The NFL recognized more than two years ago that technology was making it easier and cheaper for fans to get a great game-day experience by staying at home rather than buying tickets.
To reverse that trend, the league looked to leverage technology as a way of luring fans to the stadium while also devising a new revenue stream for the teams.
The latest development is a new app that the NFL has approved, and it will allow fans to be closer than ever to the action on the field ... as well as the cheerleaders. Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily reports that the NFL has launched a partnership with the app developer Experience. The collaboration will allow fans to upgrade their seats, score pre- and post-game on-field experiences and even, if they so desire, order cheerleaders to their seats.
The Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tested the program last season. The app itself won't cost fans any money because its functions will be embedded into the team's app. But experiences such as seat upgrades and time with cheerleaders will require a fee, which is the revenue opportunity for the clubs.
These app-activated experiences varied by team. Seahawks fans could kick field goals after the games while the Falcons allowed users to avoid long waits to get into the stadium. The Falcons branded each experience a "Memory" and said they sold about 800 per game.
As many as half of the NFL's teams may be onboard with the app during the 2014 season.
"Anything from pregame on-field, to a birthday message, to cheerleader visits, to mascot visits, to the fly-by pass, which is a dedicated lane where you don’t wait to get into the stadium," Jim Smith, the Falcons' chief marketing officer, told Kaplan. "All the experiential things sold out within the first four hours they were made available."
This partnership is in sync with the NFL's push to make the in-stadium experience more enjoyable for fans by encouraging teams to increase the reach of stadium Wi-Fi. Another mandate was that clubs install cameras in the home team's locker room.
The average NFL ticket price last season was $81.54, and the cost for a family of four to attend an NFL game was nearly $460, according to the Fan Cost Index. This cost is based on four tickets, plus two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, two game programs, two adult-size adjustable caps, and parking. There are more frugal ways to attend a game than the basis of the index, but it is still another reminder that the NFL is running a business.