This is fine.

College football attendance continues to decline.

Major-college football experienced its largest per-game attendance drop in 34 years and second-largest ever, according to recently released NCAA figures.

Attendance among the 129 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in 2017 was down an average of 1,409 fans per game from 2016. That marked the largest drop since 1983 when average attendance declined 1,527 fans per game from 1982.

The 2017 FBS average of 42,203 fans per game is the lowest since 1997.

I knew those players taking a damned knee during the National Anthem… oh, wait.

How about this, then?  Those liberals just don’t appreciate ‘Murica’s greatness like they used to… um, what’s that you say?

Even the most rabid league in the country saw a dip. In 2017, the SEC experienced its sharpest per-game decline — down an average 2,433 fans — since 1992. That figure led the Power Five in fans lost per game in 2017.

While the SEC led all FBS conferences in average attendance for the 20th consecutive year, its average attendance (75,074) was the lowest since 2005. The SEC has slipped an average of 2,926 fans per game (3.7 percent) since a record 78,630 average in 2015.

Well, dayum, Johnny, what’s the problem?

College sports has long been at odds with how to manage the time/value relationship. In other words, how to make attendance at a live event more valuable than the alternatives, which range from remaining at a tailgate outside the venue to viewing on a smartphone while on the go to watching in the comfort of one’s living room.

“It’s a technology issue,” said Wright Waters, Football Bowl Association executive director and former Sun Belt commissioner. “The public is ahead of us every day in what they can get from technology. We have not been able to keep up.”

One former Power Five athletic director called it a “societal shift” leading the powers that be scrambling to figure out the viewing habits of millennials as well as well-heeled alumni.

“This is not surprising to me,” said Bill Lutzen, a veteran sports TV programmer who is currently the CFO of a web optimization firm. “This issue is with lack of involvement of the college students. They no longer view attending sporting events as part of the university experience.”

Gee, you mean there’s a price to pay for crapping all over your fan base?  Who’da thunk it?  Certainly not the geniuses who’ve been selling out the sport to whatever broadcast partner they can find with some cash to spend.  Well played, everyone.

Ordinarily, I’d say it’s something to bring to the attention a certain someone at Butts-Mehre, but he’ll be long gone by the time this particular poo hits the proverbial fan.

Advertisements

74 Comments

Filed under College Football

74 responses to “This is fine.

  1. Bright Idea

    My top 5 reasons. My game-day experience centers on winning even if I have to hold my water for 4 hours.
    1.) every game on TV
    2.) higher ticket prices
    3.) irregular start times
    4.) high price of concessions/parking
    5.) countless commercial and replay timeouts

    Like

    • Uglydawg

      Big screen HD TV
      Stocked refrigerator
      No line when waiting to pee.
      No drive and walk…in rain or heat or freezing cold.
      No drunks.

      Like

  2. bulldogbry

    “While the SEC led all FBS conferences in average attendance for the 20th consecutive year, its average attendance (75,074) was the lowest since 2005.”

    Ironically, the LAST time we won the SEC. Somehow, we’re gonna get blamed for this, aren’t we?

    Like

    • Uglydawg

      It is all tied together. With the conference, esp. the East, bottom heavy.

      Tennessee usually packs in 100K but they are the bottom feeder now. So their attendance would be down..as would UF’s.

      The same reason UGA had a cakewalk to the SECE championship. UT and UF suck and even their fans know it.

      Maybe Tennessee and Vandy can play at Bristol this year. “Bottom Feeders Bowl”..That would help.

      Like

    • But the raw #’s and avg were up at Vandy, Kentucky and USC.

      Like

  3. Cojones

    Senator, didn’t the WWL lose viewers as well? That would signal something other than stadium game experience falling off.

    Like

    • Pretty sure viewership was down. My theory is there are simply way more options than ever before and I think the concussion awareness among Joe Fan is much, much higher than it used to be and it’s having an impact (albeit a small one most likely).

      College teams aren’t protesting like the NFL, so we can’t use that a potential reason like it can for the NFL ratings slide. I think we’re seeing people tune out live TV in general.

      The EPL (English soccer league) just sold its rights in Great Britain for the same rate is it did in the last negotiation window after the previous two windows jumped significantly. I think globally there’s been a push to consume content when people want as opposed to live.

      Like

  4. 3rdandGrantham

    75 inch 4k tv with perfect camera angles, 7 speaker surround, BBQ on the BGE and cooler of beer on deck, perfect weather, no restroom lines or traffic issues, no drunk slob taking up half your seat while cursing explatives at a long departed OC, no cost (other than beer and BBQ), no getting up before dawn for noon games or getting home after midnight for night games, ability to switch to other games during halftime or myriad breaks in action, no worries about drunk driving/drivers…

    Hmm…I can’t possibly figure out why attendance is declining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PTC DAWG

      No live football in 4K as far as I know…YMMV.

      Like

    • Uglydawg

      You needn’t count the cost of BBQ and beer, as you have to eat and drink beer on Saturday, football or no.
      Keep raising prices, keep making tailgating difficult, don’t worry too much about anything except the most spartan stadium improvements for the fans, and keep allowing TV to control the tempo of the game.
      This is the formula for getting people to stay at home.

      Like

  5. Biggus Rickus

    I guess that’s one explanation. Another one might be that the programs most responsible for the dip in 2017 were Arkansas (-6,300), Ole Miss (-6,300), Tennessee (-5,200), Texas A&M (-3,100), and LSU (-2,700). Seeing as all of those coaching situations were tenuous, might I suggest that fan optimism plays a larger role than technology or those damn kids?

    Like

    • There are always programs suffering down years. Don’t see how that explains a trend.

      Like

      • Biggus Rickus

        It’s two years following a record high. I don’t think that’s a trend. And the programs who have been both good and stable haven’t dipped (unless you’re fretting over a few hundred at Auburn).

        Like

        • Sorry… I was talking about the general trend in CFB.

          But on the SEC, I assume there have always been programs that have suffered through poor seasons, so why are we seeing a dip now and not before?

          Like

          • Biggus Rickus

            I think it ebbs and flows, and we saw a peak right before a whole lot of things happened to reduce attendance at a lot of programs all at once. Missouri’s campus problems followed by a coaching change in 2015 killed 2016, and they haven’t recovered. A&M fan expectations were on a decline, so we saw a year to year decline in both 2016 and 2017 there. Florida fans like offense, and the end of the 2015 season was brutal for them, so a decline for them in both 2016 and 2017. Ole Miss went up between 2015 and 2016, then plummeted again with their probation. I can go on, but I think if you analyze each situation individually you don’t get a simple answer about the state of modern college football. There’s no obvious reason for attendance not to rebound everywhere but maybe Missouri.

            Like

          • Otto

            The SEC as a whole had a bit of down year. Look at how terrible Florida and Tennessee were when was the last time both UT and UT didn’t make a bowl?

            I would also argue the playoff has devalued the regular season resulting lower attendance.

            Like

    • Biggus Rickus

      In case you’re wondering about the dip from 2015 to 2016, the major dips belonged to Missouri (nearly -13,000!), Kentucky (-7,600, which I don’t understand. Am I missing something about 2015 Kentucky?) and Florida (-2,200).

      Like

    • Schools regularly report student tickets as sold out even when the students don’t show up. How does BM convince the kids to wake up early for the likes of Austin Peay? Intimidation of course! The school can track if you do (or don’t) use your student tickets because they are 100% electronic and tied to the student’s personal ID card. If you don’t show up for games you can lose the rest of the season. This has the added benefit of allowing all resales to flow through BM, because most students are not keen on just giving their student ID to a stranger.

      So now you get the students walk over to the game when the gates open, scan their tickets and then walk back out to go back home/downtown. Those seats remain empty, even if there was another student that maybe would have gone (Particularly for games like that when students likely would just give them away).

      This obviously applies to students and not the rest of us, but just one example of how It’s not just technology.

      Like

      • Uglydawg

        How to fix this.
        All un-scanned student tickets go on sale for 10 bucks apiece five minutes after kickoff.
        A standby buyer gets if for ten bucks.
        If the student shows up in say 15 minutes, he gets another no-show’s ticket if there are any left.
        After 20 minutes, the tardy student has to get in the stand by line and pay 10 bucks like the other standbys.
        None of this effects the student’s future ticket status.
        But it will piss off scalpers.
        Amazing stuff can be accomplished with technology.
        Would this work?

        Like

  6. MDDawg

    That last quote basically reads like “It’s those damned kids!” to me.

    Like

    • The college student drop-off is pretty concerning . I simply don’t understand how you could live in Athens, have access to season tickets for apx $50 and still not attend the games.

      For others, a lot of the problem is the total cost to do it “right.” Nobody wants to tailgate 1.5miles from a stadium. (so you pay out the — for parking). People would love to recreate the college weekend experience but not at $400+ per night for a room. So the all-in cost for a good experience becomes expensive and the “do-it-on-the-cheap” option ends up being kind of a pain in the rear that isn’t all that cheap.

      Like

      • Bogart Double Dawg

        As a many year financial supporter of the “Dawg House” by Joe Purcell in Athens, that distance isn’t bad. We have a bus (a short bus…no comments there please) that takes us to the stadium and picks us up. Best tailgating there is, tvs bathrooms and a kitchen. Look it up and you’ll probably get an invite. That’s the fun you can have here..,

        Like

    • Yeah – that rubbed me the wrong way. Rather than figuring out how to engage your customers, let’s just blame the kids because they and adults our own age don’t consume content the exact way we believe they should.

      Like

  7. Debby Balcer

    To me TV is a poor substitute for being in the stadium but if they keep upping the prices we will end up watching at home too.

    Like

  8. The other Doug

    “This issue is with lack of involvement of the college students. They no longer view attending sporting events as part of the university experience.”

    I remember a few years ago there was a heated discussion on this blog about whether all the students who want tickets should get tickets and if the student section should be close to the field. Now, we are seeing the results of not engaging the students.

    Like

    • Russ

      The results of not engaging the students, along with dropping TV viewers leading to less TV revenue, will change the sport. Add CTE and it doesn’t bode well for the long term future.

      Like

      • Otto

        The students are not just not interested in College, it goes back to High School. I went to see my Nephew’s school play my Mother’s and Grandfather’s High School in the playoffs. It was the 1st time for my Nephew’s school to make the playoffs in their ~20 year history. Attendance was about the same a a typical home game from my time in school and my school never stood a chance of making the playoffs back in the 90s when I was there.

        The model for College is going to have to change in the coming decades. I also believe fantasy leagues are keeping the NFL rating up which will eventually change.

        Like

        • Otto

          *interested in College football

          Like

          • Russ

            Yep, I agree Otto. It’s just not “must see” like it was when we were in college. It happened to baseball, and it will happen to football.

            Like

        • playmakers in space

          High school football has nothing to do with college football viewership, IMO. I couldn’t give a shit about HS ball when I was there (I didn’t choose the school), but I was a RABID CFB fan when I arrived in Athens (I grew up a UGA fan).

          Like

  9. dawgxian

    ‪If you don’t see the effect of the players protesting idiots getting themselves shot by cops during the anthem, you are living in a bubble. It’s not just stats. I know multiple people who won’t nothing to do with the NFL and refused to watch the Super Bowl. I’ve never seen anything like this

    Like

  10. Granthams replacement

    The Masters has a pretty good model that the conferences should replicate.

    Like

  11. ATL Dawg

    The decline of football started a few years back.

    I feel sorry for people who think their Hartman Fund points are going to be worth a shit in 20-30 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gaskilldawg

      As my Hartman Fund points go up and up the out of town and postseason games I qualify for go down and down. The only value of my Hartman points right now is I keep the seats I like and a free media guide. You could say your 20 year projection is closer than you think.

      Like

    • Yes – we hit peak football right around 2010/2011. It had nowhere to go but down. It will be a long slow slide but something could speed it up. Concussion and health issues most prominently.

      Like

  12. Hogbody Spradlin

    College football programs having to rethink and retrench to woo back live attendance. Whoda thunk it?

    Like

    • Napoleon BonerFart

      I don’t know about that. It seems they’ve noticed the dip and responded with the same ole same ole. MOAR WIFI!!!1!1

      Like

      • Hogbody Spradlin

        Oh I definitely think it’ll be the better part of a decade before we see seats being widened, cushioned, and/or removed, or any other sea change attempting to draw fans back. But it has happened. See Trade School, North Avenue, circa early 80’s.

        Like

  13. SlawDawg

    Could this have anything to do with the rising number of neutral site games rather than strictly on-campus match ups? The Benz – for example – (and the Dome before it) has a smaller seating capacity than quite a few SEC stadiums. Alabama/FSU opening this year in Atlanta missed out on a few thousand attendees in Tallahassee (~80,000 capacity) and tens of thousands in Tuscaloosa (~100,000 capacity). The $$$ must be better than the crowd.

    Like

  14. DawgPhan

    Even with the recent price hike for disney tickets I can still get in the gate of the magic kingdom for less than the price of a decent UGA ticket. At disney there will be no shortage of people to help make my experience great. At a UGA game I will be explaining to my son why the young man leaving the bathroom only has one shirt sleeve and there is shit all over the bathroom wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reipar

      That is odd. Your price comment indicates you have the best seat in the stadium but your bathroom comment indicates you are in the student section.

      Like

    • Cojones

      I told’em that people would buy Disney tickets instead if they didn’t put a urinal trough off the top back of the North stands that flows sideways and down to the two bathrooms there. Think of the view of downtown Athens while relieving yourself. Or maybe just a small shelter built onto the side of the Skyboxes that flows into their bathroom.

      Hell, no one listens to anyone suggesting the pleasures of outdoor peeing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cojones

      What was your explanation – careless shitter who had to use his shirtsleeve to wipe?

      Like

  15. Bob

    Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMass, Vandy, Tennessee, Auburn, Ga Tech. Not sure much more needs be said. And our schedule is similar to most others…unfortunately.

    Like

  16. Aladawg

    So let’s go ahead and raise the price on those attend, make em crap in porta pots, stand in long lines for overpriced concessions and make em park on Mars so they don’t mess up campus for 6-7 days a year. Of course we aren’t surprised we we treat em like hamburger.

    Like

    • Biggus Rickus

      Georgia’s attendance hasn’t budged in at least the last four years by the official numbers. It’s sellouts all the way down.

      Like

      • Russ

        I know the tickets get sold and that’s all that counts…for now. I’d like to see the numbers on actual butts in seats. To me, that seems to be the leading indicator of future ticket sales problems. People will pay those Hartman and ticket fees for a few years, even if they aren’t going as much. But at some point it becomes too big of a pain and they drop tickets all together. With less students turning into money-spending young alumni, that’s going to eventually catch up.

        Unfortunately, that’s when the big schools go to the NFL model with fewer, more expensive seats, PSLs, and the rest. Then it becomes a social/business expense rather than a football game.

        Like

  17. Athens Dog

    I’ve opined on this topic for years………the likes of BM can’t see anything but TV revenue and increasing donations. They have no clue that their continued focus on seemingly making it less fun to actually attend a game, will eventually lead to a decline.

    My children are 25 and 23. They were brought up coming to football, basketball, baseball in Athens. I was able to coax them into coming to the National Championship game with me. No other games.

    And the “fan” experience at the Natty was…………….well you know. And that had nothing to do with the outcome.

    That upper deck will be tented over sooner than they expect. I’m much closer to all TV and the younger generation isn’t going to replace us.

    Like

  18. 69Dawg

    Some what on the subject but I was watching the start of Speed Week at Daytona and noticed that as part of their new renovation they had put in seat backs of varying colors mixed it looked like at random so that it was very hard to tell if people were in the seats or they were just empty. If you are going to just have a television production I can see ESPN/The Mouse using special effects to make the fans look real for TV. The fan ticket prices are just chump change now compared with the TV money.

    Like

  19. ChiliDawg

    Yeah somehow the fact that I couldn’t get a full season’s worth of student tickets while I was attending coupled with the university trying to get me to start paying into the Hartman fund before even graduating didn’t really sit well with me.

    Maybe in the future treat your future alumni base like they’re valued by you, not just a resource to be drained.

    Like

    • Bogart Double Dawg

      Have had disagreements with you in the past, if unexpressed, but you are right here. Absolutely right.

      Didn’t realize you were so young though, unless I’m wrong I thought the no season tickets was less than a decade or so old. Of course I could be wrong, wouldn’t be the first or last time.

      Like

      • ChiliDawg

        Class of ’09. They were doing full and half-season packages depending on the number of requests. You know, rather than just fulfilling the student requests for tickets because, hey, we were the students. Nope. Too much money to be made off of others.

        Like

      • ChiliDawg

        By the way thanks for referring to me as “so young.” LOL

        Like

  20. For me, it came down to $$$$. Not going to spend the money to watch crappy teams play, spend way too much time getting there and back, and last but not least, I got tired of the crowds. Call me an old curmudgeon, it would fit, but stay home and spend those $$$ on travel. It is all ones priorities.
    As an aside: years ago I bought Seahawks season ticket. Then they made you pay for the “pre season” games as part of the ticket. Kinda like watching Austin Peay or UW vs Portland State.

    Like

  21. The Georgia Way

    Rest assured, this is not a problem at Georgia.

    All is well.

    #COMMITTOTHEG

    Like

  22. Gaskilldawg

    McDoofus and the rubber stamp board do not care that the current students are the folks who would have to replace ticket buyers such as me. If McDoofus cannot get the students interested in football when it is cheap and convenient then he damn sure won’t get them interested in 10 years when it is a big time and money commitment.
    He does not care because television money will replace ticket money, you say.
    If he doesn’t get them interested in football now they aren’t going to watch it later, and the broadcast value will go down.
    Of course, McDoofus and the current board members will be gone and it will be someone else’s problem.

    Like