Have you ever been at an NFL game, trying to check stats and scores across the league on your smartphone? If you have, it’s likely that you didn’t make it past the home page of your browser of choice. The simple problem is that wireless networks aren’t built to handle 20,000 people all trying to surf the web at the same time, in the same space. The NFL realizes that problem, and they want to fix it.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants wifi in NFL stadiums and readily available to fans on the devices that fans routinely bring to the game, most notably, smartphones.
“We believe that it is important to get technology into our stadiums. We have made the point repeatedly that the experience at home is outstanding, and we have to compete with that in some fashion by making sure that we create the same kind of environment in our stadiums and create the same kind of technology.” -Roger Goodell
In this case, and it’s a rare case to be sure, I agree with the league’s top man. I rarely go to games for a variety of reasons. First off, I live in an NFL market, but I don’t cheer for that team. Games are also very, very expensive. When games are free to watch on network television, it’s very difficult for the NFL to compete with the at-home experience.
It’s no secret that going to NFL games is not for everyone. The experience is marketed towards people with a comfortable level of disposable income. After all, people with plenty of cash on hand tend to spend more. Those are also the people that are more likely to have a smartphone, making the addition of a capable wifi network at each stadium a high priority endeavor by the league. It’s not a move that’s likely to be the difference between a sellout and a blackout, but it may attract a few more fans to compete for coveted tickets. And if you know anything about economics, you know that an increase in demand with no change in supply results in a higher selling price, and that’s something the NFL is all about.