Are sports teams everywhere really running out of fans?
We’ve all seen recent reports from major leagues, most notably the NFL but also NBA and NASCAR, that show a decline in fan attendance.
Live sports are tons of fun – for rabid sports fanatics, but also for the average Joe and Jane. Joe may not know what a frozen rope is, or what it means to catch a crab… but man, there is nothing like a hot dog, a beer and a ball game, especially on a brisk fall day. It’s the classic American sports experience, right?
So why are we seeing smaller and smaller numbers at the game?
The fact is, a decline in fan attendance is affecting college football, professional baseball, basketball, and football, even motorsports:
- Major League Baseball: A notable decrease in total game attendance, according to Baseball Reference.com. Even legendary baseball giants the New York Yankees have seen a decline of fans per game and are selling half-off tickets through Groupon.
- National Basketball Association: Several lower-level teams, like the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, and Detroit Pistons had major attendance drops. The Pistons averaged only 13,272 tickets sold per home game in the 21,000-seat Palace arena.
- The National Football League: The league with the highest total revenue, yet still losing fan attendance each year.
“The drop-off in attendance for live sporting events is getting worse,” said Lee Igel, a professor of sports management at New York University. So where have all of the fans gone?
It’s possible that online streaming has something to do with it.
Teams may actually be gaining more fans – it’s just not apparent because they’re not (physically) showing up. Tech advances have made sports much more widely accessible to the average fan, which is great! However many teams are struggling to sell tickets when their fans can stream almost any game (at any time, even live) to their living room tv, computer, or phone. It’s not nearly the same experience, but we may be forgetting just how great a real game is.
Or is it the cost of attendance?
Our economy is not exactly booming right now… is it possible that it just costs too much for the average American to purchase the tickets (let alone the $25 hot dogs). According to Yahoo Sports, it costs an average of $443.93 for a family of four to attend an NFL game. Here’s the worst of it:
Highest Fan Cost Index (for a family of 4):
- Boston Red Sox (MLB): $360.66
- Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL): $572.58
- New York Knicks (NBA): $676.42
- Chicago Bears (NFL): $685.10
“We know it’s more comfortable sitting on a couch,” said NFL spokesman McCarthy, “But the players can’t hear you from there.”
Creative solutions to a growing problem
Many teams, including (but not limited to) the big four pro leagues are struggling to find creative ways to boost sales. Some are using coupon platforms like Groupon; others have tried dynamic pricing and other promotions.
One method that hasn’t fully been explored: finding new and exciting ways for fans to get engaged – and to earn rewards for going to games.
Fan engagement and competition platforms like Fantelope allow sports teams to create challenges, to engage fans and make game day even more fun. In the Fantelope dashboard, teams can see who their biggest fans are, who comes to the games and who shares the most on social media. Then they can reward them and give them bragging rights for being the ultimate fan! Ask for a demo to see how Fantelope can benefit your team, or download it today to see its exciting potential.