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).