Why Are NFL Fans Staying Home?

by James

“Why Rising Ticket Prices and Technology Lead NFL Fans to Stay Home” is a nice little article on the DailyBeast.com on how technology is contributing to the steady decline in live game attendance.

This might be cause for concern with other sports, but this particular beast is the NFL and they’re only, in the words of an NFL spokesperson, “…competing with ourselves.” That statement, along with the fact that TV viewership is up 15% (from 5 years ago) only confirms that the NFL is indeed more popular than ever. It’s just that instead of going to the games, many fans are simply doing the couch potato thing.

The question here is why? According to the article, “Economists and sports buffs are at odds as to what has caused the shift from the thrill of the stadium to the comfort of a couch or bar.” “The at-home experience continues to get better.” “(The fans) are watching games on their 50-inch HD monitors, they have access to NFL.com… there is NFL Redzone…”

Hmmm… the article is presumably about the average fan, the average person. It’s said that by 2015, the average size TV in American households will be 60” but for now it’s 38”, not 50. Also I would think that the average fan likes to watch a full broadcast live, which you can’t do with NFL .com nor NFL RedZone.

So even if the average NFL fan had a man-cave or sports den equipped with a 50” HDTV and a $300 subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket, is that really enough to forego that many games?

While watching from the warm, safe comfort of your own home does have its perks, ask yourself this: can any home experience ever match the adrenaline rush that comes from being at the game or the electric atmosphere that’s generated by 60,000+ fans?

The bottom line is this: if the cost of watching the game on TV was the same as seeing it live which would you rather do? I’d be willing to bet that most fans would go live.

The facts are, over the last decade:
• New and modern NFL stadiums have been built that are cleaner and more comfortable.
• The stadiums have become more fan-friendly with features such as huge HD screens & wi-fi access.
• The on-field product has improved in the sense that the league has become more competitive overall.
• The NFL is more popular than ever.

Yet despite all this, attendance is down and will continue to drop unless the NFL owners take some cues from NASCAR and start offering discounts and package deals.

The reason is obvious and it doesn’t take an economist to see that.

The Why Rising Ticket Prices and Technology Lead NFL Fans to Stay Home article by Miranda Green can be seen here.

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