Part 2: The NFL, A Victim of It’s Own Brilliance

Posted: October 1, 2010 in NFL

…so on last week’s rant, I was talking about how the NFL was going to be down in attendance this year, but unlike every other sport, they’re not losing fans, their television numbers are through the roof. So the NFL is facing a very unique situation. They are so darn good on television that it’s hurting their in-stadium attendance, just by a little though, at a projected 3%. But, unlike the MLB, which always has its head in the sand, you can bet that the NFL will be proactive, progressive, and smart and they will mute this. How do you improve the stadium experience? I thought, because I guess I have no life (I tend to think about stuff like this as I start to write more). I thought about this one morning while on the GO Train, asking myself “how do you get me back in a stadium?” How do you get back a guy, who has options, has transformed either his basement or a room in his house into a media room, and has discretionary income to buy flat screens?

I came to the conclusion that the NFL has to give me and guys like me something we can’t get at home; otherwise, I’d just stay at home. And the NFL stadiums are increasingly becoming low brow, vulgar, non family guy, can’t take your kids there, type of environment. So how do you get me back? My belief on what you are going to see, and it’s going to transpire pretty quickly, is my prediction (and it gets really exciting). But remember, in order to get me back, you have to give me what I can’t get. 70-80% of fans will have access to televisions, headsets and the ability to watch the Redzone channel in the stadiums, so that’s virtually good news for everybody in the stadium. Now maybe not everybody in the stadium, but I mean meatball guy in the 3rd deck in bad weather is still going to show up regardless. But the guy that is going to demand that you give him a little better, 70% of the crowd, is going to have televisions access to it as well. It’s almost like when you fly Delta Airlines right now, they have internet and they have television, you”ll have that at your seat.

Now Jerry Jones whiffed on that, Jerry Jones built a huge flat screen, which I think is totally distracting and he built a huge stadium. I think we are going to get smaller venues, more intimate, with 70% of the crowd having access to televisions or headsets and Redzone channel. Here is the really exciting thing though. For about 25% of you, the luxury demo! The guy making 100 grand, somewhere between 88 grand and 150 grand average. The guy that has options, flat screen televisions…you are the real winner. Because that’s what’s happening to the NFL, they are losing you and they’re going to get you back, you are going to have a headset and you will be piped in to the play calling on the sidelines! You will hear exactly what the co-ordinators hear. You will hear, what the head coach hears, you will be given a headset.

Now it sounds ridicoulous, but I’ve kinda been predicting this stuff for the past 3 or 4 years now. Remember when they told us that with our cell phone, we would be able to watch television, movies, listen to radio. Remember when they told us that and everybody went “oh please!” claiming as well that you’d be able to use it as your computer…well you can now! People in technology will tell you that the smart guys in the NFL…. we are getting to a point, that the high end guy, who has got options, who can stay home and afford a 7 thousand or 12 thousand dollar media room, your going to get a luxury experience that is unbelievable!!

They are actually already doing this in NASCAR, in the suites. Where you can hear the pit crews, you will be given access to play calling. Now, they will delay it so that you hear it right before the play, so you can’t listen and feed it, you might be on a 7 second delay, but you will get it.  So all of this is extremely exciting. The winner is all of this, is you the fan!  You’re the winner in all of this stuff. Roger Goodell, and this is why the NFL is so much more progressive – isn’t it funny how baseball is the intellectual sport but they always have their head in the sand and the NFL is said to be just a bunch of 300 pound dopes, the NFL is miles ahead of MLB!! 3% attendance drop and Roger Goodell is already addressing all the owners saying “we have got to make the stadium experience less vulgar, more accessible…”

I think Jerry Jones and the Cowboys went the wrong way! I think they built a big gigantic stadium, that is super expensive, hard to get into, hard to get out of with a huge flat screen television that everybody is staring at. I think that’s the wrong way, but I guess he’s smarter than me. I think what you will see in the NFL is very similar to what you will see in Los Angeles with the Staple Center where it feels like one big luxury box. You can say what you want, but people in Los Angeles have options. They make a little more money, they got the beats, the baby dolls, and they got other pro sports. In order to get a Laker fan, it’s not just winning. You have got to make winning at really great experience possible, now you’ve got LA Live right next to the Staple Center, and I’ve been saying this for years now. The NBA in-stadium experience, if you have a good team, is arguably much better than the NFL in-stadium experience. It’s indoors, I can see the players, I’m closer to the action, I get cocktails, it’s like a social scene, there is more room (elbow wise) and the stadium only seats like sixteen thousand eight hundred, I’m in and out in 10 mins.

So you’re going to see the NFL, to a large degree, try to steal something from the NBA. Jerry Jones did that to some degree, but he made the stadium too big, and God know’s it must be a mission to get in and get out and 90% of the public won’t go in there, with the exception of the Superbowl this year, and you’re going to see that its truly a zoo! Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a lot of great things, but it’s not as intimate to me as you’d like to have a stadium be.


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