With 9,000 tickets left to sell as of Thursday, there’s no way the Chargers could have avoided a blackout of their game against the Colts without financial assistance. (Or without buying some of the tickets on their own.) With no blackout of any Monday Night Football game since the last week of the 1999 season, ESPN stepped up to preserve a streak that predates the movement of MNF to the four-lettter network by seven years.
The Chargers have announced that ESPN and a “consortium” of sponsors have guaranteed the purchase of enough tickets to lift the local blackout. (We won’t be listing the consortium of sponsors by name, unless they also want to become a consortium of PFT sponsors.)
It means that the tickets were purchased at 34 cents on the dollar. It also means that the commitment likely was made before the false urgency of a 24-hour extension may have prompted some
suckers customers to buy tickets, under the impression that’s the only way they’d see the game.
“ESPN is pleased to have avoided the blackout and we are happy to work with local military and charitable organizations in San Diego to distribute a portion of the tickets to individuals and families who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend the game,” ESPN’s senior director of programming and acquisitions Doug White said.
With ESPN already paying more than $100 million per week to broadcast Monday Night Football, what’s another $500,000 or so to escape the embarrassment of having a supposedly marquee game not televised in its local market?
Of course, it won’t really help ESPN locally, since the game will be broadcast on KUSI-TV in San Diego. But ESPN has avoided the stigma of having a Monday Night Football game blacked out on its watch.
And the NFL has extended its string of no blackouts in the 2013 season to six weeks, with an asterisk or two.