Give the Jacksonville Jaguars credit for thinking outside the box. The one National Football League team which has consistently struggled to sell tickets in the last half-decade is tinkering with new ideas to enhance the in-stadium fan experience. Team president Mark Lamping told The Sports Business Journal this week that his team was exploring the possibility of showing The NFL Redzone Channel during the game when his stadium's new 300-foot video boards are completed in 2014.
Of course in our ever-critical world, this news was met with nothing but sarcasm and snickering. People claim it is a sad commentary on our society's pathetically tiny attention span.
However, I actually love the idea. For years I have said every time I go to an Eagles or Ravens game that if the NFL were smart they would just show sponsored highlights from the other games during the interminable television timeouts that occur constantly throughout an NFL contest. With the technology these teams have at their fingertips, there is no excuse not to keep fans constantly abreast of what's going on at all of the other stadiums. And the companies sponsoring these packages would certainly draw more attention than by putting their name behind some promotion people don't really care all that much about.
What the Jaguars are doing is basically that on steroids. There is so much downtime in football that fans can pay attention to the game in front of them while sneaking a peak between plays at how their fantasy team or their three-team teaser is doing. My only concern is that the Jaguars will turn The Redzone Channel off when it is needed most (during those seemingly never-ending commercial breaks). If they do that, this development is not nearly as exciting.
If not though, this could be the breakthrough the NFL was frantically searching for to keep people coming to its games in droves. HD television has made it so easy to stay at home and enjoy the game from your couch. After all, it's infinitely more comfortable, parking is free, beer and food are way cheaper and the temperature tends to be more pleasant during the winter time. Still, at home you cannot get the rush of the crowd. If you combine that with the ability to tailgate and you throw in much less idle down time, suddenly attending the game in person has its appeal back.
The Jaguars are visionaries. Mark my words; Within five years the rest of the NFL will all be following suit.