HDTV TV is keeping fans home and not at the stadium's

The Spanish Primira, English Premiership, Italian Seires A, German Bundesliga and the French Ligue 1 have started their season’s with a great deal of fanfare and success. In the United States the NFL also got underway with a bang and no matter if was international soccer or American football they all shared something in common. TV ratings were at all-time highs, so you might think all is fine for both the networks and the league.
But there is a trend worth exploring. Almost half of NFL teams are having serious trouble selling tickets to their games. We're not just talking about Jacksonville, Carolina and Cincinnati -- all teams we knew were having possible blackout issues -- but the New York Jets and Giants. Gotham's teams are running ads on all the sports stations in the city trying to sell their premium seats to fans that look at prices and in some cases are being asked to pay double what they paid last season. This, of course, is on top of the new personal seat license -- some of which are in excess of $15,000 a seat.
Fans of all sports in this tough worldwide economy are choosing to stay at home and watch games on TV, where the food is cheaper, the bathroom lines are shorter and parking is not an issue.
The real game changer here is HDTV, with its expanded, clear picture and, in some cases, theatre-quality sound. People can almost have a gameday experience in their own homes. In these tough times, that's an appealing option to have.
From Paris to Hong Kong and here in Washington electronics stores have dropped the prices of HDTVs to an all-time low, and LED and plasma monitors are flying off the shelves. The wildest promotion I found is at Aaron's, which has been offering a "LeBron James-size TV for $199 per month." It is a 73-inch, 1080p DLP HDTV that is 3-D ready.
The networks understand how HD has become a real force in the marketplace.
"We were the first network to broadcast an NFL game in HD," CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus said. "We have embraced the technology and used it on all of our major sports properties from the Super Bowl to the Final Four to the Masters. HD has forever changed the way viewers watch sporting events and TV in general. The picture has never been more colorful or as clear, the audio is theatre quality and we continue to look forward to HD and even 3-D formats becoming more commonplace.
"That said, as a true sports fan I really don't think that anything beats the gameday experience. We know that is how most fans want to watch their sports. But if you can't make it to the game, we certainly have done all we can to make it fun to watch on TV. "
Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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