Late last week, as three NFL teams struggled to sell out their playoff games, one dominant theory emerged for why fans weren’t buying tickets.
That argument is pretty simple: The NFL is better on TV than it is in person.
PFT’s Michael David Smith summed up the argument pretty concisely in a post this morning:
“The truth is, if you have an HD TV and a comfortable couch, sitting at home and watching the games for free is a lot better than paying a small fortune to sit in an uncomfortable stadium, often in terrible weather, surrounded by loudmouth drunks”
On Saturday I went to the Eagles-Saints game as a fan.
It was really fun. More fun than watching from home. Watching a game on your couch and watching the game in person are incomparable experiences. One is passive and familiar, the other is social and rare.
It’s strange that this is an unpopular statement.
I encountered pretty much all of the annoyances that writers mention when they argue that NFL games stink to go to. We left the house at 3 p.m. and didn’t get home until 1 a.m. We got stuck in traffic going home. There was a creepy drunk dude in the parking lot who bummed a pair of hand warmers off of us. My feet were freezing the entire time. I sometimes couldn’t tell what was going on in the game without the God’s eye view that TV provides.
But even with all of that, it was a blast.
You get to drink all day (in public, too!). You get to untether yourself from your day-to-day life.
Inside the stadium, there’s nothing like the energy of a playoff game. It’s a rare experience — the sensation of watching something unfold right in front of you, and your emotions matching the precise emotions of thousands of other people around you.
In retrospect, OF COURSE it’s awesome to go to a big football game. How is this even an argument?
I can’t speak for regular season games, but whatever attendance issues the NFL is going through right now, I don’t think the TV vs. live experience disparity is the culprit.
The reason teams had trouble selling out last week is simpler than we’re all making it out to be. The tickets are just too expensive.
The average price of a playoff ticket in 2007 was $US121. That includes all rounds.
In the wild card round this year (the least desirable playoff games, in theory), the average Packers ticket was $US349, the average Eagles ticket was $US318, the average Colts ticket was $US203, and the average Bengals ticket was $US142, according to Forbes.
NFL playoff tickets are not affordable for most people. That’s the crisis here, not anything to do with TV. There comes a price point at which it’s more desirable to sit on the couch and miss out on the live experience, and it looks like the NFL has reached that point.
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