Professional sports attendance is under pressure.
A couple of stats to ponder: 41% of the NFL teams had home attendance under 95% this past season. That compares to 28% of the teams in 2009. The NBA is even worse: 60% of the teams had home attendance under 95% in 2010 vs 47% in 2009. Source: ESPN NFL and NBA
Why? Ticket, concession, parking prices, and the economy play a role.
But how about the fan experience? Would you rather go to the game or be at home with the widescreen HDTV, comfy chairs, hot food and cold beer?
Ray Compton spoke last week in Fort Wayne. Now the Czar of Compton Strategies, he was behind many successful promotions for the Indianapolis Ice, the Pacers, and the Colts …. all when they were in their darker, struggling days. One example, he held a noon free thow shooting contest for a midseason Pacers/Cavs game when each were lucky to win 20 games a season. Buy one ticket, get five free with every made free throw. Result: Lots of media attention, large crowd for the game, many seeing their first live game. Better than empty seats, no concessions, etc.
He stressed that it is the total fan experience that drives attendance. If teams don’t pay attention to the total experience … fans will stay home with the HDTV and there will be more empty seats.
So what? Teams will still get the TV money which is much greater than live venue revenues. But a team without strong fan attendance has problems. TV audiences see empty seats and the team looks like a loser regardless of the outcome. Merchandising can be at risk, and you can bet that cities and tourism boards will be howling when the economic impact of the games start to drop. It will sure make that next “build me a stadium” drive much harder!
Who else sees the home viewing experience as a big risk? Mavs owner Mark Cuban. His blog post, The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – Never Look Down really makes the point. By-the-way, Mavs home attendance has been at or above 104% since 2009.
One more point, My post (The) Experience Counts! discusses new research that shows people are happier spending money on experiences instead of on material things.
How have your attendance habits changed?
– Don Kincaid