This is what happens when you make your sport a sellout for broadcast interests.
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.”
And how ironic is the proposed solution? Pretty damned so.
In hopes that professional football can mimic the wild stadium atmosphere typical of college football games, the NFL says it has “liberalized” its restraints on crowd noise. Stadiums will now be free to rile up crowds with video displays, and public-address announcers will no longer be restrained from inciting racket when the opposing offense faces a crucial third down. [Emphasis added.]
Because we all know that PA-generated hype is the soul of what makes the college football experience.
The NFL has spent years making its game less and less fan friendly, because as long as the TV money kept rolling in, it didn’t matter. Life’s a bitch when the consequences start catching up with you. And after years of ignoring their fans who are ticket holders, what makes NFL suits think they’re smart enough now to cater to them? Judging from the above, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a successful answer to that question.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear geniuses like Larry Scott talk about how following the NFL model makes sense. This is your future, college football fans. Cherish the hell out of it.