Atlanta-based Falcons fans have historically endured television blackouts here and there. Non-local Falcons fans have only recently been able to regularly watch Falcons games on television. There's a reason those facts are true, and it's not easy to swallow.
Falcons fans - notwithstanding the limitless dedication of many Falcoholics - generally aren't particularly supportive. In fact, according to a fan equity study by two Emory University sports marketing students, they're really not supportive at all. They suck at supporting, and apparently everyone knows it.
At the more unfortunate end of the scale we have a bottom five of Detroit, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Atlanta and Oakland. Detroit, of course, suffers from a relative lack of on-field success and a struggling local economy. But we should note that our method does explicitly control for these factors. It may well be a matter of the Wolverines & Spartans winning the battle for fans against the Lions. Similarly, teams like Atlanta and Tampa Bay may suffer from being located in SEC territory.
Blame it on the SEC all you want, there's more to it. I'm not saying the SEC fascination of many southerners isn't a driving force, but it's certainly not the only contributing factor.
First, Atlanta is in large part a city of transplants, people who aren't from Atlanta, or even Georgia for that matter. I have to think that contributes to the lack of consistent support, because sports team allegiances are more-often-than-not formed at a young age.
Second, there's the fan friendliness (or lack thereof) factor. Going to a Falcons game is never cheap. Between parking, tickets, refreshments, and foam fingers, it's easy to drop a couple Benjamins attending a game. Sure, attending an NFL game isn't cheap anywhere, but the Falcons are navigating their most successful run in franchise history in the midst of the most economically depressed time since the Great Depression. Of course the national economy is slowly trending upwards, but anyone who lives in Atlanta knows its lagging painfully behind.
Finally, there's the "expansion team" multi-generational hangover. At best, your grandpa jumped on the bandwagon in 1966. More than 40 years later, you may have Falcons heritage, but it doesn't run as deep as that of the Bears, Giants, etc. of the NFL. I'm not calling anyone's fandom into question, just trying to highlight the importance of multi-generational, family-wide support for a particular franchise.
All in all, I'm not shocked the Falcons fared so poorly in fan equity. Fast forward 20 years, and I'm confident the picture will be different. In the interim, I'm perfectly fine being one of a dedicated few. We're exclusive, we care because we want to, not because we have to for this or that reason. It's not a bad thing, really.