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NFL Game Attendance Down, But Blackout Rule Loosened

The Wall street Journal recently published an article about the NFL and its earnings. It cited that since 2007 attendance at games is is down about 4.5 percent. TV viewership is way up. Now, the league has changed the local blackout rule. Before, a team would have to sell out to be able to air the game locally.

Now we have this:

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.

The bigger question is now why they would do that after so many years of blacking out teams. Who doesn't remember the days before University of Phoenix Stadium, never watching home games? The Cardinals have sold out every home game since opening the new stadium, but there were a few games recently in which that streak was in doubt.

This does not solve the attendance problem. And based on the league's long-time rules, they always believed that without blacking out games, teams would have less fans at games.

The answer seems pretty simple. The league has two options. Either they look at the simple market economics of supply and demand, the league has overpriced their tickets. They need to lower them because obviously they cost too much or fans would sell out every stadium.

The other option is to offer something different, creating more value (or at least perceived value) for stadium tickets. The league is starting to do that. Wireless Internet, links to player audio you can't get at home and more are just some ideas they have come up with.

Anymore with HD TVs and the endless analysis there is, staying home almost seems like the better way to watch football.

The NFL needs to change something if it wants to avoid an eventual change in fortunes. Since lowering prices doesn't seem like something it wants to do, it is on the right track for changing the game experience.

At least in the short term, fans will have a much better shot of getting to see ALL their teams games on TV in Sundays.

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