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Report: League willing to relax blackout rules

Bengals Grim Again Football AP

For years, the NFL has worried about how improvements to the at-home product will impact ticket sales.

And apparently, the answer was frightening enough to cause a fundamental change.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the league will give teams flexibility to avoid television blackouts, allowing games to be broadcast in their local markets with as few as 85 percent of tickets sold. The 100 percent sell-out barrier was a ruse anyway, since teams or sponsors often bought tickets at reduced rates to preserve local broadcasts. Only 16 games were blacked out last season.

“The at-home experience has gotten better and cheaper, while the in-stadium experience feels like it hasn’t,” Eric Grubman, the NFL’s executive vice president of ventures and business operations told the Journal. “That’s a trend that we’ve got to do something about.”

With 10 teams filling their stadiums to capacity or more, there are clubs that want to try to add seats without the risk of alienating local fans. But 20 of the league’s 32 teams are advertising season tickets for sale, and the Jets just reduced the price of more than 10,000 upper tier seats.

But while reducing the blackout rules ostensibly only makes it easier to enjoy the product without buying a ticket, the league is also working to make the in-stadium experience better, with measures including free wireless internet in every stadium. That could allow fans in the stands to hear miked-up players and see the same replays officials see.

The reality remains, television dollars are more important to teams than ticket sales, so while they want to preserve the income they’ve always enjoyed, they also know keeping their television partners happy by keeping games on the air is important as well.

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28 Responses to “Report: League willing to relax blackout rules”
  1. coltsluckdynasty says: Jun 30, 2012 5:13 PM

    They need to get rid of the 2 mandatory pre-season games in ticket packages!! This is a joke, let’s see 240 times 2 = 480 dollars for games that don’t mean s@&t… Even people that shell out the money for them don’t go. Take the pre-season games out of the packages, sell them for next to nothing, so people that can only afford to see the pre-season games, have a decent chance to have an affordable family night.! Offer half price concessions during the pre-season games, and sell the tickets for the price of a movie. This at least gives a broader, maybe not as financially capable crowd to enjoy the team! I know, it’s crazy right? I would love to take the family to a preseason game, have some fun, and maybe, just maybe, be able to sit in the lower level 50 yard line area… Simple, but would never happen.

  2. coltsluckdynasty says: Jun 30, 2012 5:17 PM

    Oh yeah, taking 480 dollars out of the season ticket package might actually help some of the struggling franchises sell a few more season tickets.

  3. samoanjungle says: Jun 30, 2012 5:23 PM

    They need to get those airplane style TVs and mount them on the back of all of the seats, show redzone plays, scores, highlights etc.

  4. mjkelly77 says: Jun 30, 2012 5:28 PM

    ” … the league is also working to make the in-stadium experience better, with measures including free wireless internet in every stadium. That could allow fans in the stands to hear miked-up players and see the same replays officials see.”
    ________________

    Internet in order to see the same replays the officials see? I like it.

  5. 3yardsndust says: Jun 30, 2012 5:47 PM

    It’s just too expensive for what you get: $10 beers, lines to use the can, bad food, crazy traffic getting in and out, parking fees, jerks so drunk in the stands you can’t take your kids. At home, I’ve got the Sunday Ticket, the Red Zone, cold beer, my bathroom, my hound dog, good chow, laptop to check my fantasy stats, cold beer…

  6. mjkelly77 says: Jun 30, 2012 5:52 PM

    3yardsndust says:Jun 30, 2012 5:47 PM

    It’s just too expensive for what you get: $10 beers, lines to use the can, bad food, crazy traffic getting in and out, parking fees, jerks so drunk in the stands you can’t take your kids. At home, I’ve got the Sunday Ticket, the Red Zone, cold beer, my bathroom, my hound dog, good chow, laptop to check my fantasy stats, cold beer…
    __________________

    I’ll dump my season tickets. When should I be over?

  7. mymazdaluvsme says: Jun 30, 2012 6:00 PM

    And everyone called the minnesota legislators crazy when they asked for no black outs if the state helps finance a new stadium..

  8. johnnyjagfan says: Jun 30, 2012 6:15 PM

    I have the ticket and a half-pack season ticket for the Falcons and travel often to watch the Jags. No doubt the 2-TV motioin and the grill is relaxing. I find myself dumping tickets from time-to-time just to relax at home.

    Totally agree on pre-season tickets not being part of the season ticket package. Tried to sell mine last year for face, no. Half, no. Then I put both of them up for a 12-pack and had to haggle on brand. Seriously.

  9. mwindle1973 says: Jun 30, 2012 6:21 PM

    Going to a game is very expensive and something that most fans only do on rare occasions. It remains an very enjoyable experience. But for me only if I’m close enough to actually watch the action on field. You can’t replace seeing it in real life. But once you get high enough up in the cheaper seats you watch the big screen more than you do the field. They need to do something to improve the experience up there. IDK what, because the best thing would’ve been addressing the pitch on the seat rows. If the rows were steeper your distance from the field would be in height and not length. Meaning your eyes are just as far from the players, but it improves your angle on the view. Kind of like the effect of a hockey arena. But it’s too late to do that in football. They might have built like double or triple decker rows, where the cheaper seats were directly over top of the expensive seats. Also giving the fans shelter from the elements. You could even pump some heat or cool air into these areas to help temper the heat or cold. But right now the way it is for me a Bengals fan, I have to fork over around 400 for a pair of seats in the 1st level and between the 25 yd lines. We had a terrible 2010 and I snagged those same tickets for 225 a pair. Last year they cost me 275. Now with higher expectations for the team they are at 400. And if the team meets expectations the tickets will basically not be available. Most season ticket holders only sell tickets when the team sucks. Otherwise they go to most games. It’s a bad situation.

  10. rukkus1 says: Jun 30, 2012 6:22 PM

    Its about time

  11. Gordon says: Jun 30, 2012 6:27 PM

    It’s not the in-game experience. It’s the quality of the team on the field & the cost of attending games: tickets, parking, food, drinks, souvenir. That’s all there is to it…nothing more, nothing less.

  12. pheagles says: Jun 30, 2012 6:49 PM

    These days I could shell out the money to go to one game or I could use that money to buy a 32 inch HDTV and watch it t home and still have enough left over for a six pack.

  13. gadzod says: Jun 30, 2012 7:21 PM

    I hate paying $75 per ticket (2 seats) for my lower level Bills games. I end up donating to the Children’s hospital or Boys and Girls club so I can at least write off $300 in taxes…..

  14. polishkingski says: Jun 30, 2012 7:25 PM

    slash ticks by half and jack up the cost to the networks. no way are they gonna say no to a cash machine. ps….the ralph is a great place to see a game. its in a very very steep bowl and not a bad seat in the house.

  15. phillyphan72 says: Jun 30, 2012 7:27 PM

    I renewed my season tickets even against
    My cheap side telling me not 2..I’ve had them for 9 years and as time goes on its not as fun as it used to be.more and more expensive and a
    Nightmare on I76 awaits.that said I”ll sell more than half of them this year just to relax at home..the biggest thing is the people you meet and get to kno.I think I’ll miss that more than the games.& I never imagined 10 years ago I’d feel like the way I do now

  16. cincyhokie says: Jun 30, 2012 7:57 PM

    This is what in terms of economics is called the “law of diminishing returns”.

    Hey, NFL you can’t beat supply and demand. In this case, “the devil is in the cost”.

    Time to lower all prices. Tickets, concessions, parking.

  17. coltsluckdynasty says: Jun 30, 2012 7:58 PM

    You are kidding me? 75 a seat for lower level tickets? Nosebleed seats at Lucas oil stadium are 68 dollars a game, 3 rows down from the very top row…. Damn you Irsay, quit running up your twitter account, and make some cuts….. I have to say, this is ridiculous, I was looking at seats lower level, needless to say, the 2500 dollar per season ticket was enough to make me laugh…. 75 a game lower level, man, I need to move!!

  18. mwindle1973 says: Jun 30, 2012 8:05 PM

    I just don’t see how they fix it. It’s a flawed concept. They make 90+% of their money on TV. I can watch the games on TV for free. And have a better experience than I would in 70% of the seats at the stadium. So it’s either: spend 400 for a pair of good tickets, that’s the best experience; watch it on TV for free, 2nd best experience; or pay $175-350 for bad seats, 3rd best experience. If they could severely lower the price of the “bad” seats by say like half, then it might be able to compete with staying home and watching on TV. But no stadium can make a profit that way. Most teams have newer stadiums…too late to redesign them to make the bad seats better. Maybe it’s time that the NFL give up money and take a loss filing the stadiums in order to grow the product in TV revenues, etc. In other words full stadiums make for better games. Including watching them on TV. Filling the stadium is such a small part of revenue. The NFL needs to find a way to offset the loss for the team and they will be willing to do it. Keep the good seats high in price, but those third level 10 yard line seats…sell them for 30 dollars or less.

  19. rushbacker says: Jun 30, 2012 8:06 PM

    “The at-home experience has gotten better and cheaper, while the in-stadium experience feels like it hasn’t,” Eric Grubman, the NFL’s executive vice president of ventures and business operations told the Journal. “That’s a trend that we’ve got to do something about.”
    __________________

    Well, at least they recognize it. I’ll tell you what, though– I typically go to a couple games a year, plus free pre-season games whenever one of my season ticket-holder friends is reduced to giving them away free. And I still think the in-stadium experience is great, minus maybe a few details. More and better restrooms would definitely help. And I do think they need more security to prevent idiot yayhoos from physical intimidating or assaulting visiting fans– there’s just no room for that garbage, at all. But otherwise, going to a game is always a blast IMO. The noise and energy of a close game simply cannot be duplicated at home.

    In other words. . . it’s the economy, stupid. With the new salary floor making it tougher in the future for teams to go super cheap on payroll, I can accept the brutal ticket prices as a fair compromise, and I’ve always been willing to purchase a certain amount of team gear. But it’s very obvious, if you pay even the slightest bit of attention to your fans– you need to stop gouging us on EVERYTHING when we do come out to the stadiums. If the overall “experience” weren’t so crushingly expensive, I would happily come out much more frequently. I could deal with the ticket prices if I didn’t have to drop another hundred bucks for parking, food and a couple bad beers for two people.

    I can accept that some lines are inevitable, but don’t bend us over for twenty-five or thirty bucks to park on top of it (or more in some cases). It’s just greedy to inflate prices like that, pure and simple. If the owners actually need to charge that much, you better get together and lower the damn salary cap! Let Brees or Peyton take seventeen mil per year, and take a buck off all the burgers and hot dogs. Sheesh. And stop KILLING people on the price of beer, it’s unconscionable. You want to charge those kinds of prices? Get some quality beer, I’ll be more than happy to pay what it’s worth.

    That all should sound really familiar. Now let’s see what the league does beyond talking about it. Are they willing to lower prices a little? HIGHLY doubt it. Nope. They’ll spend more money instead, and roll out a new marketing campaign. And try to add more “perks” to the stadium atmosphere, most of which may be cool, but ultimately not necessary. The FanVision thing is kinda cool– woulnd’t need it if they just set up a couple TVs with RedZone in the parking lots, though. And getting a decent wireless signal would be huge. I don’t need a bunch of expensive toys if I can just access the internet with my own phone. You have like ten billion dollars at your disposal– figure it out.

    Again, though, I doubt it. Because a simple solution like lowering concession pricing a bit doesn’t keep fat cat marketing execs in jobs. So watch– the league will at best invest a bit of money in an attempt to justify their price gouging. Then they’ll brag to you about how much improved the “fan experience” is. . . while still pricing most average Joes more or less out of the stadium, or out of even the cheapest season tickets at the very least.

  20. briang123 says: Jun 30, 2012 8:52 PM

    I would go to more games but my bookie can’t hear me over the crowd noise. I need to be able I get my action in in the 4:15, er, 4:25 games that were moved to help us degenerates. This is all theoretical of course a no one really bets on football outside of Vegas.

  21. rushbacker says: Jun 30, 2012 9:05 PM

    “The at-home experience has gotten better and cheaper, while the in-stadium experience feels like it hasn’t,” Eric Grubman, the NFL’s executive vice president of ventures and business operations told the Journal. “That’s a trend that we’ve got to do something about.”
    __________________

    Well, at least they recognize it. I’ll tell you what, though– I typically go to a couple games a year, plus free pre-season games whenever one of my season ticket-holder friends is reduced to giving them away free. And I still think the in-stadium experience is great, minus maybe a few details. More and better restrooms would definitely help. And I do think they need more security to prevent idiot yayhoos from physical intimidating or assaulting visiting fans– there’s just no room for that garbage, at all. But otherwise, going to a game is always a blast IMO. The noise and energy of a close game simply cannot be duplicated at home.

    In other words. . . it’s the economy, stupid. With the new salary floor making it tougher in the future for teams to go super cheap on payroll, I can accept the brutal ticket prices as a fair compromise, and I’ve always been willing to purchase a certain amount of team gear. But it’s very obvious, if you pay even the slightest bit of attention to your fans– you need to stop gouging us on EVERYTHING when we do come out to the stadiums. If the overall “experience” weren’t so crushingly expensive, I would happily come out much more frequently. I could deal with the ticket prices if I didn’t have to drop another hundred bucks for parking, food and a couple bad beers for two people.

    I can accept that some lines are inevitable, but don’t bend us over for twenty-five or thirty bucks to park on top of it (or more in some cases). It’s just greedy to inflate prices like that, pure and simple. If the owners actually need to charge that much, you better get together and lower the damn salary cap! Let Brees or Peyton take seventeen mil per year, and take a buck off all the burgers and hot dogs. Sheesh. And stop KILLING people on the price of beer, it’s unconscionable. You want to charge those kinds of prices? Get some quality beer, I’ll be more than happy to pay what it’s worth.

    That all should sound really familiar. Now let’s see what the league does beyond talking about it. Are they willing to lower prices a little? HIGHLY doubt it. Nope. They’ll spend more money instead, and roll out a new marketing campaign. And try to add more “perks” to the stadium atmosphere, most of which may be cool, but ultimately not necessary. The FanVision thing is kinda cool– woulnd’t need it if they just set up a couple TVs with RedZone in the parking lots, though. And getting a decent wireless signal would be huge. I don’t need a bunch of expensive toys if I can just access the internet with my own phone. You have like ten billion dollars at your disposal– figure it out.

    Again, though, I doubt it. Because a simple solution like lowering concession pricing a bit doesn’t keep fat cat marketing execs in jobs. So watch– the league will at best invest a bit of money in an attempt to justify their price gouging. Then they’ll brag to you about how much improved the “fan experience” is. . . while still pricing most average Joes more or less out of the stadium, or out of even the cheapest season tickets at the very least.

  22. jagsfanugh says: Jun 30, 2012 9:35 PM

    If public money is used to build a stadium there shouldn’t be any blackouts at all.

  23. ernie ernie says: Jun 30, 2012 9:53 PM

    Dam. I was hoping they would make the black out rules even stricter so I could watch more packer games and have the Vikings blacked out.
    Nascar is doing its darnest to not show the stands half empty this year. Two years ago one had to kill to get tickets and now they are having trouble giving them away.
    The NFL see’s this trend and wants to ensure that the product appears to be solid and recession proof.

  24. TIM says: Jun 30, 2012 11:01 PM

    Does this mean that the Raiders games will finally be on tv in Oakland ? lol

  25. meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says: Jun 30, 2012 11:33 PM

    Brilliant idea.

  26. topcide says: Jul 1, 2012 12:50 AM

    I would advise the NFL to read my story……

    Some background first–

    I am 31, a college graduate, engaged and own a home with my Fiance. While I am not rich, I make above average money for my age and education.( for the morons throwing jabs at detroit being broke, I live in ann arbor, check zillow for property values.)

    I am a die hard Lions fan. My dad and I sat down and watched Barry every sunday growing up, and we went to thanksgiving games often. I have watched just about every game I could in my adult life.

    I love ford field, it’s a great stadium in the one awesome area of Detroit. I’d rank it in the top 10 of NFL stadiums. (Before you hate, come here for game, you can stay at my house for free.)

    I remember specifically going to the thanksgiving game in 1995, I still have the stub. our seats were the first row in the 2nd level of seats, and were priced at $62.50, I also remember my dad paying $5 to park.

    Fast forward……

    I last went to a game in 2005, My seats were in the upper bowl at cost 70 bucks a pop. I paid $15 to park my car, and drank 2 15 oz beers @ $8 a pop, ate plate of nachos at $6, and bought a t shirt for $30. I also watched a drunken retard throw his $12 25 oz beer on another drunken retard for bumping into him and causing him to spill his $12 25 oz beer.

    I spent the majority of the time watching the jumbo tron since I could barely see the field.

    I spent $129 that day, I had just graduated college, and was jobless. I spent that money from what little savings I had at the time simply because I love football.

    Now I own a home, and I am stable. In the last year I was able to scrape enough together to finish my basement, build a bar down there, and deck it out with lions and tigers gear.

    I would love to go to a game especially since they are winning now, but it really doesn’t make financial sense to spend a large chunk of what little disposal income I have for my fiance and I to go to a game, when I can honestly have my boys over and enjoy the game more in my Lions den. Hell, I even took the Tuesday after the lions MNF game with Da Bears off work last year so I could enjoy it. I considered going to the game, But when I priced out decent seats for me and my girl, 2 beers each, parking, gas, ETC it was pushing over $300.

    Bottom line is Ford Field was built with an additional 2% added to the sales tax in the area surrounding Detroit to fund the stadium, and I lived in that area when it was being taxed. I want to know how the hell the NFL justify’s blacking the game out when my tax dollars paid for the stadium?

    And furthemore, before I bought my home I had sunday ticket BEFORE the price drop. I want to kn ow HOW IN THE F*** the NFL can possibly justify blacking the games out when I was shelling out big bucks to watch their product.

    Bottom line is my age bracket is the future of NFL fans. And as long as the price of attending a game with my fiance is more than a car payment, I will continue to stay home.

  27. jimmylions says: Jul 2, 2012 1:41 PM

    It’s about time they did something about the blackout rule – they should ditch it all together,

  28. morganwick says: Jul 2, 2012 7:47 PM

    Does anyone know if the upper-level seats at the proposed LA stadiums will be free of the problems you’ve been complaining about? How about the new Vikings stadium (I don’t know if it’s even that far in design yet, but if it isn’t I hope they’re reading this)?

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