NFL Fans Choosing to Watch at Home More

It seems as though die-hard NFL fans are figuring out that it’s much more convenient and inexpensive; and, depending on how nice your TV is, more enjoyable to watch their favorite NFL teams at home. Season ticket sales are down 5 percent from last year and league officials are projecting a decline in overall attendance to the league’s lowest level since 1998. The average attendance at an NFL game in 2009 was just over 65,000.

At the same time, TV ratings spiked in 2009 for FOX, NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network, and CBS had it’s best season since 1993 in terms of ratings. What’s worse for the league is that high definition TVs are becoming more and more affordable, and 3D broadcasting of television shows is just around the corner. All of this has the stay-at home football viewing experience much more enjoyable. In addition, the growing popularity of fantasy football has many potential attendees of football games choosing to stay home where they can keep one eye on the game, and the other on their computer screen so they can monitor their fantasy games.

The NFL is taking steps to keep people coming to games. Many NFL stadiums this year are showing the popular RedZone channel on scoreboards before, during, and after games. A few are even offering hand-held video devices to allow spectators to keep an eye on other games. The league has also changed its policy to allow more fan-noise during games, lifting a ban on scoreboard messages like “Raise the Roof” or “Pump it Up”; and they’ve enacted a fan-conduct policy in an attempt to make attending football games a more family friendly experience.

A big reason for the dropping attendance is ticket prices, especially with the struggling US economy. The average NFL ticket price rose in 2009 by 3.9 percent. That’s a $75.00 average ticket price with thousands of Americans out of work and struggling to pay bills and put food on their table. Going to an NFL game is just a luxury that many Americans can simply not afford in this tough economy.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opened the new Cowboys Stadium last season. The venue cost a whopping $1.2 billion to construct and features the world’s largest high-definition video screen that stretches from one twenty-yard line to the other. Jones said he could easily have gotten away with spending $400 million less on the stadium, but went the extra mile to enhance the experience of the fans.

On Sunday The New York Giants will host the first regular season game at the New Meadowlands Stadium, which it shares with the Jets. At a staggering $1.6 billion cost, it’s the most expensive sporting venue in US history. A spokesman for the Giants said that the design focuses on enhancing fan experience with improvements like four times as many bathrooms and points of food and souvenir sales in comparison to the old stadium, better roads and parking, full-time rail service and massive HD video screens.