It gives me no pleasure to report that in the 20+ years I have participated in the stadium experience at Redskins home games, things have taken a turn for the worse inside the gates this season. This is about more than a few unruly fans ruining it for others. This is about more than people pulling back on one too many in the parking lot and starting trouble in their sections. This has to do with the actions of the organization itself.
THE COMMERCIALS ARE BACK...AND WORSE THAN EVER!!!
A few years ago, some of you may remember a letter campaign we attempted to organize where we respectfully inquired about the airing of endless commercials during games. We believe that we were not the only ones who were finding them detrimental to the experience, and sure enough, we noticed that the organization toned it down--for a while.
Once again, we are seeing an incredibly high volume of commercials at the stadium, played over the loudspeakers at an incredibly high volume. Listen, in this day and age, there is a cost to do business, and advertising pays the bills. I get it. What I don't get is how anyone thinks that people are going to shell out their money and their free time to watch a TV they don't have any control over. It is bad enough when I can't change the channel at someone else's house when the commercials come on. I have zero desire to sit in traffic for hours and find myself trapped in my seat as one insanely loud commercial is blasted after another. It is very Clockwork Orange-esque.
When the commercial comes on at home, what do you do? You click over to the other games on...why don't they do that at FedEx Field? Put a Papa John's logo in the corner of the screen! Everyone will see it because everyone will watch that! If you have NFL RedZone at home, you're telling me you NEVER click over to it? Why don't they do that at FedEx Field? You can't possibly convince me that it wouldn't be as much of a commercial for the channel itself (owned by the NFL) as it would be entertaining for the fans. Put a Eureka logo in the corner of the screen. Hell, you could probably charge them more to sponsor the RedZone cutaways all day.
The stadium experience already is losing out to the at-home NFL viewing experience because of the amazing way they bring you the action through your own HDTV. Basements and mancaves have a huge leg up because of the control that home viewers have over their viewing experience. It can't possibly make sense to subject people coming to the stadium to the worst part of the at-home experience--the commercials!! How is this not obvious? Isn't the NFL desperately trying to make the stadium experience competitive with--OR BETTER THAN--the at-home experience? I mean, what's next? I get salespeople that knock on my front door sometimes on Sundays trying to sell lawn care, gutter cleaning or magazine subscriptions. Maybe they can bring those people to FedEx and have them bother me in the middle of drives. Who is responsible for answering this question at FedEx: What makes coming to FedEx better than staying at home? I hope it is not the same guy whose job it is to raise beer prices every year. He is overworked enough.
Every professional team sells advertising. But based on the experiences that Kevin and I have had at Nats Park and Verizon Center, it seems that FedEx Field is unique in the way they broadcast commercials. You are more apt to see a corporate sponsored "Kiss Cam," or a dentist-sponsored "Smile of the Game" cam at these other venues. At FedEx, they are just straight-up showing commercials. There are too many smart people making good salaries at Redskins Park for there to be such a dearth of creative ideas to engage fans. I heard many, MANY voices raise up against this on Sunday. In addition to the cutaways of other league games being played, here are some other ideas that took three seconds to think of:
Pick a section to participate in an in-stadium fantasy football type of game. If Pierre Garcon scores a touchdown, anyone with a ticket from that section gets 25% off Hadeed rug cleaning.
Pick a section to benefit from the woes of our divisional foes. If Dallas loses, anyone with a ticket from that section gets 50% off Empire flooring. Today.
If the Redskins convert more than half of their third down chances, everyone with a ticket gets free toppings at Papa John's.
As it stands right now, I am probably never going to patronize the companies whose commercials I have to stomach throughout the game. They aren't a pleasant addition to my day at the stadium. It would take the PA announcer 30 seconds to announce these kinds of programs. Come on...Oprah gives away cars to her audience. I'm just talking about some free toppings.
The NFL stretches the game out enough with the insane amount of TV timeouts. Is there anyone out there who will take issue with my CONSTERNATION at the lack of any perceived responsibility to entertain the fans during these TV timeouts? Instead of seizing an opportunity to creatively engage a captured audience, the franchise has instead found a way to capitalize on the fact we are captured! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!
There has to be a better way. Please also note I am not even touching the product on the field. Whether we are winning by twenty points or losing by twenty points, nobody wants to be beaten over the head with stupid commercials.
For those of you who don't go to games, let me be the first to echo your comment to me and others annoyed by this: "Then don't go to games!!"
Fair enough. If the Redskins aren't careful, that is exactly what will start happening.
***(I reached out to the team for comment on this and other stadium experience issues. If and when we hear back from them on any of it, I will be sure to share their response with all of you. Thus far, they have had no comment)