The USA Today ran a story today about the decline in attendance at NCAA Division I basketball games, both this season and by using data from last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Should the NCAA and its members be worried?

Probably not.  Here is a quick summary of what is happening in the market:

1) The combination of HD television and increased availability of games from regional sport networks and ESPN3 is obviously impacting live attendance, as fans can watch the teams they want to see and if the game turns into a blowout just click the remote.

2) The same thing is happening to the NFL, the crowned prince of sports.With the RedZone and Sunday Ticket package many fans have opted to forgo the expensive ticket to stay home with their TV.

AND they get a better experience.

I don’t see anyone panicking about the NFL’s future.  Nor should the NCAA fret about its attendance issue.

But adjustments may be necessary.  Baseball has shown the way by shrinking the size of its venues over the last thirty years.

Expect a similar trend for NCAA basketball.  I would not be surprised to see Tournament games played in smaller arenas in coming years.

And I expect some programs that play part (or all) of their schedules in NBA arenas may be retreating to their intimate on campus venues virtually guaranteeing sellouts and a raucous game day environment.

Empty seats look bad on TV. And TV is paying more of the bills with its increased distribution of the product.

And the increased distribution of the televised sport product is causing changes in the way fans consume sports and how universities, teams and leagues manage their ticket inventory.

Advertisements