The NFL Just Plain Gets It

Eggy doesn’t show up here anymore so I can tell you that I am in Las Vegas without pissing anyone off 🙂

Anyways. Recall my post earlier this week about how shitty the in game production of the Toronto Blue Jays and how I think HD is killing pro sports? Well- here in the good ol US of A the McPaper- the USA Today is given out free at most hotels and u’ll never guess what today’s cover story was about- No, not the President’s speech last night- that too was on the front page, but the cover story was about how NFL teams are having to deal with the fact that staying home is just too damn attractive to the common fan:

” When the NFL kicks off the 2010 season next week, about 1 million fans will turn out to watch games in stadiums across the nation.

And in their living rooms, an average of 16 million fans will gather to watch each of the 16 opening-weekend games in what has become the golden age for NFL consumption.

That’s because of big-screen, high-definition TVs, surround-sound systems, channels that allow viewers to watch multiple games at the same time and check on players’ stats, and the NFL’s RedZone Channel — a commercial-free, subscription-based channel that cuts to the most exciting game at anytime.

Together, such innovations during the past decade — driven in part by the NFL’s efforts to expand its reach as the most popular professional sports enterprise — have made the at-home experience better, and cheaper, than going to a stadium for many.

At-home viewing has become so attractive that the NFL — mindful of a 2.4% drop in attendance last season, the second consecutive year with a small decline — is increasingly concerned about making sure that fans consider trips to the stadium to be worth the effort.

It’s a significant challenge: The average cost to take a family of four to an NFL game was $413 in 2009. Throw in traffic jams, misbehaving fans, long lines for expensive concessions and the possibility of bad weather, and it’s not difficult to see why the league’s TV viewership exploded last season to its highest level since 1990.

“They make it mighty attractive to just be at home on a fall Sunday,” says Jody Males, 38, of Pittsburgh. “It’s one of those deals where you’re perfectly content just to sit at the couch and access the stuff they throw at you.”

Sound familiar????? This, sports fans is a big problem and if the NFL is suffering, the National Football league, the greatest marketing game on earth then we have a big problem in the other leagues. The good news is that the fine folks at the NFL get it and are already making adjustments:

“Many teams are getting aggressive about Goodell’s directive to make trips to stadiums more appealing.

They are offering handheld mobile units and smartphone applications that deliver replays, the RedZone Channel, broadcasts of other games, fantasy stats and other information exclusively to fans inside the stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys set a new standard with a massive overhead HD video board that was unveiled last year at the team’s new $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The New York Jets and Giants opened a shared, $1.6 billion stadium with HD boards this season, and the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins installed giant HD boards this year that cost millions of dollars and will offer fans not just live action and replays but also the RedZone Channel.

The Ravens are among several teams wiring their stadium so fans can use Wi-Fi with their cellphones.

Meanwhile, some teams are testing mobile units that will allow fans to see replays and other games from their seats.

The Patriots are among the teams trying a free smartphone application called YinzCam that fans in club seats can access via a Wi-Fi network. The Miami Dolphins use a handheld unit called FanVision that they distribute to season ticketholders.”

Here is Toronto, perhaps the largest cellular carrier could find away to add in some ingenuity to our baseball club. Anyone think that perhaps someone at Rogers could find a person to talk to at the Dome, or the Jays to offer up a solution??????

In reality, here is all you need to know:

“There’s no reason a fan should feel they’re going to miss anything by going to a game live,” says Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s vice president for digital media.”

That’s the 1 million dollar answer. The question, as far as I’m concerned is, do the powers that be at the NHL, MLB and NBA believe the same thing??????

So far, the answer is a very simple no. At least if you look at our Toronto teams.

“Today, however, the stadium experience has become a tough sell for some fans. Chicago resident Rich Rahn, 64, a former season ticketholder of the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders, says he now avoids stadiums.

“I’m 10 feet away from five screens,” he says of his living room setup. “It’s so much better than paying $65 and up for a ticket. I’ve just lost the enthusiasm to go out and sit in the crowd when I know I could be sitting in front of my TVs and enjoying it much better.”

I don’t want to beat the dead horse- but it was good to see this story so prominently displayed. I wish someone in Toronto sports was paying attention.

The USA Today story on the nfl dealing with improving the stadium experience is here

BTW- come on sports fans, give me some can’t lose bets….



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