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SI's "SCORECARD" CHECKS THE PULSE OF THE NFL'S GRIP ON FANS
Published September 18, 1997
The NFL has the "most dedicated TV audience of any U.S. pro league, but fans aren't packing stadiums to see games," according to SI's "Scorecard," which notes the number of blackouts through the first three weeks of the season. Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen: "There are lots of reasons you can identify. I think the least reasonable reason is that the game is not as popular." Bowlen also noted the season's early start and said that "turnout will pick up in the weeks ahead." SI: "Others in the NFL say the high rate of blackouts is merely coincidence, that some of the softer markets just happened to be hosting games at the same time. But it's also possible that rising ticket costs, a dearth of must-see visiting teams ... and rosters constantly reshuffled ... have dampened fans' loyalty." Also mentioned is the rise of NFL's Sunday Ticket, which is in 400,000 homes, and is "cheaper" and guarantees access to every game." SI adds that the NFL "may also be slow in catering to its stadium-going fans." Sales consultant Bob Leffler, who represents three NFL teams: "In many cities, the clubs have to market the product better" (SI, 9/22).