Downward trend? Is this something you've heard on the radio or read somewhere? Everything I read/hear says NFL is going gangbusters.
I would love to read anything that says otherwise, just to knock Herr Gooddell down a notch or five.
Well, it's something that's been floating around rumorville for a while. It really depends on what you're looking at and how you're measuring things...
Part of CapGate was to redistribute money from the Redskins and Cowboys so that teams could see an increase in their salary cap. The cap is (as far as I'm aware) built around revenue being generated. If there were no salary cap penalties, and hence redistribution of cap space, 2011 would have been the first year in a long time that the salary cap actually decreased. This has sparked all kinds of speculation about the true motives for the penalties... But the takeaway is that without the penalty and redistribution of cap space, teams would have lost cap room, which means revenue fell.
In addition to that, there are stadiums all around the country that are either having blackouts, or are close to it. Jacksonville has tarped off a huge section of seats and still suffers blackouts (If you tarp a section they don't count against you for blackouts, but you can't remove the tarp and use the seats at any point in the season.) In general game attendance is down. There are lots of places to look fro that, here's one from last year - After peaking in 2007, NFL attendance steadily has declined | ProFootballTalk
Then you have the NFL Sunday Ticket issue with DirecTV. The exclusive contract required DirecTV to have a certain number of subscribers to keep the exclusivity deal intact, which is why you could negotiate the price lower ever year if you tried. Well, they eventually lost that, you can now get Sunday ticket over your PS3. So those numbers are down.
Then you had the walking dead season finale outdraw a prime time Sunday Night NFL game. I don't believe that was a stellar matchup on the NFL's behalf that night, but still...
Add to it the recent rule changes about being blacked out (owners can buy up unsold seats at a fraction of the cost to avoid being blacked out. psst - this is what our owner does, overseer of the 'longest sellout streak in the league')
The NFL still dominates all the other sports. A good Sunday night or Monday night matchup will outdraw all the other shows combined.
This is also a trend being observed in College Football right now.
So, it's a downward trend if you think these things mean anything. The NFL fights very hard to keep this stuff under wraps. You get pieces of it here and there, but without someone keeping track of it all to connect the dots for you it would be really hard to follow and recognize (a show I listen to does a pretty good job of talking about this issue.)
If one, or more, of these stadiums is blacked out... a home playoff game... that would be a new low in the modern era of NFL football.
I don't see stadium attendance doing anything but going down. The number of people that truly enjoy the stadium experience, and can afford (in terms of money and
time) to go on a regular basis, is just dwindling. They'd rather sit on their couch. I don't know how you fix that.
My fear is that they'll try to fix it by doing 'stadium experience' things, when what they really need to do is lower the cost of admission and get the working class football fan back in. But given the trend in recent stadium constructions I don't see it happening.