People have made huge investments in high-definition television and sound systems for their home these days — and you can’t blame them for staying home and watching games, rather than paying to get into games. For a lot of reasons — including rude fan behavior, traffic, too-crowded stadiums, to name just a few — watching at home can be a better experience than actually attending the games.
It’s the new challenge in professional sports — even for a league as wildly successful as the NFL, where at the height of the sport’s popularity attendance has dropped for two straight seasons. How do you get people to come to your stadium and buy tickets when it’s so easy to sit at home and watch the game for free?
Well, in the NFL, the blackout rule helps. If the game isn’t sold out, home-team fans CAN’T watch the games at home. No other sport has this rule — but they probably should. Even though teams are making more money off television than they are gate receipts in every major sport, they are still reliant on those gate receipts for a significant portion of revenue.
That’s why, at this point, serious thought is being put into added value for spectators at games. And I’m not just talking about bobblehead dolls and refrigerator magnets, either. The huge scoreboards are a help, as are insightful interviews on those boards before and after games. All-you-can-eat buffets in certain sections is a big deal these days. But you’re going to see more innovations inside arenas and stadiums as teams attempt to fight the battle against stay-at-homes.
Just wait until you see sports on 3D TV. I watched a baseball game in 3D earlier this summer and it was spellbinding. Sports have been playing a dangerous game for years now, competing against their live gates with home TV.
And it’s shaping up to be quite a fight.