The Indiana Pacers are winning games and drawing viewers to their affiliate, Fox Sports Indiana. The network is so happy with the ratings this year that they have taken the unprecedented step of offering discounts to their viewers to attend Pacers home games.
The idea of a network paying viewers to go to games seems rather counterintuitive, does it not? Jack Donovan, general manager and senior vice president of Fox Sports Indiana, explained the network's reasoning in an official press release, via NBA.com:
The Pacers are off to a tremendous start. Fans are watching in big numbers, and we want to help ensure those fans have the opportunity to experience a Pacers game live this season and pack Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers have built a championship contender the old-fashioned way, by assembling a roster through the draft and making incremental progress through the playoffs. But the Pacers still draw crowds that rank in the bottom half of the league.
So what is the problem? According to Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie, the problem is "partially the fault of the smallish (but fantastic) Bankers Life Fieldhouse that they play in, but mostly because going to an actual game can be a pretty expensive experience."
That's all well and good, but fans of every professional sports team have been faced with the same dilemma over the past decade: the proliferation of cheaper home entertainment systems and ever-increasing ticket prices.
It's hard to fault Pacers fans, or any fans, for choosing to stay home and watch the game on their high-definition televisions, but it would be nice if they could fill out the arena for a championship contender.
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