PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Blackouts Need to Go the way of the Dodo

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Reality: The Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, and Indianapolis Colts were each given a second extension to sell the remaining tickets that are available for their home playoff games, to avoid a local TV blackout.

Perception: The NFL is the most popular thing in America. Fox’s TV ratings are the highest in 20 years and CBS’s are the highest in 19 years. Sunday Night Football on NBC is consistently the most watched “show” on TV each week. Football is here to stay, but has the transition been made from going to the stadium for that live experience to experiencing HD TV in the comfy settings of your living room for free?

Over 40 years ago, the NFL put the blackout rule into effect to prevent people from staying at home to watch games, instead of buying tickets and going to the stadium. The blackout only applies to the “local TV market” of the home team. The last NFL playoff game that was blacked out was the Ravens at Dolphins game in January 2002.

Recently, the FCC proposed ending blackouts entirely. All the major sports leagues are fighting it, but ultimately Congress will decide. And with what’s been said on Capitol Hill, it appears lawmakers agree with the public. If taxpayers are paying for the publically financed stadiums out of their own money, and not the owners, then the taxpayers should also be able to watch the games on local TV with a threat of a blackout.

CNN’s Rachel Nichols says “to me, the blackout rule is like banning grocery stores from selling food each night until all nearby restaurants are full.”

Note: There can be some good that comes out of this kind of thing, such as this:

Still, the point remains…

If the NFL and the owners don’t like having stadiums that aren’t sold out, then do what other businesses need to do to get more business… lower prices! The game time temperature in Green Bay is expected to be -30 degrees. Yes, that’s a minus in front of the 30. Why should a couple fork out a minimum of $300 for two tickets, $40 for parking, and $50 on food/drink to sit in that mess, when they can sit in their PJs in their la-z-boy and watch the game on High-Def TV?

Now, even saying all of that in defense of the fans… I still believe there is no excuse to not sell out a home playoff game. The Eagles sold out, and it’ll be snowing there. Yes, it’ll be cold in Green Bay, but their field is nicknamed “The Frozen Tundra,” so they should be used to it! Indianapolis? They have no excuse! They play in a heated dome! You can bet that Baltimore would have sold out a home playoff game in no time flat. Guess Irsay shouldn’t have moved his team if he wanted passionate fans.

Reality: Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell interview with the Washington Redskins for their head coaching position Thursday, and will interview with the Detroit Lions for their opening Friday.

Perception: As our own Tom Moore wrote Thursday, Caldwell getting a head coaching job could be a blessing for the Ravens.

Baltimore was pretty excited when Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron last season, but the honeymoon ended quickly in 2013. The Ravens offense never got going, and all the same critiques that we heard about Cameron were being said about Caldwell. His play calling was predictable and vanilla.

Harbaugh said that no coaching changes were happening right now, but he left open the possibility that things could change this offseason. Harbaugh is loyal. He doesn’t want to let Caldwell go, especially after he fired Cameron last season. If he changes offensive coordinators again, it may come back to him. However, if Caldwell leaves because he got a head coaching gig with another team, then Harbaugh gets to bring in another offensive coordinator without having to take the fall for another failed offensive regime.

Reality: The Ravens have 14 players that are Unrestricted Free Agents.

Perception: Our own Brian Macfarland previewed the Ravens free agents earlier this week. Here is what I see happening:

Brandon Stokley has announced his retirement. Dallas Clark will not be back. Michael Oher and Ed Dickson will not be back. Bernard Scott will probably not be re-signed. Terrence Cody and Jeromy Miles will come down to who else is available for the Ravens to sign. If the money is right, they could re-sign both of them, or they will play the market for options.

As much as I’d love to see Arthur Jones brought back, I think he’ll go the way of Paul Kruger, Jarrett Johnson, and others. He’ll get big money that the Ravens won’t be able to match. Either Corey Graham or James Ihedigbo will not be re-signed.

Jacoby Jones is interesting. Jones will have to take a discount to stay in Baltimore and I’m guessing some team will throw some money his way. The deciding factor for Jones will be who gives him an opportunity as a receiver. Most teams see his true value on special teams, but Jones wants to play offense. The team that agrees to give him the ball will be the one to sign him.

That leaves Dennis Pitta and Eugene Monroe. I expect the Ravens to make them their two biggest priorities this offseason. My heart would like to also see them try to bring back Daryl Smith, and I think they will.

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

5 Raves on “PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Blackouts Need to Go the way of the Dodo

  1. Alex on said:

    You nailed the point with the ticket pricing for Playoff games. Remember that the team sets the prices for the season and per game. But it is the NFL that sets the playoff and Super Bowl prices (before the secondary market ups the prices even more). What they need to do is keep the Playoff ticket prices in par to regular season ticket prices. My seat didn’t get any better in location and view from the regular $84 I pay for the season and now is $175 for the playoff game.

  2. xd40c on said:

    I’m in favor of the rule. The team plays in front of a live audience, not studio cameras. If there’s no audience, why play? And yes, I am a season ticket holder. I’ve had my butt out there in the cold, rain and (this year) snow.

    Yes, I agree HD TV is nice. When they’re away, I love to sit in front of the tube and watch the game. If there were no Blackout rule, how many folks would actually go to a Sunday night game in December?

    I do think playoff tix are too expensive. My invoice for 2 seats at 2 games was over $800!

  3. TheChuck on said:

    I, too, feel that the blackout needs to go the way of the dodo. I am for anything that takes down the monopolistic ways of the NFL and MLB.

  4. Joshua on said:

    I see the two biggest offseason priorities being Pitta and Monroe, with Graham a close third. Since we surrendered two draft picks to get him, Monroe will be back. I think Pitta returns as well, with Graham being told to test the open market and then possibly returning on a team-friendly deal.

  5. John P on said:

    I have mixed emotions on the blackout rule. On one hand, stadium revenue is a key factor for owners. And a loud stadium makes for much better TV. On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me to sit in GB this weekend.

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