What’s Keeping NFL Fans in the Dark?

Football blackouts may be gone soon, but that might not be enough to keep some NFL fans from missing the playoffs.

NFL fans could miss the action if their teams fail to sell out playoff games.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Jan. 3, 2014, 8:49 a.m.

No one can fault Green Bay fans if they forgo a -50 de­gree wind chill Sunday to watch the Pack­ers from the com­forts of their own home. But Cheese­heads’ hes­it­ance to brave the chilly con­fines of Lam­beau Field nearly cost fans in north­east­ern Wis­con­sin the chance to watch the game at all. Luck­ily for Green Bay fans, late tick­et sales made the game a sel­lout and aver­ted the NFL’s black­out threat.

But Pack­ers fans aren’t alone. Cin­cin­nati is also fa­cing the pos­sib­il­ity of a loc­al TV black­out, as the Bengals have un­til Fri­day af­ter­noon to sell out their game. In­di­ana­pol­is nar­rowly avoided a sim­il­ar fate when Meijer bought 1,200 tick­ets for loc­al mil­it­ary fam­il­ies. Black­outs are hardly new, but it’s un­usu­al for 75 per­cent of the week­end’s play­off host cit­ies to ap­proach the sel­lout dead­line with tick­ets still un­sold.

So what’s keep­ing fans from filling up the seats? The most ob­vi­ous an­swer is the in­creas­ing qual­ity of the TV ex­per­i­ence. The ad­vant­ages (and cost sav­ings) of watch­ing an HD broad­cast versus trav­el­ing to the sta­di­um have been well-doc­u­mented, but now there’s more evid­ence fans are shift­ing their view­ing habits. The NFL on FOX earned the most view­ers in its his­tory this sea­son; CBS grabbed its second-highest rat­ing ever.

But high TV view­er­ship might not be a threat to loc­al fans for much longer. Last month, the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion an­nounced it was start­ing the pro­cess to al­ter black­out rules. The pro­posed change would al­low cable and satel­lite pro­viders to carry games in blacked-out mar­kets, even if the NFL pre­vents over-the-air loc­al sta­tions from show­ing the broad­casts. Es­sen­tially, un­less you’re get­ting Green Bay’s WLUK Fox 11 from your an­tenna, you’ll be able to watch the game.

The FCC’s pro­posed work-around was praised by Sens. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz., and Richard Blu­menth­al, D-Conn., who had put for­ward their own le­gis­la­tion to cut black­outs. With his con­stitu­ents in danger of miss­ing their Bengals, Sen. Sher­rod Brown, D-Ohio, chimed in Thursday to chas­tise the NFL. “This is un­ac­cept­able at a time when the price of at­tend­ing games con­tin­ues to rise, and the eco­nomy is not yet where it needs to be,” Brown said, call­ing the FCC’s rule change “ex­cel­lent news.”

But for now, black­outs are still a fact of life, and fans who choose to watch the game from home may be cost­ing them­selves the op­por­tun­ity to do just that.

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
23 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
1 days ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
1 days ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

NEVER TRUMP
USA Today Weighs in on Presidential Race for First Time Ever
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."

Source:
×