With extensive programming and advertising dollars focused specifically on promoting NFL TV programming, it is becoming more difficult for teams to draw fans into the stadium. Attendance fell for four straight years from 2008 – 2011, and dropped by over 2 million fans in the past 3 years. Additionally, in 1998, ESPN administered a survey where 54% of fans said that they would rather go to a game than watch it at home. In 2011, that number dropped to 29%. Finally, out of $9.5 billion in revenues, $5 billion come from TV contracts.
Why do fans enjoy the at home experience so much more than the real game? At the game, fans are stuck with watching only the game they are at in real time. At home, they can flip between multiple games, see instant replay, hear commentaries and go to the fridge at any time. They have a complete experience with insight that up until now the stadiums could not compete with. One fan describes the in game experience with frustration as he is “at the event, and [he] has to text a friend or wait for a phone call at halftime from someone to tell [him] what happened” even though he is there live.
However, the NFL required all teams to meet minimum Wi-Fi and cell standards by the end of 2014 to improve the connected, in-game experience. The league is now experimenting with apps, camera angles, replays and exclusive coverage all available through apps. Time will tell whether the high tech stadiums can compete with the ultimate, connected at home experience.
By: Sarah Wright