The NFL, America's biggest money-making behemoth this side of the Avengers films - doesn't have much trouble making a buck these days.... on television. Not when networks are begging for the opportunity to pay north of $100 million to broadcast a single game. As for getting fans to actually show up and watch the games in person, though, that's where the league is beginning to run into trouble.
The NFL product on television has become almost too good. When a 72-inch, high definition view of the game, with unlimited beer and pizza and fully-serviced phone or laptop ready to deliver fantasy statistics comes at a fraction of the price of actually driving an hour-plus to the game, dropping hundreds of dollars on parking and concessions on top of the ticket cost, and missing out on a day of fantasy scores and other action from around the league, it's an easy choice for most fans. The La-Z-Boy wins every time.
Boosting in stadium Wi-Fi is great, but the live experience has to offer something exclusive to get the average fan off his couch. College football has the band, the student section and a tradition of pageantry, and the NFL has... cheerleaders.
According to Sports Business Journal, the NFL has partnered with app developer Experience to, you guessed it, enhance the in-stadium experience at games. The Atlanta Falcons used the service last year, offering it to 3,000 season ticket holders. It worked as a link within an official team app, and it offers a set of experiences fans can purchase throughout the stadium.
“Anything from pregame on-field, to a birthday message, to cheerleader visits, to mascot visits, to the fly-by pass, which is a dedicated lane where you don’t wait to get into the stadium,” Falcons chief marketing officer Jim Smith, the Falcons’ told SBJ. “All the experiential things sold out within the first four hours they were made available.”
The team says they sold an average of 800 experiences per game.
Experience expects half the league to sign up for the 2014 season. Teams can customize experiences they would like to offer. For instance, the Seattle Seahawks sold the opportunity to attend Pete Carroll's post-game press conference or kick field goals on the field after the game.