Attendance at live sporting events has been on the decline for years  and it doesn’t seem like teams/owners know how to reverse the trend nor are they really seeing it as true problem. This attendance decline was most evident last year with the MLB. 2018 was the 6th consecutive season that fewer people had attended MLB games than they had before…there was a 10% drop within the first two months of the season from the same period in 2017. Executives and owners cited things such as weather, scheduling, ticket prices, “tanking” and home viewing as possible culprits for the lack of fans in the stands.
But attendance has been down for most sports (with the exception of the NBA), especially major college athletics. Even the WWE has been dealing with a 7% decline in live attendance. NCAA FBS has been hit extremely hard by the attendance decline. In 2017, attendance dropped 3% — the largest per-game attendance drop in 34 years and the 2nd largest decrease ever, leading to four straight years of decline. The demographic that has been hit the largest is student attendees. No longer do they consider college football a vital part of college life like they have in the past.
This is a long-term problem that teams and owners must deal with and not brush to the side. Sure, they make the bulk of their revenue from television deals and sponsorships and only a small percentage comes from attendance revenue. But the industry must remember that they have to put fans first, especially those who spend good money to weather the elements, traffic and crowds to experience a game live…they are more than just “butts in a seat”, they are your “why.”
Fans are getting bored with the live sports experience (inconvenient TV timeouts/delays, traffic, crowds, lack of alcohol (at most college events), spotty WiFi, etc.) and it pales in comparison to the home viewing experience with its comforts and personalization. But there is still hope for the sports industry if they are willing to treat this as a serious problem and invest more time and energy into finding a solution and getting back to the basics – putting fans first.
The sports industry has to look no further than their next door neighbor, the music industry…they seem to be getting it right. Millennial attendance alone at music festivals has nearly doubled with 84% of fans saying they attend to escape the daily grind. Fans appreciate that venues and event organizers focus on developing ambiance and activities because after all, it’s all about the overall experience. Of the 52% of Americans who attend live shows every year, 23% spend money in-venue outside of the price of the ticket. So not only are fans showing up and enjoying themselves, they’re spending more money once they do on things like merch and concessions. A lot of festivals and bigger-named musical acts are using apps and technology to cultivate more curated and personalized experiences for their fans. Using readily available data about their fans, they can create are more holistic viewing experience for their fans by helping them be a part of a community and better tailoring their sponsorships and activations to their fans preferences.
By effectively harnessing their fan-analytics ahead of time and really understanding their fan base, the sports industry can cultivate “satisfied” fans who keep coming back, just like the music industry does. Most teams have the data (or at least some of it) but it’s a matter of analyzing and knowing what to do with it and then implementing those elements into the game day that make their fans feel valued. So what will you do today to serve your fans better and keep them showing up in the stands?
Bandwagon’s fan analytics platform, Aura, helps teams, venues, and event organizers harness the power of their data to create the ultimate fan experience. Learn how Aura can help you take your experiences to the next level.