NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broached the topic of in-stadium engagement at the NFL League meetings May 22.
As reported by Nate Davis of USA Today:
"We believe that it is important to get technology into our stadiums," Goodell said. "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."
Well said, Rog.
The NFL is concerned about its fans attending games in person. Sure, it is the most popular sport, but consuming the sport at home is just so damn appealing.
For the 2012 season, DirecTV subscribers can purchase the NFL Ticket for $199. For another $100, you can also watch every game, every week, on your computer, smartphone or tablet.
The average ticket to an NFL game in 2011 was $113.17. Then, factor in parking (anywhere from $20-$50) and food and drink (at least $40). We're already approaching $200 for just one game.
The NFL is making it harder and harder for fans to want to go to a game because the alternative is just as appealing.
It makes sense why Goodell would want things like wireless access at stadiums. Attending an NFL game will never be as comfortable – or as cheap – as it is on your couch, but recognizing that is a big step for the NFL.
The hot topic around Cleveland the last few weeks has been the Indians poor attendance despite playing winning baseball. Meanwhile, the Browns have had relatively full houses in the fall despite playing losing football.
Ever hear someone say the following?
"Attending a baseball game in person is much more fun than attending a football game in person."
Well, yeah. Baseball is mind-numbingly boring on TV.
Football is a made-for-TV sport. It just works on so many levels.
In person … eh. Who does not loathe the TV timeout guy in the bright orange oven mitts by the end of the first quarter?
I'm very lucky because I get to watch a majority of Browns games from the comfort of a press box. I thank that Big Steelers Fan in the sky — along with Barry and Lane — for that privilege every fall Sunday.
That being said, I used to attend Browns games as a fan dating back to the old Cleveland Stadium days.
I've always held the opinion that attending a baseball game in person was more fun than a football game for the simple fact that watching a football game at home was much better. And that was determined years before high definition TVs.
So, is the ability to have access to a wi-fi network really going to help Browns' fans with their in-game engagement?
This is a good first step. While the old-school fans will lament about some fans inability to simply enjoy the game in front of them, the younger NFL fan wants — no, needs — to be plugged in. It is just not about the Browns game on Sundays.
There is the gambling aspect that far exceeds a three-team parlay. Fantasy football is wildly popular and most fans want to know even the most mundane details.
Did Tony Romo throw a touchdown pass? Who scored that last touchdown in the Chiefs-Raiders game?
The Browns have a chance to be innovators in this area. Time to re-think the in-stadium game presentation. Playing "Hang On Sloopy" before the start of the fourth quarter or playing a pre-recorded interview with Joe Thomas is just not cutting it.
Give fans stats for the out-of-town games. Yes, most can get the information on their phones, but if Cleveland Browns Stadium is going to have a ticker scoreboard, make it a ticker scoreboard for 2012.
Step one: Detailed stats of every game. The Packers may have a 35-3 lead on the Vikings in the fourth quarter, but fans need to know that when the score changed to 35-10, who scored the touchdown for Minnesota.
Step two: Designate big HDTVs in the concourse areas that show a constant stream of the Red Zone channel. The Red Zone channel is a thing of beauty on Sundays when the Browns have their bye week or if they play a Thursday or Monday night. The channel jumps from game-to-game showing the most important action – without commercials.
Step Three: Every TV timeout, play the Red Zone channel on the Jumbtron. Sure, the Browns need to provide promos for their sponsors, but keep it short and sweet and turn on another game.
Browns fans love their team, but they also love the NFL and fantasy football. The team needs to recognize that fact and show the other 30 stadiums how to treat the fans.
These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling.
What say you?