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michael89156

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« : July 08, 2012, 08:34:06 PM »

NFL in scramble mode in what could be a losing battle to keep fans filling its stadiums




By Mike Freeman | National NFL Insider
CBSSports.com



Tex Schramm helped bring technological innovations like referees' microphones, play clocks and instant replay into the NFL. (Getty Images)





The year was 1980, and one of the great NFL visionaries saw the future of the sport. He saw, even then, how technology could eventually lead to the emptying of stadiums for the luxury of living rooms.

The late Tex Schramm was president of the Dallas Cowboys for almost 30 years. Three decades ago, as televisions improved in quality and ridiculousness of size, Schramm became worried that the days of 70,000 fans packing NFL stadiums would end. Televisions, Schramm believed, would make attending games obsolete.

In what was a remarkably prophetic moment in NFL history, Schramm gave a 1980 interview to the Associated Press, an interview that remains relevant now. He describes watching a game in the living room of Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith and was struck by the big-screen TV and number of channels available. Schramm envisioned a scenario where games were played in a television studio, not in a stadium, in front of limited number of fans and journalists. And at home, fans placed bets by pressing a series of buttons with fees charged to their credit cards. They could instantly switch to different games and focus on, say, the defensive backfield alone. All with the touch of a button. Sound familiar?

Remember, Schramm was saying this in the early 1980s, when cable television was still in its infancy, and 30 years later, most of those predictions came true. The one Schramm-ism, that technology will lead to the end of watching games in stadiums, could also become accurate.

The NFL remains worried -- no, scared is the word -- this is quickly becoming the case.

Several team executives said one of the motives behind the league's series of initiatives to make watching games in stadiums better for fans is the growing fear that technology at home will make watching games in stadiums obsolete. And if that happens, all of that revenue, in the billions of dollars, could dry up.

"Our business is very competitive," Packers president Mark Murphy told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "We're competing with ourselves, in a sense, because TV is so good, and we want to make sure the experience in the stadium is unique. It really focuses on technology."
 
"We believe that it is important to get technology into our stadiums," commissioner Roger Goodell said recently. "We have made the point repeatedly that the experience at home is outstanding, and we have to compete with that in some fashion by making sure that we create the same kind of environment in our stadiums and create the same kind of technology."

Goodell has said he wants wireless in all stadiums for mobile devices so fans can stay in touch with news across the league during games. Other initiatives include better concessions and bigger scoreboards.

What the NFL is doing is smart. It makes total sense. It also won't stop the inevitable. Technology is getting so good that one day (very soon) stadiums will be vastly less populated and the fan experience will mostly be limited to watching the game in HD, on a couch, roast beef sandwich in hand, no line for the bathroom, no traffic, no huge fees for tickets or parking. In other words, technology and comfort will actually trump the excitement of being at a game.

One executive said the league's relaxing of the blackout rule was a sign that the NFL sees the inevitable. "If you can't beat 'em," the person said, "join 'em."

The route football is taking, to me, has a predictable end. The technology will only get better, and what makes things worse for the NFL is that it's only a matter of time before tablets get better as well. One day you'll be able to carry a game into the bathroom on an HD tablet, with game paused, then after the bathroom, kiss your girlfriend or boyfriend or both, answer the doorbell, get the nachos, cool the beer, then resume the game at your own leisure.

All happening in the palm of your hand. Can't do that in a stadium.

So, judging by the NFL's strategy, it looks like Schramm might be right. And if that's so, it's only a matter of time until we see the end of stadium football.

Not 50 years from now, but maybe within a decade or two.






BucsFTW

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« #1 : July 08, 2012, 09:37:56 PM »

One particular line caught my eye...


...In other words, technology and comfort will actually trump the excitement of being at a game.

I think instead of 'will', they should have used 'has'...

Thing is, the stadium experience has already been surpassed by the home experience, in my opinion.

Very soon, as in 'within the next 20 years' kind of soon...  you're not going to have to pay a penny for a "ticket".

They'll let you in like you're the "studio audience" of The Price is Right...!

Heck, they'll be thrilled if you stop and buy a cheap hot dog and coke...


DeltaBuc5

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« #2 : July 08, 2012, 09:43:47 PM »

I beg to differ, I don't think anything beats the stadium experience.

I rather go to a game any day of the week than sit at home and watch a bunch of idiots talk for four hours. Maybe that's just me being a hardcore sports fan...but **CENSORED** TV.

ufojoe

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« #3 : July 08, 2012, 09:59:54 PM »

I beg to differ, I don't think anything beats the stadium experience.

I rather go to a game any day of the week than sit at home and watch a bunch of idiots talk for four hours. Maybe that's just me being a hardcore sports fan...but **CENSORED** TV.

Agreed. Nothing they currently offer on TV matches being in the stadium and the energy that you feel. And as much as I like the giant screens some
stadiums have, it's not something that would keep me from going to a game if they didn't have it. Same with a half time show that some posters want
so bad. I don't care.

Give me NFL football and surround me with 60,000 Bucs fans and I'm in heaven. When I lived in Tampa, I didn't mind the traffic, heat, lines
at the concession stands or lines at the bathrooms. Easy to avoid the last two. And the drunks around me were few and far between. The games
always trumped those "issues."

Give me live NFL football or give me death! Well, since I live in Vegas, I have to accept games in HD and sportsbooks. But I'm looking forward to
coming to Tampa for at least one game (Redskins) this year.


ryan24

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« #4 : July 08, 2012, 10:14:18 PM »

I think the writer took an interesting topic and ran too far with it. There's no doubt that the TV experience or in home experience is eroding and will continue to erode on attendance at sporting events including the NFL. There's a subset of fans who currently attend games who may eventually find it more enjoyable staying home. On the other hand, there is a subset of fans currently attending game who would never give up that experience for the reasons given above. What I think we'll eventually see are smaller stadiums...seating capacity wise as the NFL would very likely not want to show half empty stadiums consistently. That's at least one more cycle of stadiums.

Happy and Peppy and Bursting with love.

BucsFTW

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« #5 : July 08, 2012, 10:33:05 PM »

I beg to differ, I don't think anything beats the stadium experience.

I rather go to a game any day of the week than sit at home and watch a bunch of idiots talk for four hours. Maybe that's just me being a hardcore sports fan...but **CENSORED** TV.
Oh I agree, without a doubt, but we're dinosaurs.  There are very few "hard cores" left, and the attraction of what can be had at home, is BETTER - in the eyes of many (most) younger fans.

And they're not going to get away with it much longer.  And it's NOT like they've (the NFL) done anything wrong.

They've made their money while they can, but their bottom lines are sure to take a hit in the coming years.  The younger generation wants a lotta bang for $100-$200 a pop, and I can't blame them.  There are many options for your entertainment dollar in the area.  They're going to get to the point where they'll have to sell you the game via pay per view, or charge you in some way.

A perfect comparison is the Brighthouse versus NFL Network...  Brighthouse will hold out until they get the better price, or it begins to affect their stockholders pockets, at which time they'll pull the trigger and say they were forced by public pressure to pass the price increase onto the consumer.

Football............ without a stadium full of screaming fans...  just wouldn't have the same draw.

Year by year, they'll be forced to lower ticket prices, reduce parking and concessions, to the point they'll happily give away upper level seats, just so you get them a quailty "Home Experience" they can sell you...


BucsFTW

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« #6 : July 09, 2012, 12:06:32 AM »

I think the writer took an interesting topic and ran too far with it. There's no doubt that the TV experience or in home experience is eroding and will continue to erode on attendance at sporting events including the NFL. There's a subset of fans who currently attend games who may eventually find it more enjoyable staying home. On the other hand, there is a subset of fans currently attending game who would never give up that experience for the reasons given above. What I think we'll eventually see are smaller stadiums...seating capacity wise as the NFL would very likely not want to show half empty stadiums consistently. That's at least one more cycle of stadiums.

Why "too far"?  Too far fetched maybe?

The NFL knows they can't get the Billion dollar TV contracts they do, if they're showing half-empty stadiums from around the country.

Story was about a quote from Hank Schramm, 32 years ago.  Heck, 32 years from now I'd be shocked if it didn't have a Rollerball feel and look to it.




Escobar06

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« #7 : July 09, 2012, 12:49:07 AM »

Comfort and prices, if they want to stop the inevitable they need to focus on those two areas. I like the NBA or NHL atmosphere better. Fans are closer to the playing area, it's louder, and you aren't baking in the sun with a bunch of drunk sweaty fools bumping into you. Retractable roof arenas would be ideal. Building them the right size with the right amenities could really turn things around IMO. Picture a smaller arena, maybe holding 40-50k fans, with more space between seats and more leg room. During night or winter games the roof could be left open, closed during hot day games. You can't replicate the comfort of a living room obviously, but you can make the environment better than it is today. Tampa stadium had benches, Ray Jay has individual seats, the next step is more room around seats. Cramming into a seat on a hot summer day with two dudes on either side of you practically sitting in your lap isn't my idea of a good time.

Dolorous Jason

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« #8 : July 09, 2012, 07:31:29 AM »

It's not about comfort , it's not about Hi-Def , it's not about replays , and it's not about extra ammenities ......it's PRICE. Price Price Price.

Want to fill stadiums ? Lower the prices. Period. The bottom line is the NFL has priced itself right out of the Middle Class.

What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           

blind melon

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« #9 : July 09, 2012, 08:11:33 AM »

I could actually see a 'stadium-free' event of some type in the next 20 or so years...  the technology WILL supercede the game day event.

It won't be this generation of "...I want it now..." youngin's  - it will be the next generation of "...I want in front of me, now without the hassle of having to leave my couch by clicking a button..." types.

Technology makes people lazy.   No shocker there...  :'(


Who knew how good it would feel as a fan when we now know what it\'s like for our team to have a direction, an attitude, and dare I say an offense?.  

Good time to be a Bucs fan.

3rd String Kicker

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« #10 : July 09, 2012, 08:19:26 AM »

Quote from: blind melon
Technology makes people lazy.   No shocker there...  :'(

This is completely outlandish.

I'm going to go cook a hot pocket.

blind melon

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« #11 : July 09, 2012, 08:32:39 AM »

Here's the WSJ article where the stadium experience is discussed...  (Not just the blackout percentages...)

(I've Highlighted some key discussion points that I haven't seen being chatted about...)


http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/07/02/new-york-is-immune-to-nfls-seat-scramble/

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

 
WSJ sports reporter Kevin Clark takes a seat on Mean Street to look at unprecedented measures the National Football League has announced it will employ to bring fans back to the stadium to watch games.

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.

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. (there's nothing here about differentiating between club and general seating...)

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.

Who knew how good it would feel as a fan when we now know what it\'s like for our team to have a direction, an attitude, and dare I say an offense?.  

Good time to be a Bucs fan.

DeltaBuc5

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« #12 : July 09, 2012, 09:11:46 AM »

It's not about comfort , it's not about Hi-Def , it's not about replays , and it's not about extra ammenities ......it's PRICE. Price Price Price.

Want to fill stadiums ? Lower the prices. Period. The bottom line is the NFL has priced itself right out of the Middle Class.

Middle class is what...50-100K/year? You can get decent tickets for $70/pop, $15 of concessions, $5 for parking(if you know where to)...adding up to a shocking $720~ year for 8 home games. Less than a 50th of a middle class person's income.

Sorry, but going to a game really isn't that expensive unless you plan to sit in the first row , at the 50 yard line every single game.
« : July 09, 2012, 09:17:36 AM BFT+C »

tripblood

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« #13 : July 09, 2012, 09:16:42 AM »

It's not about comfort , it's not about Hi-Def , it's not about replays , and it's not about extra ammenities ......it's PRICE. Price Price Price.

Want to fill stadiums ? Lower the prices. Period. The bottom line is the NFL has priced itself right out of the Middle Class.

Middle class is what...50-100K/year? You can get decent tickets for $70/pop, $15 of concessions, $5 for parking(if you know where to)...adding up to a shocking $720~ year for 8 home games. Less than a 50th of a middle class person's income.

Sorry, but going to a game really isn't that expensive unless you plan to sit in the first row , at the 50 yard line.

Agreed. That's even coming fom a guy who's electric is currently shut off


This guy...

DeltaBuc5

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« #14 : July 09, 2012, 09:17:44 AM »

It's not about comfort , it's not about Hi-Def , it's not about replays , and it's not about extra ammenities ......it's PRICE. Price Price Price.

Want to fill stadiums ? Lower the prices. Period. The bottom line is the NFL has priced itself right out of the Middle Class.

Middle class is what...50-100K/year? You can get decent tickets for $70/pop, $15 of concessions, $5 for parking(if you know where to)...adding up to a shocking $720~ year for 8 home games. Less than a 50th of a middle class person's income.

Sorry, but going to a game really isn't that expensive unless you plan to sit in the first row, at the 50 yard line every single game.
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