Tampa bars defy blackout

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.

52 responses to “Tampa bars defy blackout

  1. Tampa’s team is not as bad as people think.
    They have the quarterback that I felt would be better than Matt Stafford in Josh Freeman because Freeman never played with talent, but succeeded as a quarterback.
    If he has an underappreciated tight end in Kellen Winslow, he will do well.
    Tampa residents, go watch your team. Your boys can play!

  2. Can fans petition the league to blackout local games even when they are sold out?
    For example the Carolina Panthers are a disgusting NFL product right now, if enough people begged and pleaded do you think they would listen?
    PFT Jr. Blackout Specialist

  3. The NFL needs to review it’s blackout policies, which go back to what, 1960?
    If there are less than 5000 tickets, for example, on a Thursday before a game, why not make the remaining half price? Give the fans a break!
    And why is it 72 hours? Why not make it 10am on game day? They are showing it on TV to the away teams market. The cameras and crews are in place anyway. So why not give the home team a chance to sell out?
    And if these bars pay $1500-2000 per year to show all NFL games, why are they blacked out at all?
    And what about the NFL ticket? Didn’t the customers pay $100 for every game all year? And now they, too, cannot see the game?
    Say what? NFL, it is time to review your policies.

  4. 1) The NFL takes state and/or local money to build their stadiums
    2) The NFL takes broadcast rights money from Fox/NBC/ESPN (and presumably, doesn’t give any back for blackouts)
    3) If the NFL doesn’t get maximized gate revenue (i.e. sellout) they take their ball, the money from the gate, the money from the networks, and the money from the state and local governments, and goes home. (oh, and I forgot money for all the licensed apparel being worn in the stadium, the bars, and peoples homes).
    4) And if you try to get around that, they sue, for more money.
    it’s not about the pluses and the minuses, it’s about the plus and the plus.

  5. What’s the deal if they had NFL Sunday ticket… would they then be able to broadcast because they paid the fee? Seems shady to me!

  6. The Glazers knew what they were doing when they let the game black out. Who wants to see a blowout with more black and yellow in the crowd than pewter?
    P.S. Grimm’s gotta go.

  7. So what you are saying is a great deal of people got to see the Bucs show that they are who many of us thought they were!

  8. Hooray! The NFL is going after people who were watching ads on their TV broadcasts!
    When is the NFL going to get their head out of their ass and eliminate the blackout rule? There isn’t one for the MLB, NHL or NBA and they seem to do just fine.

  9. GFY, NFL. They did nothing wrong. If you want to go after someone, go after the people streaming the game online (good luck) or go after the teams with their ridiculous ticket prices during these crappy economic times.

  10. This is nothing new….people do it every day The NFL needs to get smart & find a way to stream games online as a part of your internet package or something like that. Like they have ESPN3.com its not the greatest but its better than nothing & this blackout was BS that stadium looked packed on sunday. The NFL has to change the blackout rules.

  11. Just once I’d like to see a jury with enough stones to say :” Not a dime, you greedy SOB’s , not one thin dime”. Of course, it won’t even come to that because the lawyers won’t insist on a jury trial, and judges are always in bed with big business.

  12. “Bernie O’Brien, the proprietor of O’Brien’s Irish Pub, admits that he made the game available for viewing by his patron.”
    Just one patron? Boy, the NFL is going to make a killing suing over this one.

  13. There is a MLB blackout rule….and their rules are more arcane/dumb than the NFL.
    At least the NFL is straight forward. I could get blacked out of a Twins game in Nebraska.

  14. O’Briens and other local pubs should consider this the next time the Tampa Tribune comes knocking looking for advertising. They did not have to make a big deal of this and especially did not have to contact the NFL TATTLE TALES!

  15. Screw the NFL.
    You’re telling me these mom & pop bars who make their living on catering to local sports fans can’t supply the bread and butter of their draw because the BILLIONAIRE NFL can’t stand to have a few empty seats?
    Screw the NFL. I’m about done.

  16. I don’t believe that local governments should build stadiums for the NFL but if they do they should put in a requirement that the NFL can’t blackout games in stadiums funded by the public.

  17. So – I’m gathering from this once again piss-poorly written story that the bar picked up a signal from Orlando or Ft Meyers or some other station outside of the blackout area.
    This is crap – is the nfl going to start going after everybody with a good digital antenna and high roof? If they’re going to be that much of dicks they make the stations decrease their power during the games.

  18. What’s the deal if they had NFL Sunday ticket… would they then be able to broadcast because they paid the fee? Seems shady to me!
    Sunday ticket still blacks out local games – (of course directv is not very forthcoming about it) it’s ridiculous

  19. That’s a real good move before a lock-out.
    Aggressively attack local businesses and fans for finding a way to see their favorite team play, during an NFL mandated local blackout. Can the people of Tampa watch the game on their sprint mobile phones via NFL.com, or is that blacked out too?
    Taking further steps to punish NFL/Team supporters is no way to do business. Clearly the NFL has lost touch with the working class fans.

  20. What if the bar simply subscribed to DirecTV, and aired the game that way? I can watch every game on Sunday Ticket, regardless of whether it was blacked out to the local fans, or maybe the local teams in my area simply never get blacked out? Anybody from Tampa have DirecTv??? For those that have Sunday ticket, can you still watch the game?

  21. Gmoney says:
    September 27, 2010 11:10 AM
    What’s the deal if they had NFL Sunday ticket… would they then be able to broadcast because they paid the fee? Seems shady to me!
    —I think public display of the game requires one to pay a fee. They might technically have the game on DTV…I don’t know if they could show it.

  22. Oh NO! They may have to “form over money”. Maybe Mr. O’Brien should “form over” the $7 a month for NFL Redzone and then nothing is ever blacked out. Then again the Bucs wouldn’t be on that much either.

  23. As long as the NFL keeps their Sunday Ticket exclusive to a provider I don’t have or care to have, and as long as they’re going to ask more than it’s worth to get the package, I’m going to stream games for free.
    This year the streams have gotten better, but it’s still not as good as watching them on my 57 inch HD TV. That being said, I am still getting to see the games I want to see, and I’m still having TV adds shoved down my throat, so I don’t feel that I’m doing anything wrong at all. I’m sure the NFL doesn’t see it that way, but I really don’t care. I’m sick of doing things the way rich greedy bastards want to do things.

  24. Hopefully, more establishments will give the NFL the middle finger and tell them to hell with the blackout rule. With all the streaming sites available who cares if the NFL blackout a game or two. Go right ahead.

  25. 1. It seems reasonable to me for bars to do exactly this.
    2. Its clear the blackout has more to do with hiding how awful the Bucs are from the local populace than selling tickets.
    3. The people watching past the first 5 minutes *HAD* to be Steeler fans.

  26. It’s the NO FUN LEAGUE at it’s best. Take your fans to court! As long as we keep watching in record numbers, don’t expect the No Fun League to change any of their greedy ways…and don’t forget all those church basements that are prohibited from showing Super Bowl games! That REALLY hurts their gate!

  27. How does “forming” money over work? Is it more fun than forking over money?
    Also, is this bizarro world? I do understand why there are blackouts, but does it not seem odd that the NFL is threatening legal action against people for watching the NFL? Doesn’t the NFL want to be watched? I was pretty sure that was the goal.

  28. Dizzy Dog says: September 27, 2010 11:08 AM
    “If there are less than 5000 tickets, for example, on a Thursday before a game, why not make the remaining half price? Give the fans a break!”
    Would you buy a ticket at full price if you knew if you waited long enough the price would drop?
    Right, nobody else would either.

  29. What’s the big deal just go to the games! Either you’re a fan or your not. If you think Buccaneers tickets are ridiculous then try going to a Redskins game but yet they sellout the stands every week because they have a loyal fan base.
    Glazer’s might want to think about relocating the team!

  30. The blackout rule is one of the dumbest rules in sports. What exactly does the NFL benefit? ZILCH. It just seems to be an “I’ll take my ball and go home” mentality. They don’t lose any money because most of the advertising seems to be national rather than local and they replace the blacked out game with the featured nation-wide game anyway. The NFL’s greed has caused these ridiculous prices. Player salaries are huge, and teams overprice everything from parking, to concessions, to ticket prices to jerseys/souvenirs. Poll all the fans that enter the stadium after a blackout and ask them if they showed up because of the blackout. I would be impressed if they found more than 100 people to actually say yes.

  31. Offer the game on pay per view in HD for an *affordable* price and forget about trying to force ppl into the stadium.
    They are fighting a losing battle trying to prevent fans from seeing a broadcast in this day and age.

  32. “Bernie O’Brien, the proprietor of O’Brien’s Irish Pub, admits that he made the game available for viewing by his patron.”
    Just one patron? Boy, the NFL is going to make a killing suing over this one.
    My thoughts exactly!!!
    Just like……
    “At worst, O’Brien’s and others could have to form over money”
    What is he gonna do, create money?!?! WTF is form over money!?!?!?
    Up a little late Dorkio!??! You looked like hell on the post game show!

  33. zam says: September 27, 2010 1:12 PM
    “Offer the game on pay per view in HD for an *affordable* price and forget about trying to force ppl into the stadium.”
    That’s exactly where this is going. Whether or not it’s “Affordable” remains to be seen.
    Soon there won’t be any more free games on TV at all. All professional sporting events are headed straight to PPV. Wanna see a game on TV? Fork over $45.
    They’ve already set the precedent with NFL Sunday Ticket. People are willing to pay to watch football on TV.
    PPV is only the logical next step.

  34. Dizzy Dog is right–the 72-hour policy is ridiculous. It’s possible for networks to switch to other games on a second’s notice. If the objective is to pressure the public to buy tickets, then the window should be up to an hour or so before kickoff. And no game should be blacked out with fewer than 2,000 tickets left. Often those are single, odd-numbered, or nose-bleed seats that are nearly impossible to sell–especially at full price. And I’m sorry, but the recession is an excuse if you are one of the unemployed. Florida has been one of the hardest-hit states.
    That game was blacked out in my area, though I didn’t realize this was part of the Tampa viewing audience. But from what I saw on RedZone, it certainly looked sold out. The league has played dirty in CBA negotiations before and I wouldn’t believe them or the Glazers on anything at this point. The Glazers either tinkered with these numbers so they could poor-mouth to players and pressure them to take that 18-percent paycut. Or they deliberately blacked out a hugely popular game just so they could poor-mouth to fans and justify running an NFL franchise at bargain-basement prices while still charging top dollar for tickets and merchandise.
    So GOOD FOR THE BARS. The league makes clear time and again that it doesn’t give a damn about the fans or anything other than $$$$$$. Any bar owner able to take a dime out of the league coffers gets a tip o’ the hat from me. And if the NFL wants to strangle that golden goose known as the NFL fan by going after these guys, that’s fine. After they’ve thoroughly alienated American fans … lets see how much love they get from the Brits and the French.

  35. You guys are all very close to the real issue. The Bucs have a publicly financed stadium, designed to lure corporate customers into club seats and luxury boxes. The new NFL Stadiums are all designed for that purpose. In other words, the NFL doesn’t care about the fan.
    How many stories have you read about an NFL team lowering ticket prices during these tough times, in an attempt to keep the stadium full? ZERO. The story is always spun “we are not RAISING prices.” My Patriots’ tickets have gone from $35 a game in 2001 (the last season in Foxboro Stadium), to $169 per game this year, for essentially the same seats. Oh yeah, this includes the 2 meaningless exhibition games that you are forced to purchase with your season ticket package which raises the real price to $211 a game. I could buy a brand new, 50 plus inch LED TV every year for that money.
    I keep my tickets because I love the whole Sunday game experience and I can easily afford them. But I understand why others are staying home around the league. If the NFL locks out the players for a season they risk losing many of us that have been loyal. Failing to sell out a game between two 2-0 teams should be a gigantic warning sign to the NFL. They better tread very carefully or they risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

  36. I think DirecTV blacks out games to accounts with business addresses, but not ones with home addresses. That’s why a guy with DirecTV in his house can see a blacked out game but a sports bar in the same city can’t show it.

  37. O’Brien’s should pay the NFL .34 cents on the dollar for whatever fine they impose.
    F’ing blackout rule is a joke.

  38. Mr. Florio – I must apologize, I misread the article and then made a rude comment about your “piss poor” reporting ability.
    this was a finely written informative well researched article

  39. Screw the NFL, and screw DirecTV. Any bar owners in Tampa want to send me six hundred bucks, I’ll build you a nice little media center PC with HDMI that you can hook up to your TVs and email you some URLs to watch it streaming. The best part is that you’ll only have to pay for it once.

  40. @Shadenfreuder …
    Good grief, I gasped out loud reading how much your ticket prices have increased in a decade. This is ridiculous.
    The league makes most of its money on television contracts and merchandising. And they make most of their stadium money on luxury boxes and advertising. There’s no reason to raise tiered seating to that level. Games wouldn’t be much fun on TV if no one were in the stands. Instead of gouging fans at the stadium, why don’t they create more packages for those of us who are watching on TV?
    I’d gladly pay for a Sunday Ticket plan, but Florida is not a happy place for satellite dishes and the NFL won’t negotiate with cable companies–again, because what works best for fans doesn’t interest them. I’m at least lucky enough to have Comcast so I can get the NFL Network and RedZone. Most people in my area have BrightHouse and can’t get anything.

  41. TO: Stinky Panda
    I think you’re right…, O’Briens should have a fine levied that is 34 cents on the dollar for all profits by showing the game.
    Considering one fan requested the game, and the cover charge was probably $0…, then O’Briens should legally be obligated to pay the NFL…, nothing.

  42. So what exactly is the legal definition of the blackout rule?
    As far as the NFL states at the end of the games: “Any broadcast or rebroadcast of the game without the express written consent of the NFL and the Home Team…”
    Broadcast specifically applies to the transmission of the medium, wireless or wired. What they did was recieve a transmission and displayed it in their establishment. They did nothing wrong, as far as I can see.
    The real question is, who transmitted the game via Internet?
    If it was the Bucs, Steelers, or NFL and the subscription payed by the owner, tough sh!t! They should have thought of that before making the stream available.

  43. Blackouts are stupid. Budlight and Coors don’t give the NFL enough money that they can run everygame on T.V. It especially sucks if your team is not local and they play in these cities……so stupid

  44. ACTUALLY, O’brien’s is the home for the Bay Area Black N’ Gold club and the Steeler fans there easily TRIPLE the Bucs fan, O’Briens’ makes lots of money during Steeler games, which are broadcast from Direct TV, so they would rather do illegally broadcast an internet fee than tick off that club… Trust me!! They probably make more money on game day than the rest of the week put together!

  45. if a game is not sold out, why not make them available for pay per view and get rid of this stupid blackout rule. At least we could have the option. The NFL is so freaking greedy. There is another team called the Florida Huskers if we all start supporting those teams, maybe the NFL would get their head out of their asses!!!!!!!

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