Why Has NFL Attendance Declined by Over 2 Million Fans in the Last 36 Months?

The National Football League is king when it comes to total revenue for a professional sports league; yet they are still losing fan attendance. “Last year, the average NFL game drew just 64,698 fans, the lowest average since 1998.” That along with the below table suggests that this drop of fans attending games has been going on for a while. The table shows that in 2011, 20,336,000 fans attended games. Then just 3 years later, that number has dropped by 2,131,000 fans to 18,205,000. So where have all of the fans gone?

Online streaming to blame?

Some may think that online streaming is to blame. Due the recent growth in technology in the past decade, sports have taken a hit in their yearly attendances and the NFL, while being a huge contender and having the top total earnings for all professional sports leagues in the United States, is no exception. Many of the NFL’s fans do not actually have to attend a game to see it and now they do not even have to be home at a particular time to watch the game on television and the use of online streaming is to blame. You can now be anywhere with internet connection and watch a game at any time that you want after it has happened or you can also watch it live! The convenience of not even having to leave the comfort of your own home or take off time from work is playing a huge factor in the drop in attendance. The NFL has done this to itself because they created these multimedia packages and allowed its constituents to be able to access their content online with the NFL Mobile Network. So by them trying to branch out and gain more fans, they have also hurt themselves at home with fan attendance.


Cost of attendance too high?

Another thing to consider is the cost of attending a game may be too high. You not only have to fork over a large amount of money for a ticket but you also have to consider parking, food, drinks, etc. According to Yahoo Sports, it costs an average of $443.93 to attend an NFL game when everything is taken into consideration.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Ryan Hughes. You can learn more about Ryan Hughes at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-hughes/b8/a89/54a


WISE, B. (2012). WHERE’D EVERYBODY GO?. Scholastic Math33(5), 10.

Table: (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2015, from http://www.sbrnet.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/research.aspx?subrid=534

Picture: (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2015, from google images

14 thoughts

  1. Well, ticket prices are likely one reason but the other is related to a certain US racial demographic abandoning the game in droves. The USA is made up of about 75% of this racial demographic and yet only 28% of the NFL’s players are from this racial demographic. What would you expect? If for whatever reason the preferences trend toward a particular minority group (68% of NFL players are of one minority group) then the other groups and their children flock to a different sport or sports. This will have a detrimental effect upon the NFL’s fan base as a whole. The NBA is in a similar dilema with declining attendance numbers. The NBA’s numbers are even worse with 74.4% of its players coming from one particular minority group and only 23.3% from the group that makes up 75% of the US population. It’s certainly not about athletes as MLB, NHL, MLS and other professional sports leagues don’t have this lopsided racial demographic issue and yet those pro sports leagues are seeing much better attendance numbers. The NHL is surpassing the NBA, MLB is holding strong, and the MLS is setting attendance records. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing but one thing is certain, kids of that 75% racial demographic are flocking to these sports or alternative sports like LaCrosse. Kids from this group simply aren’t playing the game and they and their parents are becoming fans of other sports. Finally, the NFL has always looked to exploitable athletes to fill their ranks. Athletes who will do almost anything to get out of their current situation and so too has the NBA. They’ve always relied heavily upon poorer inner city or rural kids to fill their ranks. Kids who will break bones, suffer bodily injury, or get with the program (I.E. use PEDs) Not sure how they (NFL/NBA) go about fixing their racist issues?


  2. We have to keep in mind that the NFL experienced significant growth through mass media campaigns with women and children unlike ever before in it’s long, rich history. So the sudden decline isn’t symbolic of its truest fan base, which consists of males between the ages of 14 and 65, but of the morbid increase of women and children.

    Jamie C.V. Strong/author of The Wellington Ratio, and TV host of The Jamie Strong Show.


  3. Well, I’m not going to attend any games, watch any games on TV, or buy any NFL merchandise until ALL the players stand for the National Anthem.


  4. I have quit watching any game where a player takes a knee. We the fans pay the players salary. I refuse to pay money to something that insults me. I face book my friends and ask them to boycott those games as well. Car racing and the x games can work fine for those of us who are turned off by such actions.


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