Happy Independence Day! While you are celebrating our countries adoption of the Declaration of Independence you can now add an extra reason to celebrate this fine day. Due to official NFL rule changes the fan experience at the stadium could get a major rehaul and make fan involvement a primary focus. Due to the availability of the NFLs product through online streaming and home viewing the NFL reports that while ratings are at all time highs, attendance continues to slip. Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal reports ticket sales have declined since 2007, and the average game attendance is down 4.5% (link). The NFL should be partly blamed for the decline in ticket sales. They have made the fan experience more comfortable and convenient to not be at the game than to be there. The NFL has been quick to spread NFL content to new technologies shortly after they debut, and because of this the DVR, RedZone channel, and hand held devices are giving fans new access and experiences from the comforts of their homes where the concessions are cheaper, the environment is controlled by the fan, and every seat is a great view of the action.
The NFL put a lot of attention into using the technology available outside of the stadium to keep fans entertained while also increasing market share, but they did it at the expense of the fans who sit in the seats, cheer for the home team on every plan, and eat $5 hotdogs. With a few new ideas and some over due changes the NFL is aimed at making it up to those fans and attract some new ones back to the live action.
The new rule changes are aimed to revamp the in stadium experience, first off by providing unique content only to users in the stadium. One planned change is the addition of WiFi in every stadium where fans can use their mobile devices to listen to players who are wearing microphones. I have always been a fan of the NFL show Sound FX always wanting to listen to more Cardinals clips. I always wanted to hear what's happening in the huddle or listen to Adrian Wilson get the team psyched up for a big stop. Now a fan can get the opportunity to listen to their favorite players, at the game, and add more drama or excitement to the experience.
Perhaps the most important rule change is aimed at creating the "wild stadium atmosphere typical of college football games" (Clark). Teams can now use their video displays, public-address announcers, and other means to incite cheers and lead chants to create noise which can affect the game. In my opinion the Arizona Cardinals have used their array of video boards and sound equipment sparingly to coordinate fans chants or incite cheers. With the rule changes they can display videos of Adrian Wilson laying the wood and Calias Campbell's long arms blocking kick after kick when teams are in crucial third down or field goal situations to get fans cheering, making noise, and hopefully causing more false start penalties.
Roger Goodell recently said that he was envious of the passion that fans display at European soccer matches and wanted to find a way to bring that type of intensity to the NFL. I think with these changes, depending on how teams adopt them, it's one step in the right direction.
What do you think?