascot. He topped it off by wishing his wife “Happy Birthday” on the Jumbotron.

And don’t forget …

And so the league and teams are sprucing up the in-stadium experience by cracking down on abusive fans through its “Fan Code of Conduct,” showing RedZone highlights on Jumbotrons and improving WiFi reception so fans can stay connected via smartphones.

This is the part I can’t get past, that the League can’t do anything about: In an NFL game, there are 11 minutes of game action. That’s it. So you’re talking about sitting through a 3-hour game, possibly surrounded by drunks, to watch 11 minutes of action. Toss in jacked up food/beer costs, the cost to park, the parking lot to leave … so maybe as much as 4+ hours out of your day to watch one game.

And that’s while around 10-12 other games are on at the same time. MLB is regional; NBA is player driven; NFL is national.

I was fortunate enough to have (four) season tickets to the Jets last year. I attended two of the games – win against the Bills, win against the Patriots – and gave the other six games away to friends/readers. I definitely had fun at both games (and didn’t see any fights, but a couple lame ejections), especially since they left. And yup, I bolted as early as possible (Jets won on a field goal in overtime) to beat the rush.

But I was frequently on my phone monitoring the other games for gambling and fantasy purposes. The scoreboard in the stadium wasn’t enough; I wanted to know what exactly was going on. At halftime, mobs hovered around TVs to watch the other games.

And here’s the nerdiest thing I did – I recorded Red Zone when I was gone. When I got home I sped through it, occasionally on fast forward. Yes, I did that while watching Sunday Night Football – well, the few minutes of action there was on SNF.

Related: Despite Insane Popularity and Profitability, NFL Football No Longer Enough to Fill NFL Stadiums
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Related: A Modest Proposal to Reform the NFL Preseason

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