SBD/18/Leagues Governing Bodies

SI's "SCORECARD" CHECKS THE PULSE OF THE NFL'S GRIP ON FANS

          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).

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