Two weeks, no blackouts

The NFL is winning the war to get butts in seats.  So far.

Through two weeks of the 2013 season, there have been and will be no blackouts, according to the league office.

The hot spots for Week Two were Tampa, Buffalo, and Oakland.  On Thursday, all three teams announced that enough tickets had been sold to permit the games to be televised locally.

It’s part of a positive trend for the league.  Based on numbers provided by the league, one games was blacked out through two weeks in 2012, one was blacked out through two weeks in 2011, and three were blacked out through two weeks in 2010.

If my math is correct (and it rarely is), five games have been blacked out in the first two weeks of the last four seasons combined.  In contrast, five total games were blacked out through the first two weeks of the 2004 season.

In 1993, 11 of 28 games were blacked out through two weeks.  That’s 39 percent.  Five years earlier, it was 12 of 28.

In 1983, it was 17 of 28 — a whopping 61 percent.  And in 1978, 20 of 28 games played through the first two weeks of the NFL regular season were blacked out locally.

So while the NFL is looking for ways to get more fans to choose coming to stadiums over staying home, things have improved dramatically over the past several decades.

Aiding the cause over the last two years has been the ability of every team to reduce its minimum sales threshold from 100 percent of all non-premium tickets down to 85 percent.  In Oakland, nearly 10,000 seats have been tarped this year, reducing the capacity to 53,286.

As the NFL tries to strike the balance between full stadiums and maximized TV audiences, the key could be to shrink the size of current stadiums — and to install fewer seats in the next wave of NFL venues.

Of course, the league also could reduce the price of tickets.  Or the NFL could seize on the cockeyed wisdom in Colts owner Jim Irsay’s recent justification of preseason ticket costs, setting a price point for each game based on a variety of factors, including the quality of the opponent and the home team’s recent performances and overall record.

Really, why let the secondary market set the number?  The teams should be able to charge more, and compelled to charge less, based on how significant or otherwise a game may be.

35 responses to “Two weeks, no blackouts

  1. Thanks for buying the rest of the 85% required tickets to lift the black-out Saints fans! Now I can watch the game in TV! You guys always come through for us!

  2. Irsay’s idea isn’t crazy. MLB actually does that. Costs way more, for instance, to go to a Cards-Cubs game than it does to go to a Cards-Diamondbacks game. Rivalry leads to higher prices.

    I know that the Rays also do the same thing when the Yankees and Red Sox come to Tampa. Let the market set the price! Of course, one major problem will be that prices will dive in places like Oakland, Jacksonville, San Diego and Tampa..

  3. I always wondered how many people actually buy tickets to a game they might not have gone to due to the possibility of a blackout?

  4. The day’s coming when the NFL will use CGI to fill the empty seats and advanced audio technology to provide the crowd noise while most of us sit at home in our man caves and watch the games in super high definition on our 89 inch curved screen TVs.

    The only problem will be that we’ll have to cough up $125 a game to NFL network, which at some point in the future may well be the sole provider of football games. The league will also have a clause in our user agreement that says we have to send them $5 for every beer we drink during the game, $3 for every bathroom break, and $8.98 if we make nachos in our kitchen’s microwave.

  5. Don’t worry…San Diego will undoubtedly break that streak…can’t say I blame them. The Stupor Chokers suck…bad!

  6. robinson32183 says:
    Sep 13, 2013 10:49 AM
    Jacksonville Jaguars season tickets aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.


    God bless the soul that pays for Jags season tix. Sorry couldn’t resist that one. I know the Jags actually have serious fans and I apologize. I recently read an article talking about Jacksonville is really serious about analytics and weird stats.

    Until I read that Shad Khans son is the brains behind it and fired the last regime because they wouldn’t even look at his little sheet, and that their work showed Blaine Gabbert is a good qb with an adjusted qb rating around 85 compensating for dropped balls and dropping plays where he had crappy protection. At which point they lost all credibility to me. It may work out for them but they may want to hire a real expert if they are committed to a statistical approach at building a team.seems like the ol’ meddling owner syndrome is the ailment of the Jags.

    The best approach may be to “Tank for Teddy” or the LSU qb.

  7. The logic seems flawed that people will buy tickets to go see a team that is not good enough to sell out. If a team is not capable of selling out and the option is either shelling out a lot of money to see them or watching a different game and listening to the radio broadcast, I think I would stay home. The only reason there have been fewer blackouts has little to do with the number of people attending and instead has to do with the percentage clause.

  8. Sorry NFL, but as long as I have to pay $50 to park almost 2 miles from the stadium only to sit in seats in the upper deck at a price of $160 each while drinking a $9 beer and eating a stale $6 hotdog, I’ll pass.

    Just give me my NFL Sunday Ticket and big screen TV at home. You’ve priced me out of the live experience.

  9. Blackouts are a rip-off. There should never be any! Clubs get billions in local taxpayer funding for building their stadiums – then turn around and tell the locals you can’t see the games unless you also buy all the tickets, too. Billionaire’s double-dipping on the working people.

  10. Again, the Bills weren’t even close to a blackout fyi. We go into the camper lot at the Ralph 6am on Saturday stay til Monday, the out of towners always have a great time with us. The patriots fans this year were all awesome, they loved being here. They say it sucks at foxboro because you basically can’t tailgate and it’s 50 bucks to park a car. We pay 50 for thee whole weekend, can’t beat that. Also we love tailgating with opposing team fans, if you ever bring a trailer to the Ralph stop by our tailgate you can’t miss it we have two giant speakers and for the home opener we had a DJ, ask for Mike D. Have a fun season everyone!

  11. packfaninthehook is exactly right. MLB teams adjust ticket prices all the time. Texas Rangers are the closest MLB team to me. Lower level seats are $15 higher when the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, or Yankees come to town. When it’s TB, Toronto, or HOU, they practically have to GIVE tickets away.

  12. This is a real problem that the NFL had to see coming years ago. As long as salaries keep going up, this problem will only get worse.

    They’d better figure it out, fast.

  13. @ScottyHammer that’s not the NFL that’s your team. It’s 25 in Buffalo and tickets start at around 30-50 and Ralph Wilson just lowered our season ticket process we sit Bills side at around the 40 yd line 23 rows up, $70 a game.

  14. Did you see the Jacksonville attendance? It was worse than a baseball game. Honestly, I’ve never seen a regular season game have such low attendance. Move that team. It is a waste in that city.

  15. Gotta love how this article is about blackout hot beds and even mentioning Bills, Bucs and Raiders, but you people still insert Jax who doesnt even have blackout issues into your comment. By the way Did anyone read im the article that Oakland trapped 10,000 seats this year. Gotta love the brain cells out here in the world

  16. ScottyHammer is right. Sort of.

    The prices are ridiculous. The price to see a Seahawks game varies widely per ticket. To see this Sundays game you have to pay through the nose. But sometimes you can get tickets for around 70 bucks for the cheap seats. Sometimes you can find parking for free but you have to get there VERY early to find a spot. Otherwise parking is very expensive on gameday. Food and beverage is even more ridiculous than at the movie theater.

    Everything about football costs too much. Even the NFL network costs too much. But if you don’t want to go to the bar to watch Thursday night games then you have to get the NFL network. And the league knows we will all pay the high prices because there is nothing like NFL football and we love it so much.

    I wish the ticket prices were lower and standardized. I want it to be the same price to see the Broncos or the 49ers as it is to see the Bills or the Jags.

  17. @taintedsaints2009

    Do you have any idea as to what you are talking about?

    Jax ranks in the low 20s in attendance.

    Do some research. Attendance is not an issue in Jax.

  18. What’s the thing that happens in between criticizing fellow fans for not having enough fans? Some kind of game? Is it any good?

    I’m a big fan of making clichéd, repetitive insults about certain fan-bases but I’m less clear on what this so-called sport is that people talk about every now and again in between laughing about how a guy who lives in Jacksonville and loves his team just like the rest of us might actually lose the thing he enjoys.

    I mean how funny is that?

    Being a National Attendance League fan is so much fun!

    Also what’s empathy? I, like seemingly every other person on the internet, do not have that. I’ve heard it’s like super important to being a good person but whatever … hey Jags fans! London!

  19. By the way Jags fans … while I sympathize with you (the national media does suck and you are some good fans) your continued attempts to deflect criticism from your own fan-base by attacking other fan-bases is so incredibly misguided it makes me considerably less sympathetic toward you.

    We should all stop this idiotic fan bashing. I love football. I don’t give a crap if some area which has been utterly decimated by the recession (far more than others) only sold 83% instead of 85% of their tickets.

    Stop it. All of you. Jags fans should know better.

  20. Raiders Owner recently said Blackouts were the opposite of what should be done when a team is struggling. Thought it was good logic, make the games available on T.V. to keep generating interest.

    Always wondered why someone like Jerry Jones let the secondary market sell tickets for $500 that they paid him $100 for. I like the idea of variable pricing by the teams by the game.

  21. Consider this: Jacksonville vs. Oakland

    What an ugly mess. And before any (usual) Raiders’ fans pipe up about their “loyalty”, everyone remember that the two lowest-valued teams in the entire NFL are the Jags at #32 and the Raiders at #31. That’s largely a result of ticket sales, and secondary revenue streams.

    The Jags never get anyone in their stadium, and Oakland gives the tickets away at a fraction of the cost that other teams charge, and even then have been forced to put tarps over unfilled sections of their stadium, to cheat the “sell-out” numbers.

    It’s little wonder that both the Jags and Raiders come up most often when people talk about teams relocating to Los Angeles.

  22. St Louis Cardinals do a fluctuating ticket price. When they play bad teams they sell $5 tickets. And $18 can get you a really great seat. It goes both ways though. Good teams mean there’s no tickets under $25.

  23. I’m in Ontario Canada and a Saints fan. You get tired of Buffalo Bills football in a hurry here. So I buy the Sports package from my cable provider. It’s $32 a month and can watch all the pro and college sports. I don’t watch hockey, baseball or basketball so I keep it for the 4 months of football season and cancel after last regular season game. All playoff games are locally broadcast here so I don’t need Sunday Ticket for them. So for me total coast is 128 bucks. I can watch any game I want when the Saints start blowing out opponents and it gets boring. Who Dat!!!!

  24. I went to the very first Bills game in Ralph Wilson Stadium (then it was called Rich). The capacity was 80,020. It seems every time it has been renovated since then, the capacity has gotten smaller and smaller. And sellouts become more and more difficult to attain.

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