“We’re competing more than ever before against the television product we helped create,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “There’s no line at the restroom, the beer is always cold [at home]. You don’t have to invest 8 hours going to the stadium. There’s no parking fees. You don’t have to pay seat license, and on your 70-inch TV it’s a pretty good viewing experience.”
The reasons for attendance drop off are burned into the synapses of college marketers – lack of in-stadium WiFi, shifting game times, student apathy, ticket prices, the conveniences that Bowlsby mentioned.
The challenge is to make the game more of an experience than a win-lose proposition.
The main problem is that because of ESPN the only games that really matter on a national lever are Alabama games and the Alabama Invitational after the season. There is no reason for the casual fan to go to the stadium.
11 am games in 100 degree heat don’t help at all. Also mid week games are not really that great. These type games are killing the non P5 schools. You can’t watch all the games on TV - there must be 6 or more channels showing a game at the same time. 30 Bowl games which are mostly not within in easy driving distance are having the same effect unless your in the top few bowls.
When colleges put restrictions on fans, it hacks them off. When told you can no longer do what you’ve always done, it’s a turn off. When you make the experience harder and harder to get into, one would think I don’t have to go through this, I can just watch it on TV. I’m talking about the shakedown before getting into games just making the entry more of a hassle and line longer. People don’t like lines and don’t like being treated like criminal suspects.
I don’t know how it is now, but back in the 60’s when I was a student at LSU, people could bring in coolers, though few did – but they could.
The clear bag policy and no more backpacks are silly. I don’t know if the clear bag is more for safety or to ensure that no one sneaks in outside goodies instead of buying from the vendors. One never knows whether it will rain or not and being able to bring in a backpack with real raincoats or ponchos instead of those flimsy plastic ones that are thinner than a trash bag, along with a stadium blanket for the little lady, should not be a problem.
Oh, and the prices are going up and up. Young families are faced with high prices for all those things that the kids want and each needs. Water for example. $5.00 for a bottle of water that costs 8 cents is excessive. Water is not a luxury in the heat we are subjected to.
The thing is, one by one, the little things add up to where a guy one day says, I’ve had enough and I’m staying home. I’m sure we hard core guys will keep going as long as we are able, regardless of the hassle; but there just aren’t enough of us to float the program.
All good points. I haven’t looked at attendance numbers for each game but if I had to guess I would think the biggest factor has to do with the lack of interest halfway through the season knowing your team has no shot at a 4-team playoff and nothing to cheer about when you’re stuck in the Potato Bowl. This is especially true for all the fans at G5 schools. The simple solution would be to expand the playoffs to include every conference champion to maintain interest towards the end of the season.
The expanded playoff would help a lot, but I think that’s just one component. Most have already been mentioned here or in the article. Crappy TV play times, unfortunately there not a ton that can be done about that unless there’s a general football strike against that. Costs I don’t think that needs anymore explanation. B
But to me the biggest thing in a schools control is making sure that gameday is the best experience that it can be. So better food vendors, I think play areas for the smaller kids would be awesome. Entertainment pregame/tailgate. Just anything else that makes the experience stand out to keep folks coming back, have a great time and spending money.
It’s just a matter of time before the smaller D1 programs drop down or out all together. We just got a lifeline with a $5 million bump to keep us in the black. What does a team like Toledo do with the meager MAC money, little TV revenue and small attendance?
ESPN controls the playoffs and the P5 conferences. The P5’s are happy to keep the money among themselves, though an expanded playoff – like the FCS Division – would make the pie so big, everyone would benefit and the P5’s would still get as much as they do now. But, not only is greed in play, so is the smug desire for power – the we are better than you underlings and we are powerful enough to keep you down attitude is a big driver. Lord knows, we can’t have the peasants play in the same parks as the aristocracy.
As a footnote about the TV experience, I would also lay some of the blame on the rise of conference networks. Thanks to them, no longer are Big 10, SEC or PAC 12 games against FCS or Sunbelt schools untelevised. If you were a dyed in the wool fan of one of their schools as recently as the late nineties and early two thousands, a big chunk of your non-conference games (and even some games within your conference) would be untelevised; meaning you’d have to go to the game or listen to it on the radio.
Untelevised games were a lot of fun to go to here in Texas because kickoff was always late enough to avoid afternoon heat and give folks plenty of time to tailgate.
Wait, just so I understand, we get an additional $5 mil from ESPN and we still have to hit the students? I thought the massive tv dollar increase, concessions and NY6 bowl money plus other conference bowl money splits should help us get into the black? Serious question.
Most schools lose money on athletics, even schools in the P5. In 2016-17 UH subsidized athletics by about 25 million dollars. The link below will tell you how much each athletics department made in revenue, spent and how much of the revenue was a subsidy.