Anyone who’s in the sports industry knows it to be true: as more and more fans become complacent with the “at-home experience,” ticket revenue is in jeopardy.
Organizations aren’t losing money because there’s a lack of interest in sports. In fact, watching sports is more popular than ever: the average football television rating, for example, is up 15 percent from five seasons ago.
Still, there’s been a steady decrease in live game attendance, as 4.5 percent fewer fans are attending today’s games than they did five years ago.
Why aren't people going to games?
High-definition, large-screen TVs with theater-caliber sound have turned couch-potatoing into sports fans' favorite activity. Not to mention it's hard to compete with the comforts of your own bathroom, a stocked refrigerator and free parking.
It's time they invite fans to come closer to their teams than ever before as a reward for investing their time and money to physically be there. Below are four ways to make live games more exciting for fans.
1. Replay reviews
Now, when challenges are made to an official’s call on the field, referees or umpires huddle to discuss the decision and retreat to a sideline phone call for the final ruling — to either overturn or support the call — from league officials that analyze the play in New York.
Fans don’t get to hear any of that conversation. In the stadium or ballpark, they should be able to. That's a hefty dose of transparency, but what's there to hide? The play already happened. The analyzation of the play shouldn't be a secret anyways.
2. pull back the strategic curtain
Teams could enhance the game experience by explaining their strategy to fans in real time — or quickly after.
Consider this scenario: A baseball manager calls on a pinch-hitter or relief pitcher in a crucial inning. How cool would it be if fans could hear the manager explain what he was thinking at the next break in the action — perhaps between innings — either by smartphone app or live on the ballpark scoreboard?
3. Mic ’em up
Fans watching at home often get to hear players or coaches wearing microphones, giving them a better feel for the game and insight into conversations and banter between players during the action. Those actually at the game get none of that.
Fix it. In fact, give in-person fans even more of the chatter (even if it’s delayed and edited to avoid accidentally putting something out there inappropriately).
4. provide a lot of real-time stats
Many stadiums are already being wired for this. Viewers at home are showered with game stats, including some of the most obscure. Fans at the games should be treated to that data and more on their smartphones.
What is a pitcher’s history against a certain hitter? How well does the opposing basketball team’s center shoot from the foul line? How many interceptions does that give our Pro Bowl linebacker? Post stats on the scoreboard or send them to curious fans as alerts on their cell phones.
We’re not worried about the future of sports. Despite our plea to make live games more fun, increased at-home access just means that more people can tune into the action, creating a bigger and more pervasive sports culture.