The future – live events funding free content?

Major League Baseball team the New York Mets are suffering falling attendances, despite the attraction of their new $800 million stadium, Citi Field..

The New York Times reports that the average attendance so far this season, after 22 home matches, is 31,892, compared to 38,744 last season. The 18-per-cent drop is puts the Mets second in percentage terms in falling MLB attendances this season. The Cleveland Indians are down 30 per cent on their last year’s average, although this translates to a loss of only 6,585 fans a game, less than the Mets’ 6,852.

Bad weather and poor performances by the Mets are being blamed.

“The problem is last year the tickets were really expensive and the team stunk and that can really stick with fans for a while,” said Jon Greenberg, the executive editor of Team Marketing Report, a sports industry research company.

Greenberg said a trend of new stadiums boosting ticket sales that was evident in the 1990s had tailed away.

“Stadium fatigue sets in much faster than it did before.”

The Mets cut ticket prices by up to 20 per cent after last season – their first at Citi Field – in an effort to pre-empt the “stadium fatigue”. However its monthly report to the MLB’s commissioner’s office in March, showed ticket sales had dropped 40 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

via sportbusiness.com

With more and more content appearing free, or nearly free of charge – such as Spotify and iPlayer, there is a widespread opinion that live events will become more popular.

There are more music concerts than ever before, and these are likely to remain premium, high ticket cost (with a huge reliance on revenue from merchandise and other outlets at the venue).

However, American sport is the first report that I’ve seen which shows that even live events are being hit. This may be due to the recession last year, and this article suggests it’s also to do with team performances.

If I was a media owner distributing my content for free, this article may provide some worrying evidence of having to find yet another business model.

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