With plenty of chatter emanating from Tampa suggesting that Sunday’s game between the Steelers and the Buccaneers was sold out and/or could have been sold out and not blacked out if an extension of the 72-hour deadline had been sought, we suppose it’s fitting that at least one, and maybe more, bars in Tampa defied the blackout by showing the game via Internet feeds.
Bernie O’Brien, the proprietor of O’Brien’s Irish Pub, admits that he made the game available for viewing by his patron.
“It wasn’t the best picture in the world, but we got to watch the game,” O’Brien said, per the Tampa Tribune. “They were happy the game was on.”
O’Brien’s defense may not hold much water (or as the case may be, Mumm’s champagne).
“There’s a whole bunch of bars that had it on today,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien likely will be hearing more about the situation soon. “We protect our copyrighted game telecasts,” NFL spokesman Dan Masonson told the Tribune, via an e-mail. “The local blackout applies to these commercial establishments. When we become aware of a violation, we alert our legal department, which will take action.” (We asked for comment and got the same statement.)
At a minimum, the NFL will send a cease-and-desist letter to O’Brien’s and any other establishments that broadcast the game. At worst, O’Brien’s and others could have to form over money.
Possibly a whole bunch of money.