Dallas Cowboys Remain One Of Biggest NFL Road Draws, Despite 5-5 Record

Ronald Martinez

The Dallas Cowboys are the third biggest road draw in the NFL behind only the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.

Vivid Seats, a secondary-ticket marketplace, just released a report about which NFL teams are the best and worst road draws of the 2013 season through 11/19.

The result: The Dallas Cowboys are the third biggest road draw in the NFL, increasing ticket prices by 25.6% as the road opponent. The 9-1 Denver Broncos top the list, driving up ticket prices on the secondary market by 37.1% as the visiting opponent, closely followed by the 7-3 New England Patriots with 33.9%. The 49ers (+25.6%) and Packers (+19.9%) round out the top 5.

As you would expect, the Jaguars are the worst road draw in the league, decreasing ticket prices by 37.9% as the visiting team. The Cardinals (-33.4%) and Rams (-29.9%) follow as the least sought after road opponents. Here's the full list:

Nfl_road_draws_medium

It's interesting to note that there is almost no correlation (r²=0.16) between a team's current record and its attractiveness as a road draw. Just like the Cowboys, neither the Packers nor the Steeers have a winning record, yet both sit at the top of the list of biggest road draws. Conversely, the Cardinals and Panthers are not a good road draw despite their winning records.

The other NFC East teams aren't much of a road draw, but at least they can be found in the top half of the ranking above. Overall, the four NFC East teams have the best combined value of any division in the NFL - despite getting a lot of grief about being the worst division in football. That distinction, at least in terms of the impact on the home team's prices, belongs to the AFC South, where the Colts (-12.2%), Texans (-14.5%), Titans (-23.1%) and Jaguars (-37.9%) combine for the worst value of all divisions.

For the 2013 season, the NFL teams are charging an average of $82 per game for general season ticket holders, up 3% from last year, according to Team Marketing Report's annual "Fan Cost Index." Add the average price of parking (a ridiculous $31 on average) and two beers (at an average of $7 each) and two fans will end up coughing up $209 on game day on average - if they don't get hungry, don't tailgate and don't succumb to the many, many other ways the NFL has devised to make fans part with their cash.

In 2008, only five teams (Oakland, St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, and Detroit) played to stadiums less than 95 percent full. That number has doubled this season: Through week 11, ten teams have failed to get their home games more than 95 percent full.

At the same time, TV ratings for the NFL are at an all time high, as Sports Business Daily writes:

Through the first nine weeks this season, the league has averaged an astounding 18.4 million viewers a game on CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC. That figure is up 5 percent through the same period last year.

None of the league’s network partners has seen NFL ratings drop through the first nine weeks this season. NFL Network (up 8 percent) and Fox (up 7 percent) have posted the biggest gains.

Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that half of regular football fans prefer watching NFL games at home over watching them live, even if they were offered free tickets. The NFL is struggling to maintain fan interest in the live product, in part because of the quality of the TV and broadcast offering, but in part also due to a pricing policy that has seen ticket prices climb by more than 50% over the past decade, while parking prices have more than doubled, according to the Fan Cost Index.

Realizing their dilemma with the live product, the NFL has significantly softened its rules on local blackouts: Instead of having to sell all of their tickets to avoid a local blackout, teams only need to reach an 85% threshold this year. Also, owners can now buy up surplus tickets at 34 percent of face value to reach the 85%. It's only by relaxing its own rules that the NFL PR machine can continue blasting headlines like "NFL makes it through 12 weeks with no blackouts" across our screens.

That makes it 12 weeks in a row, every game this season, that games will be shown on local TV. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, it’s the first time since the blackout policy was implemented in 1973 that there haven’t been any blackouts in the first 12 weeks of the season.

What reads like a great success is in fact the exact opposite; the NFL is in trouble with its live product. Every year, fewer people can afford it, and increasingly, people simply don't want it anymore. Had the NFL kept its previous blackout rules in place, blackouts would likely have been higher than they've been at any time in the last ten years, and probably even longer than that - and the media may have been all over that story. As it is, the only thing you're reading are copy/paste jobs from NFL press releases.

For the NFL, everything is sunshine and rainbows as long as the ratings continue to climb, but owners of teams who regularly sell out their games at home and on the road, are not going to sit idly by as other teams fail to bring in the money. Because of the NFL's revenue sharing agreement, successful teams are effectively subsidizing the less successful teams, and there's increasing pressure for the underperformers to start carrying their own weight and find ways to increase their own revenue streams. You know, like, build a stadium or something. Or move to LA. Or London.

Or something.

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