August 26, 2014

Under pressure, NFL eases TV blackout policy

Pat McManamon has the story about the NFL dropping the limit to 85 percent.

Instead of requiring all tickets be sold 72 hours prior to kickoff for a game to be televised locally, the league’s ownership has decided that 15 percent of the seats can be unsold. Which is good for the guy sitting home who can’t afford a ticket, but might be concerning for the NFL as it assesses getting people out of recliners to watch games.

McManamon has some good stuff about what this means for the Bengals and Browns here in Ohio, but the fact remains that I really don’t think the NFL wanted to do any of this. The NFL could be proactively changing their rules in order to stave off further scrutiny from the U.S. government and the FCC. Earlier in the year, we talked about Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown being one of the politicians who signed on to urge the FCC to explore the NFL’s blackout policy.

Brown and company seemed to dig their heels in most because the NFL was blacking out games forcing local fans to purchase tickets to games in stadiums that were largely built, improved and subsidized by their own tax dollars. Of course, the worst thing going for fans who do actually go to games are the TV timeouts surrounding scores with the extra point, TV timeout, kickoff, TV timeout exchange.

Obviously we can’t forget the disparity in market size going on either.

Also consider the geographic disparities pointed out in the letter.  Buffalo has a stadium that seats about 73,000.  Chicago has a stadium that seats 61,500.  Buffalo’s population is nearly four times smaller than Chicago’s at 261,000 vs. 1 million or so.  Yes, Buffalo pulls from a region including Rochester (1 hour away) and Syracuse (about 2.5 hours away) but let’s not pretend the populations are even remotely close to being the same.

[Related: Minnesota stadium deal could ban TV blackouts]

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

    Interesting that there were 4 teams last season that fell below the 85 percent mark and the Washington Redskins were one of those teams.

    Seems like Redskin fans have figured out something that certain members of the Cleveland media haven’t: having a “win now” philosophy is kind of irrelevant if you don’t actually win anything.