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NFL tiptoes around report of blackout loophole

Neil Best of Newsday recently reported that NFL teams have a little-known option for avoiding blackouts.  Per Best, the home team can pay 34 percent of the face value of the remaining tickets.

As we pointed out on Friday, this loophole can create P.R. problems for NFL teams who are trying to get fans to fork over their shrinking discretionary income for the leftover tickets at a time when the home team can simply write a check to guarantee that the game will be televised locally.

We asked the NFL whether Best’s report is accurate.  And here’s what spokesman Greg Aiello said:  “Teams are required to sell out the general admission tickets for the blackout to be lifted.  Visiting team share, which goes into a pool divided equally among all teams, is based on tickets sold.  Teams on occasion when they are near a sellout have worked with sponsors or other business partners to guarantee a sellout and a blackout lift.”

As to the question asked — is Best’s report accurate? — the response wasn’t “yes” or a “no” or a “neither.”  And implicit in Aiello’s response arguably is a concession that the process of “working with sponsors or other business partners” at times includes the home team writing a check to ensure the lifting of the blackout.

And we can understand why the league would be tight lipped on this point.  If some teams, like the Buccaneers, are choosing to give up a piece of their profit in order to ensure that the game will be televised in the Tampa area, fans in other markets might wonder why the home team isn’t willing to do the same thing.

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26 Responses to “NFL tiptoes around report of blackout loophole”
  1. JSpicoli says: May 15, 2010 10:30 AM

    Blackout rule is a dinosaur and so is the NFL if they think are generating any more ticket sales by holding onto this rule-a-saur.
    I watch the games that are blacked out in my home market anyway, but i’m tight lipped about that too.

  2. tbtsm15 says: May 15, 2010 10:31 AM

    Sounds like a “Yes and No” answer to me.
    Yes, technically teams can buy out the remaining tickets. They have done so in the past with the financial help of local sponsors.
    But No, this does not imply that all blackouts can be avoided if the teams weren’t such cheapskates.

  3. onesweetworld says: May 15, 2010 10:31 AM

    Florio wrote a article on blackouts and didnt even mention Jacksonville. That just made my weekend….

  4. cedargrove1 says: May 15, 2010 10:36 AM

    To whom do they write the check? does the money not go right back to the team?

  5. JimmySmith says: May 15, 2010 10:44 AM

    Somebody inform Mr. Wilf of the Vikings immediately.
    Los Angeles is looking better and better by the day.

  6. Chapnasty2 says: May 15, 2010 10:45 AM

    I don’t understand why there is even a reason for a blackout. Who gives a damn if the stadium isn’t filled, the people who aren’t fortunate enough to buy $40,000 PSL’s to go to the games still spend some money on licensed items. Who the hell are the teams to hold the game back from them? It is a slap in the face to the fan to blackout their hometeam games and it should be addressed.

  7. detroit says: May 15, 2010 10:51 AM

    Time to get rid of the blackout rule. The NFL makes more than enough money through sponsors a T.V. deals. Hell, didn’t they just sign a mega money deal with Anheuser Busch?
    Reguardless of the current economy, not every fan is able to fork out $50 a seat to watch a game. Bring your family with you, you’re looking at $200 just to walk in the door. Add $30 to park and another $100 for food, beverage, and souvenier ( not including $8 gameday program) and you’re out a car payment for 3 1/2 hours of entertainment.
    At the very least, offer a 3 hour tape delay like they do in the preseason.
    C’mon Goodell…..give the average fan a chance!

  8. iusedtobeteddybayer says: May 15, 2010 10:57 AM

    I’m surprised that nothing has been done about this. Can’t the NFL see what not to do e.g., the NHL? Sheesh!
    Frankly, at this point, with hi-def, who needs to go the game? Parking, $9 hot dogs, $15 beers…I mean, I just paid $15 for a friggin’ case of Miller Hi-Life! Who needs this?
    And then there’s the fans. What class! Spitting, drooling, cursing, hicks-come-to-the-big-city. Oh my God!

  9. kevinkolbkillswildhogsforfun says: May 15, 2010 11:00 AM

    Seriously dude can you write an article that’s not based off someone elses article? Your web address should be

  10. Hank_SJ says: May 15, 2010 11:05 AM

    All this is leading up to pay-per-view for all games, sell-outs or not, in-market or not.

  11. Slow Joe says: May 15, 2010 11:14 AM

    If you order the DirecTV package and have it sent to say, Atlanta, then drive it down to where you really live in Tampa, wouldn’t DirecTV only black out Falcons games that you don’t give a crap about?
    I think that’s the way to go. DirecTV has no idea where your satellite dish is.

  12. Insomniac says: May 15, 2010 11:18 AM

    He essentially confirmed it. The team can “purchase” the tickets themselves. The only money that leaves their hands is the money sent to the visitor’s pool.

  13. Dave2324 says: May 15, 2010 11:54 AM

    Everyone has known about this for years. Teams can avoid a blackout by buying up the remaining tickets. Why do they not do this more often? Because the visiting team shares the ticket revenue. So if an owner buys up the remaining tickets, he is in effect handing 34% of it over to the visiting team. The business of “writing a check for 34%” is just another way of saying the visiting team shares in ticket revenues. That has always been the case and people have known about it for years and years. There is nothing new in this story.

  14. Observer1 says: May 15, 2010 11:58 AM

    Cities, states and taxpayers that foot the bill for most stadiums should demand all games be televised locally. It should be part of the deal.

  15. bobhoo says: May 15, 2010 12:22 PM

    Slow Joe, If you did that wouldn’t you then be getting Alanta local channels and not Tampa’s?

  16. Chapnasty2 says: May 15, 2010 1:00 PM

    Slowjoe, when you move your Dish they have to come and reprogram it in order to get your local channels. Also you would have to have the ability to mount the dish and get it in line with the sattelites as well.

  17. palewook says: May 15, 2010 1:05 PM

    maybe the should raise the price of tickets again and see if that helps….

  18. jerryjonesftw says: May 15, 2010 1:31 PM

    @cedargrove1 I was just thinking that!

  19. Corey says: May 15, 2010 1:52 PM

    I like how Florio picked the Bucs as an example. They don’t even write checks to make their team better, what makes everyone think they would write checks to get their lousy product.
    Besides, they would have to check with Man U first before any check can be written.

  20. GDBroker says: May 15, 2010 2:08 PM

    Detroit, are the figures you’re giving accurate for that area? I had to give up my Pats season tix because they were over $120 each per game, and they were end zone. Parking at Gillette was $50 for the cheap lot, $60 for most, and more for the playoffs. For 4 guys to go to a typical game you’re looking at at least $200 each per game to cover everything, never mind $200 for a family of four. We’re talking mortgage payment here, not car payment.

  21. Dick Gozinia says: May 15, 2010 3:19 PM

    Not all of your Tampa games would necessarily be shown locally,(In Atlanta) due to regional broadcast packaging. If you had NFL season ticket, then the Direct TV dish location swap would be perfect. Can you install and activate it yourself though?

  22. edgy1957 says: May 15, 2010 4:21 PM

    Slow Joe says:
    If you order the DirecTV package and have it sent to say, Atlanta, then drive it down to where
    Unless you’re prepared to occasionally drive back to Atlanta, this doesn’t work. The NFL Sunday ticket, as well as other sports packages, requires that you have your receiver attached to a phone line and when it’s first turned on, the package ties that number to the receiver and while you could move to another state and keep it disconnected for a while, it HAS to call back during the season and if it doesn’t, it will turn off the package and any extra receivers to get you to plug it back in and make the call. If you don’t drive back to where you originally turned it on and use that phone number to call out, you’ll lose the package until you do.
    There’s two reasons for this: the first is to make sure that you are getting the correct games for your zip code and the second is to make sure that you’re not using it at a place of business. You CAN use the Sunday Ticket at a place of business BUT you have to pay a different (and higher) price for it.
    Another consideration is local programming, which would be tied to the zip code.

  23. J says: May 15, 2010 4:29 PM

    Dude Corey, the bucs did exactly that last season, they bought all the tickets in order to avoid a blackout, so if the apparently to you cheap bucs did it, why wouldn’t other teams do the same?.

  24. Wizahdry says: May 15, 2010 5:33 PM

    Blackout rule is stupid. It’s bad business. As a league when games don’t sell out gate money has been lost. Why compound the issue by losing potential sponsors in a local area by not showing the game. The ticket money at stadiums is a small part of the revenue that can still be generated.

  25. buzzbissinger says: May 15, 2010 7:02 PM

    I gave up on attending games about 8 years ago. They actually think I’m gonna plunk down $80 (per person) of hard-earned cash to see a game? Not to mention parking, and all the trimmings.
    The thing that pisses me off about the blackout rule, if you wait to see if the game is going to be blacked out, by then there is only shitty seats left, what’s the use?

  26. johnnyhose says: May 15, 2010 9:57 PM

    who cares about blackouts and locals. RED ZONE CHANNEL is all you need. It is the cheapest way to see how every and any team wins or loses, all 32 of them. Dirctv, fox, and cbs can all suck it old school D-X style. SUCK IT. Red Zone rules @ $5.00 a month. Thank You comcast and Arlene Spector.

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