Economy hits sports hard“Take me out to the ballgame,” the old song goes. Americans, however, may have been too busy channel surfing to do that this year. Television, it turns out, was where Americans turned to satisfy their craving for sports in the recession-plagued year of 2009.
By: By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer, The Jamestown Sun
“Take me out to the ballgame,” the old song goes. Americans, however, may have been too busy channel surfing to do that this year.
Television, it turns out, was where Americans turned to satisfy their craving for sports in the recession-plagued year of 2009.
With fewer dollars to spend, many fans resorted to the “cave model,” hunkering down at home to watch the game instead of heading to the ballpark to see it live.
Buoyed by the Yankees in the World Series, baseball’s TV ratings were up. The NFL is still the NFL — no slowing down America’s favorite televised sport.
College football ratings increased over 2008 and the NBA enjoyed its best viewership since the days of Michael Jordan. Advertisers could bank on more eyeballs for their buck, though they weren’t always so fast to sign on.
“One thing you might see more of in the future is that people are going to take the money they would’ve invested in tickets and invest in a home theater system, so they can stay home and watch it on TV,” said Bill Sutton of University of Central Florida’s DeVos business management department.
Through 14 weeks this year, 20 NFL games had been blacked out because they failed to sell out, compared to only nine all last season. The league also reported a 3 percent decline in attendance. But games on TV were averaging 16.7 million viewers, the highest average at this point in the season since 1989 — an encouraging statistic for advertisers though it still didn’t prevent Pepsi from ending its 23-year run of placing ads on the Super Bowl telecast.
Indeed, the changing media landscape brought about new business models, while the shrinking economy restricted profits — making it a mixed-bag kind of year for the sports industry.
Baseball attendance decreased by 6.9 percent, to its lowest levels since 2003, though part of the decline could be attributed to the Yankees and Mets moving into smaller ballparks.
The Yankees opened their new stadium and tried to sell front-row tickets for $2,500, but quickly found there was little market at that price and discounted them by $1,000. As the season progressed, they found that the old formula of winning — and being in New York — keeps the turnstiles moving.
A number of NBA teams went on aggressive price-slashing programs, trying to sell affordability — never a hallmark of a league that pays some of its bench players $9 million a season — to fans who were feeling priced out of the game even before the downturn hit.
Many NHL and baseball teams did the same thing. Take out a few exceptions — notably, the Yankees, Mets and Dallas Cowboys, with their inflated prices in new stadiums — and the price of tickets for America’s four major sports went down slightly in 2009.