The NFL’s blackout rule — which prevents games from being broadcast in home markets if there is no sellout — is coming under fire lately as some teams (ok, let’s face it, we’re talking about Jacksonville) might not have a single home sellout all season.
Time says that the NFL is sticking to the blackout rule. The teams themselves aren’t budging either. So far, despite the recession and a decrease in sales — they’ve actually raised ticket prices:
And as much as some local officials may be griping about it, teams aren’t necessarily helping. Some teams that are facing the prospect of blackouts haven’t even lowered their ticket prices to entice fans. In Jacksonville, for example, the average general-admission ticket costs $57.34, a 3.7% increase from 2008, according to Team Marketing Report. The average premium seat now costs $229.17, a 15% increase over the previous year. And local network affiliates aren’t necessarily upset that they have to sometimes air a different game, since more competitive teams playing can actually translate to better ratings.
It looks like the following teams are in danger of blackouts: Arizona, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota and San Diego. Gothamist is concerned that there may be a blackout of the upcoming Jets/Patriots game, though we suspect they worry needlessly.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says that he expects about 20% of NFL games to be blacked out this season. Last year 9 games were unavailable — and five of them involved the still-winless Detroit Lions. Time sums up that situation rather succinctly:
With unemployment hovering around 30%, it’s not easy for folks in the Motor City to shell out a few hundred bucks to attend a game and cheer on the first team in NFL history to finish the season 0-16, as the Lions did last year.
For those of you in blacked-out markets, the NFL is offering those games on-line free of charge through their NFL Game Rewind service. You can watch the games beginning at midnight on the day of the game and they remain available for 72 hours (except during ESPN Monday Night Football telecasts).
“We understand that the economy is limiting some families and corporations from buying as many game tickets as they had previously,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “These free re-broadcasts on NFL.com will allow our fans that can’t get to a blacked-out game an opportunity to see the entire game.”