Jul 23, 2019

Attendance woes for sporting events were inevitable

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The consumption habits of the modern sports fan is once again a hot topic following Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's mini-rant about college football's declining attendance.

My thought bubble: Is anyone surprised that this is where we ended up? Because this was always where we were headed. For decades, schools and conferences have been making decisions that benefit the TV viewer because that's where the eyeballs are.

  • Conference realignment has radically rewired the landscape, and it's been done mostly in the name of money — much of it coming via broadcast rights.
  • Media coverage has become more nationally-focused, with top programs and future NFL stars commanding more of the spotlight than ever before.

What Fitzgerald said:

"I think phones, I think technology has been the decline in attendance … It's changed the way a lot of young people and younger fans intake."
"The fans that grew up tailgating and going to the stadiums four hours before games are getting a little older. I think the next generations of fans are more reliant on technology. They'd rather have 12 TVs set up in their TV-watching cave than go to a game and experience the pageantry and the tailgating."

The bottom line, per The Athletic's Chris Vannini: "The attendance decline lines up exactly with the expansion of TV coverage and the at-home experience. It's not complicated."

  • "Attendance keeps dropping because money became most important. Ticket prices, parking, scheduling and especially TV. So don't be surprised when people choose TV."

Go deeper:

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How college football is combating attendance woes

Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

College football attendance dipped to its lowest mark in 22 years last season, with every Power 5 conference other than the ACC experiencing a decline.

The big picture: This alarming development is driven by numerous factors, many of which impact society on a macro-level and are out of a university's control (i.e. technology and consumption habits). But other factors — like ticket sales, game day experiences and stadium amenities — can be tinkered with and improved, and athletic departments across the country are laser-focused on doing just that.

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The sports streaming landscape, mapped

The battle to become the next big sports streamer is underway, but unlike the entertainment streaming wars, there isn't a single dominant incumbent that's captured U.S. market share.

Why it matters: Sports could be more consequential than entertainment to the future of live television.

Go deeperArrowAug 13, 2019

Traditional networks revamp offerings for digital consumption

Illustration: Axios Visuals

As the TV news market rapidly transforms, traditional networks are revamping their offerings, with new channels, features and distribution deals designed for digital consumption.

Driving the news: Altice has launched News 12+, a local equivalent of a headline news channel. The product is basically meant for out-of-home television viewing at bars, restaurants and shops in the New York metropolitan area where the News 12 franchises operate.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019