NFL Byes are the nadir to the football fan. If you are a fan of a particular team, then there is nothing more annoying, more endlessly dull than when your team has a bye week. However, it has its value, and that value is not only related to it being a good opportunity for a football teams' roster to get some rest and rehab. Having a bye week also has an economic advantage. What is it? We'll investigate by looking at the ticket prices of the teams that had byes in Week 4-5 (The teams that had byes in Week 6 did not have enough data for this analysis). Let's start with the teams.
The eight teams that have had byes are a good mix to see the true effects of having a bye. In Week 4, the at that time 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs, 1-2 Dallas Cowboys and 1-2 Minnesota Vikings all had their byes. In effect, you had two talented teams that were disappointing, and two seemed-to-be untalented teams surprising. Then, in Week 5, the 3-1 Pittsburgh Steelers, 3-1 New England Patriots, 2-2 Seattle Seahawks and 2-2 Miami Dolphins all had byes. This gives us a good range of teams to look at. There are no bad teams, as in teams that were expected to be bad, and were bad, but there is a representative of every other type of team.
We'll start with the four teams that had a Week 4 bye.
(The light blue is the average ticket price before their bye-week. The dark blue is the average ticket price through the bye week. The Gray is the average ticket price after the bye week ends).
Does that look unusual? It should. Remember the records of these teams entering the bye. The two teams whose price rose through the bye were Dallas and Minnesota, who were both 1-2, while the 3-0 and 2-1 Chiefs and Buccaneers saw their price drop. This seems strange. Why would a bye week raise prices for teams with bad records, and lower prices for teams with good records. The Vikings saw their prices increase by 26.3%, while the Cowboys increased by 2.7%. The Chiefs saw their price drop by 10.7%, and the Buccaneers saw it drop by 18.1%. The Vikings number is not at all skewed by the Randy Moss trade, as that happened after the end of the Vikings bye week. So what it is about the bye week that makes price change have an inverse reaction to team performance? It may be in that very same dullness.
Before I start to make any conclusions with this, we should see if this trend holds up for the four teams that had a Week 5 bye.
So, here we have 2-2 Miami and Seattle see their average ticket price drop, and the 3-1 Steelers and Patriots see their average ticket price rise. The Patriots saw their price rise 20.3%, the Steelers saw their average ticket price rise 10.7%. The Seahawks saw their average ticket price fall 3.6%, and the Dolphins saw their price drop 6.6%. The Patriots price rose a lot, however, this might have been influenced by the Randy Moss trade, as that did happen in New England's bye week. The price of the Patriots tickets did drop about $35 following the Moss trade, but that price was still higher than it was before the bye. This time, the two teams that saw their price rise were teams that had good records, and the two that saw their prices fall were teh teams with worse records, as well as teams that were blown out in their last game before the bye. So, is there any correlation between record, or anything else, with price rise or fall over the bye?
Yes there is, but it has nothing to do with record, but more public perception of the team entering the year. This is probably especially true for early byes, where preseason perception is still more important than the actual real team performance. Minnesota, Dallas, Pittsburgh and New England all had playoff, if not Super Bowl, aspirations as the year started. The bye week not only allows the team to relax, but also the media and the analysis of the team to relax a bit as well. Teams that are in dissarray don't have as much around the clock coverage in the bye week. Fans might stop thinking about what the team actually is with no game coming at the end of the week, and might think about what they might be and more importantly what they should be. For the Steelers, fans also had the return of Ben Roethlisberger to wonder about. Large market teams, especially large market teams who have high aspirations early in the year are effected by this a lot apparently, which is what the data shows.
For the teams with lesser aspirations, they saw their prices fall, which makes sense as well. Just as the bye week allows fans of teams that were perceived to be good entering the year forget about reality, and imagine about what that team could and should be, the inverse is true for fans of teams that were perceived to be bad or average entering the year. A good start, like the ones for the Buccaneers and Chiefs, is abruptly stopped by the bye week, which stunts all the momentum that the surprising start was giving to the ticket prices. Maybe a fan of a team that expected a bad year, but gets a good start, might drift away from the reality of the good start during a bye week, where there is no upcoming game to breakdown, to be ready for.
There are many more bye weeks to analyze, and I have a feeling that the further into the season the bye week occurs the less we will see this effect, since it is hard to drift away from the reality, when the reality is a 6-2 team for example. I will continue to look to see if this trend does indeed continues, or drifts away as well. Bye weeks still are the bane of any football fans existence. I know, as I am dealing with one now as a Colts fan, and I see this impact working on me as we speak. With all these injuries the Colts have even I am talking myself into some way the Colts continue to push on and be great, and not having a game for 14 days to test my theory helps me feel confident that I am right. Either way, bye weeks are a great, great thing for teams that have good expectations entering the year, but not weeks to look forward to for the ticket offices of teams that were not expected to do much entering the year.
Thought? Am I hitting on something, or am I totally off base? Give us your feedback here, or on twitter (@SeatGeek). 'Till Next Time.