What people were talking about last week: Referees, Part 2

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Last week I took a look at how the NFL® referee kerfuffle affected ticket sales at TN.com up to that point in the season. I found the data a little inconclusive, as the sales trend from this season closely matched that of last season up until last week, suggesting that the controversial call made the Monday before last affected sales in a negative way. However, I hypothesized that the trend might just be a season difference.

So what does the data tell us now that the real referees are back and previous disappointments have had a week to turn to delight? Well, as you can see below, there was a definite improvement for a while. The day after the refs returned, orders at TN.com spiked again, and generally did so for a few days afterward. So it can be argued that the return of the refs improved things a bit from last week.

TN.com NFL sales for 11 days on and following the Monday Night Football controversy. Data is normalized.
NFL® tickets sold at TN.com for 11 days on and after the MNF controversy, and for a similar period in 2011. Data is normalized.

But wait! The data also shows that orders haven't nearly recovered to the levels they enjoyed before the controversy. This is compared to what happened last year, when there were more orders for the same period. Compare that to the graph I posted last week, which had sales at about the same level as last year, for the most part. That is until Monday, September 24, anyway.

Even though there was a bit of an improvement in sales, was there a more profound loss of morale than anyone realizes, one that even the return of the real refs can't remedy? With the replacement ref controversy so fresh on people's minds, it could be that fans are still in a bit of a protest phase, and that given a bit of time all will be forgiven and sales levels will improve.

Over the next month or so we should know whether that's the case, or if sales will be impacted for the entire season.