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Thread: WSJ.Com: Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats

  1. #1
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    WSJ.Com: Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats

    Below is an article on WSJ.com. If you look at the article graphic online (I tried to copy it but it did not come out in the proper format), it says that the Jets had an average of 95.7% of the stadium filled on game day. Average attendance was 78,986 per game. The Giants were only slightly higher at 96.3% or and average of 79,475 per game. What the article does not say is how many seat were given away free (military, charity, etc) for each game.

    Article Link:

    [url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577495083707417526.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories[/url]

    Graphic Link:

    [url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577495083707417526.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories#project%3DNFL062920120629%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive[/url]


    NFL Updated June 29, 2012, 10:21 p.m. ET

    [B][SIZE="4"]Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats[/SIZE][/B]

    By KEVIN CLARK

    Professional football, America's most popular and profitable sport, is preparing to tackle a glaring weakness: Stadiums are increasingly empty.

    As part of sweeping changes designed to give teams more flexibility to fill their seats, the National Football League is watering down its controversial TV "blackout" rule, which restricts local broadcasts for games that aren't sellouts. And this season, for the first time, fans in the stadium will be able to watch the same instant replays the referees see during reviews of controversial calls.


    Fumbling Attendance


    The league also is planning to introduce wireless Internet in every stadium and to create smartphone apps that could let fans listen to players wearing microphones on the field.

    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."

    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.

    The league's decades-old strategy for encouraging people to attend games, the blackout rule, has become counterproductive in some respects. Blackouts were meant to encourage ticket sales, but the strict guidelines are now looking outdated.

    Some teams want freedom to add stadium capacity without risking blackouts. And blackouts are rare anyway, occurring in only 16 of last season's 256 regular-season games, partly because some team owners and sponsors buy up unsold seats to get blackouts lifted.


    Team owners have passed a resolution that starting this season will allow for local broadcasts of NFL games even when as few as 85% of tickets are sold. Under the new rule, each team has more flexibility to establish its own seat-sales benchmark as long as it is 85% or higher. To discourage teams from setting easy benchmarks, teams will be forced to share more of the revenue when they exceed it.

    Because of slumping stadium attendance, long-standing season-ticket waiting lists have disappeared in several cities. Full-season tickets are readily available on the websites of 20 of the league's 32 teams.

    The Indianapolis Colts, who in 2010 had a 16,000-seat waiting list for season tickets, now have 1,900 season tickets available for their first season without star quarterback Peyton Manning. The New York Jets, even though they now feature quarterback Tim Tebow, announced last week they are cutting prices on 12,000 seats.

    Ticket prices have climbed in recent years, from an average $72.20 in 2008 to $77.34 last year, according to Team Marketing Report. Along with the ticket, the average NFL beer is now $7.20, a hot dog is $4.77 and parking costs $25.77.

    Although the NFL blames the economy, it also worries that the trend reflects a downside to its broadcasting success. TV ratings for NFL games are so strong that broadcasters have guaranteed the league $27.9 billion from 2014 through 2022. That is by far the world's richest sports-broadcasting contract.


    Earlier in the NFL's existence, stadium crowds mattered tremendously. Even though crowds were relatively small—the league never averaged 50,000 fans until 1966—ticket sales accounted for a large percentage of revenue.

    Then billions of dollars from media deals emerged as the NFL became a television darling. Now, broadcast contracts are "the lifeblood" of team finances, accounting for about half of income, said Andrew Brandt, a former Packers vice president who is an ESPN NFL business analyst.

    Other sports have mixed results on attendance. In college basketball, attendance is down each of the past five years. "Across all sports, leagues and teams need to do a much better job of entertaining people who go to the game," said Scott Rosner, a sports-business professor at the Wharton Sports Business Initiative.

    Baseball was a bright spot, with attendance up 0.5% last year, according to Major League Baseball. A National Basketball Association spokesman said the league was "about even" last year.

    In the NFL, negotiations are under way for leaguewide wireless Internet inside stadiums. At least four teams are likely to have wireless Internet in their stadiums this year.

    The idea is that bolstering cell reception and adding wireless will enable fans to re-create the living room in their stadium seats. Fans can receive highlights and replays of the game on the field, or other games across the country. Pete Ward, chief operating officer of the Colts, said this year that the team will unleash a new app for on-demand highlights for fans at the game. "Your smartphone is your replay screen in our stadium," Mr. Ward said.


    The Wi-Fi will be free, the league said. Other services might cost extra.

    Owners have granted permission for the league to place microphones on certain players so that fans can hear on-field commentary via an in-the-work app that would distribute raw feeds. That is a privilege previously awarded only to networks holding broadcast rights.

    The NFL has already mandated that teams have in their stadiums a channel called NFL Red Zone, which shows all plays from around the league within the 20 yard-line. That feature can also be used on some smartphones.

    Under consideration is a plan to make fans in the seats privy to the conversations between referees during reviews of disputed calls. It is a "long way off," said Mr. Grubman, but it represents a desire to welcome in-stadium fans into long-secret huddles on the sideline and in the locker room in the name of helping attendance. "You have to be able to make the game open, you have to give explanations, you have to give information," Mr. Grubman said.

    Write to Kevin Clark at [email]kevin.clark@wsj.com[/email]

  2. #2
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    [quote][B][I]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.[/I][/B][/quote]

    Ironically, what the NFL thinks the in-stadium fan needs is way off too. We go to the games for [I]less [/I]media, not more. We go to the games to watch the [I]games[/I]. To escape the internet, the channel-changing, the screaming kids, the distractions. We go to the games to interact with the Jets fans sitting right next to us, yet the league is doing everything possible so we can't even have a conversation because of all the noise. Now they want to give us 'services' that mimic what we can get in our living rooms? Why wouldn't we stay in our living rooms then?

    If ever I leave season-ticket-holderdom it will be because the PA system and the constant bombardment of noise and distraction has chased me out.

    SAR I
    Last edited by SAR I; 06-29-2012 at 11:37 PM.

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    [QUOTE=SAR I;4504115]Ironically, what the NFL thinks the in-stadium fan needs is way off too. [b]We go to the games for [I]less [/I]media, not more.[/b] We go to the games to watch the [I]games[/I]. To escape the internet, the channel-changing, the screaming kids, the distractions. We go to the games to interact with the Jets fans sitting right next to us, yet the league is doing everything possible so we can't even have a conversation because of all the noise. Now they want to give us 'services' that mimic what we can get in our living rooms? Why wouldn't we stay in our living rooms then?

    If ever I leave season-ticket-holderdom it will be because the PA system and the constant bombardment of noise and distraction has chased me out.

    SAR I[/QUOTE]

    I agree. :shakescane:

    It seems the younger fans can't stay unconnected long enough to enjoy the game without checking their fantasy stats. The at-home experience is so bad these days that I record most games and watch them delayed to FF though the endless commercials. That and most of the talking heads don't know how to shut up and let the viewer enjoy the game.

  4. #4
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    [QUOTE=SAR I;4504115]Ironically, what the NFL thinks the in-stadium fan needs is way off too. We go to the games for [I]less [/I]media, not more. We go to the games to watch the [I]games[/I]. To escape the internet, the channel-changing, the screaming kids, the distractions. We go to the games to interact with the Jets fans sitting right next to us, yet the league is doing everything possible so we can't even have a conversation because of all the noise. Now they want to give us 'services' that mimic what we can get in our living rooms? Why wouldn't we stay in our living rooms then?

    If ever I leave season-ticket-holderdom it will be because the PA system and the constant bombardment of noise and distraction has chased me out.

    SAR I[/QUOTE]

    PSA GOLD?

    :dunno:

    -

  5. #5
    Nor sure about the rest of the league but the days that we drive over 2 bridges, 2 tolls, 2hrs PLUS each way to watch the JETS has gotten a little old.


    HDTV etc. makes the game at home or a bar a bit better.

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    [QUOTE=Mardukis;4504185]Nor sure about the rest of the league but the days that we drive over 2 bridges, 2 tolls, 2hrs PLUS each way to watch the JETS has gotten a little old.

    HDTV etc. makes the game at home or a bar a bit better.[/QUOTE]

    Part of the issue is that the Jets play a boring, uninspired brand of football that is rarely producing points or even first downs. I spend most of my time making noise on third downs for our defense, occasionally get to clap for a field goal.

    When you want to do it the hard way and win it on D like the '85 Bears or '00 Ravens, the unfortunate byproduct is often fan boredom. The in-stadium fan wants to jump up and down because of a brilliant touchdown, not because of some hip hop music at every TV timeout. I've been to several Jets home games where I couldn't offer or receive a single high-five from my neighbors because we were so uninspired by the Jets level of play- and those were games we won.

    Ground and Pound is a snorefest.

    SAR I

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    [QUOTE=32green;4504183]PSA GOLD?

    :dunno:

    -[/QUOTE]

    LOL

    SAR I

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    I have to agree with SAR on this.

    It is an assault on your senses. It is almost as if they want you to do everything but watch the actual game. The game has become a production. Sports has always been somewhat of an entertainment business but now there seem to be more of an emphasis on the entertainment value of going to the game rather than the game itself.

    With regards to the article I don't like the WiFi idea. What is the point. Do teams want everyone showing up with their iPads. Who is going to watch the game? Crowd noise sucks as it is. Now they want us to be able to surf through highlights.

    Screw the bells and whistles. Give me better parking, a decent place to take a piss and let me focus on the game. And throw out any fan who complains that people are standing up during the game. If you want to sit down all game, stay at home on your couch.

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    If they want to make the experience at the game better, "offer more for less."
    1) cheaper Gameday food and drinks
    2) I don't tailgate (long drive) but know that pregame festivities might be fun for some fans. Maybe a College Gameday type stage with visits by coaches, former players, etc.
    3) I like to lister to the radio broadcast (I love stats) at the game. It would be nice if it wasn't on a small delay.
    4). Give some of the regular STHs the chance to get extra access to players over time. Example: 50 random STHs get pregame sideline passes.

  10. #10
    I completely agree... If they continue down this road ... Baseball will once again rear it's boring head as America's favorite game to attend. I remember one game at Giant stadium that the PA was so loud I resorted to ear buds.

    Today the younger generation is being destroyed with the information overload ... Have you ever tried to interview anyone coming out of school these days .. Seriously ... Earlier this year I conducted an interview and the kid told me he needed access to Facebook or he would not consider the job ... And he was serious ... Needless today the interview ended there.

    Prediction ... The nostalgic days of cool autumn days attending games with pent up anticipation are about to come to an end ... College football may become a MUCH better experience.

    The NFL will turn into something we don't even recognize anymore.
    Last edited by Dunnie; 06-30-2012 at 07:35 AM.

  11. #11
    #1- It's the economy stupid.
    #2- Even for guys that have remained unaffected by the downturn, game day costs are ridiculous, my house is paid for and I can only swing 2 games a year.
    #3- As far as those apps go, I am all for it when there is no play on the field. There is nothing worse than being outside in the cold watching a game while the play stops for a tv time out.
    #4- The emphasis on decorum in the stadium is such that for a lot of loud young fans the game experience is affected. These are the guys/Girls that buy the last 3000 seats to the game.

    The announcer yelling FFFFFFFFFirst Doooooown is enough input from their end.

  12. #12
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    Another thing the story didn't touch on, but is pretty important in my eyes, is that TV demands a full house. What do I mean by this?

    Think about it, you watch a game on TV and the seats are half empty, no one can be bothered to show up. There is no roar from the crowd on good plays. It is boring TV. Exciting TV is not just the play on the field, but the reaction of the fans in the stands.

    Without this, they may as well play the game in a studio. Football, baseball, basketball are all live events that need people in the seats. Think about the million dollar seats at Yankee Stadium.....those are the ones you see for every pitch behind home plate. Half the time you are watching the game, there are dozens of seats empty on weekday games. It gives the appearance of a boring game. The Yankees may be making more money, but the appearance on TV is that the stadioum is empty.

    Sports on TV will lost its cachet if no one can afford or be bothered to go to a game. I have a 60" TV at home, and the games look pretty good there....plus I can choose between a dozen games to watch each Sunday if this one bores me. There is no line to get to the bathroom, and the food and drinks are a lot cheaper. Lastly, it doesn't rain or snow in my living room. The teams are trying to keep people from their living rooms and get to the game.

    I tend to think I am on the border for age with some things at the stadium.....I hate the fact that they pump in all that noise between plays and before the game, so I am an old man for disliking loud music. But I like the fact that I can be connected to see replays, other games, etc. I like to be able to get warm between quarters or seek shelter from the rain....so I am young punk who likes to be connected and can't tough out the weather :)

    But if the league doesn't do something to keep fans going to the games, those big billion dollar contracts will die off when the game is not seen as exciting to watch. Look at baseball, it was the biggest sport on the planet for years, now it is something Fox uses to promote Nascar and other sports.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=rgoltsch;4504207]Another thing the story didn't touch on, but is pretty important in my eyes, is that TV demands a full house. What do I mean by this?

    Think about it, you watch a game on TV and the seats are half empty, no one can be bothered to show up. There is no roar from the crowd on good plays. It is boring TV. Exciting TV is not just the play on the field, but the reaction of the fans in the stands.

    Without this, they may as well play the game in a studio. Football, baseball, basketball are all live events that need people in the seats. Think about the million dollar seats at Yankee Stadium.....those are the ones you see for every pitch behind home plate. Half the time you are watching the game, there are dozens of seats empty on weekday games. It gives the appearance of a boring game. The Yankees may be making more money, but the appearance on TV is that the stadioum is empty.

    Sports on TV will lost its cachet if no one can afford or be bothered to go to a game. I have a 60" TV at home, and the games look pretty good there....plus I can choose between a dozen games to watch each Sunday if this one bores me. There is no line to get to the bathroom, and the food and drinks are a lot cheaper. Lastly, it doesn't rain or snow in my living room. The teams are trying to keep people from their living rooms and get to the game.

    I tend to think I am on the border for age with some things at the stadium.....I hate the fact that they pump in all that noise between plays and before the game, so I am an old man for disliking loud music. But I like the fact that I can be connected to see replays, other games, etc. I like to be able to get warm between quarters or seek shelter from the rain....so I am young punk who likes to be connected and can't tough out the weather :)

    But if the league doesn't do something to keep fans going to the games, those big billion dollar contracts will die off when the game is not seen as exciting to watch. Look at baseball, it was the biggest sport on the planet for years, now it is something Fox uses to promote Nascar and other sports.[/QUOTE]

    Please I watch the game with the volume off, and turn it on when there is a penalty, injury or such. As far as crowd reaction, it makes no difference if the game is at home or away as far as crowd reaction or attendence. The game can be pouring rain in a visitors stadium with 40,000 in the stands, it has no affect on my enjoyment of the game.

    The only time I recall an exception to this was a snow game in Foxboro there the crowd would throw handfuls of snow in the air every time the pats scored.

    one good thing about going to the game is no announcers saying brady this or brady that or Polumalu this or that. Sometimes you would think that there are 4 guys playing a game and not 22

  14. #14
    Isn't the obvious thing - lower the cost of tickets?? They say they get most of their money from TV now, and so obvious the TV experience is great. So there's less demand for tickets. Which is fine - they're getting lots of money from TV. So they should accept that they'll get a little less from stadium revenues.

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=JetsFan55;4504105]...[B]The New York Jets, even though they now feature quarterback Tim Tebow[/B], announced last week they are cutting prices on 12,000 seats.[/email][/QUOTE]

    LOL...featuring Tim Tebow

  16. #16
    Seriously though, it's sad that today's season ticket holder has to be told by a PA announcer when to stand up and cheer.

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=thshadow;4504527][B]Isn't the obvious thing - lower the cost of tickets??[/B] They say they get most of their money from TV now, and so obvious the TV experience is great. So there's less demand for tickets. Which is fine - they're getting lots of money from TV. So they should accept that they'll get a little less from stadium revenues.[/QUOTE]
    :yes:

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    [QUOTE=Owen Reed;4504551]LOL...featuring Tim Tebow[/QUOTE]

    Tim Tebow will be featured as a quarterback; as the center piece of a Tony Sparano ran Wildcat Formation. We called this package the 'Razor-Back' formation with Brad Smith running it and we also called it our "Seminole' formation with Leon Washington. We're on the verge of calling this our 'Gator package'.

    I can't think of a stronger quarterback to run a Wildcat formation. I can't think of a better offensive coordinator to run the formation when compared to Sparano and last but not least? Tebow rushing behind a great run blocking Nick Mangold? I can't imagine a better 1-2 punch.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=NY2FLDWC85;4504563]Tim Tebow will be featured as a quarterback; as the center piece of a Tony Sparano ran Wildcat Formation. We called this package the 'Razor-Back' formation with Brad Smith running it and we also called it our "Seminole' formation with Leon Washington. We're on the verge of calling this our 'Gator package'.

    I can't think of a stronger quarterback to run a Wildcat formation. I can't think of a better offensive coordinator to run the formation when compared to Sparano and last but not least? Tebow rushing behind a great run blocking Nick Mangold? I can't imagine a better 1-2 punch.[/QUOTE]

    No stats? Where's the rest?

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    [QUOTE=NY's stepchild;4504565]No stats? Where's the rest?[/QUOTE]

    Well, The Broncos did lead the league in rushing yards last season, and Tebow was a key reason why (also led Denver in rushing TD's). Tebow rushed for 660 rushing yards, 35 rushes resulting in first downs to go along with an average 5.4 yard per carry. Tebow also put up 6 rushing TD's for Denver's offense. I'm anxious to see what he can do under a Sparano led Wildcat formation, especially considering the fact that Miami has ranked 4th, 11th, 11th and 21st in rushing yards and 1st, 9th, 19th and 29th in rushing TD's during the 4 years that Sparano coached the Dolphins. With a new toy in Tebow aong with a much improved Jets offensive line (when compared to Miami's); I believe it's safe to say we'll focus on beating opposing D's up with our rushing attack (Greene and Tebow) before exposing them to a down field passing attack.

    I could be wrong.
    Last edited by NY2FLDWC85; 06-30-2012 at 07:02 PM.

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