SBD/September 6, 2013/NFL Season Preview

Patriots' Brand Unfazed By Off-Field Troubles As Ticket Sales, Ratings Remain Strong

Fans want the Patriots to be more selective about taking on players
The Patriots' brand "appears as strong as ever" entering the '13 NFL season, as it is "undented by shortfalls and transgressions that might doom another business," according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. Despite an offseason that included the Aaron Hernandez scandal and the arrest of CB Alfonzo Dennard, each of the team's four preseason games "was the top-rated television program in the Boston market during the week it was played." Every home game "has sold out before the first snap of the fall" for the 20th straight year, and TiqIQ indicates fans are "shelling out an average of $365.98 on the secondary market for a seat at Gillette Stadium." More than 60,000 people have "paid $100 just to get on a waiting list for season tickets." In a region "full of fans who love their sports teams -- and love to scrutinize them -- the Pats have cultivated a uniquely loyal following." Even the "mighty Red Sox proved susceptible to fan revolt after the team’s epic collapse" at the end of the '11 MLB season. Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said that the Patriots' on-field success has "glossed over" recent off-field infractions that "may cause fans to raise their eyebrows." However, Borchers cites a recent Channel Media survey of New England sports as showing that fans "want the Patriots to be more selective about taking on troubled players, and treat proven players fairly." Since the end of last season, the Patriots have parted ways with WR Wes Welker, "a bedrock of the offense for six years," and P Zoltan Mesko, one of the team's "most active volunteers." But Borchers writes, "Don't expect local fans to sour on the Patriots, unless their tumultuous offseason is followed by a stunning collapse on the gridiron" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/6).

PATRIOT MISSILE: Boston-based WBZ-CBS earned a 14.6 local rating for the Giants-Patriots game on Aug. 30, marking the fourth straight week that a Patriots preseason game was the most-watched program in the market. Each of the team's four games (three on WBZ, one national game on Fox) averaged above a 14.4 rating (Patriots).
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