Season Tickets or HDTV? Fans Face A Choice And HD May Be Winning

By Dan Daley
High-definition
picture and 5.1 surround audio might be pulling people out of the seats
at sports stadiums. In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press,
Minnesota Vikings v.p. of sales & marketing Steve LaCroix suggests
that a dip in ticket sales is attributable at least in part to how good
HD looks and sounds. The Vikings recently announced that its 2008 season
ticket base will be 55,000, the same as last year and 6,000 less than
a few years ago.
“I
don’t think the renewal percentage is a factor of a fan-base erosion
or anything,” LaCroix stated. “It’s just a matter of the challenge
of the Metrodome and people leaving their high-definition televisions
at home to come sit in the Metrodome in some of the upper sections.”
Fox Sports broadcasts the Vikings’ regular-season games in HD.
Television
consultant and pundit Phillip Swann, who published the report on his
TVPrediction.com website, told SVG that LaCroix’s comments might suggest
that sports teams will have a greater challenge in the years ahead as
networks and regional sports channels expand their HD lineups.
“With
ticket prices rising, more fans may be content to watch the games at
home, particularly since they have already invested heavily in those
[systems],” he says. “Surround audio is part of the overall experience
and why some people are staying at home instead of coming to the stadiums.”
Between the lower cost of HDTVs and surround systems, and a softening
economy, Swann adds, “Without question, the heightened experience
of seeing and hearing sports in HD at home will cause more sports fans
to ask themselves, do I buy the big screen and speakers or do I buy
season tickets?”