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NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue 216

Posted by timothy
from the why-I-always-miss-the-quidditch-matches dept.
An anonymous reader writes with word of new movement on an old front: namely, the rule that makes it hard for sports fans to see coverage of local teams. The 39-year-old blackout rule basically "prevents games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in response to a 2011 petition by consumers, has decided to consider abolishing this rule. The National Football League (NFL) has of course objected, claiming that the rule allows it to keep airing their games on free TV. If that were to change and they would have to move to cable, they argue, the "result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare." In their petition to the FCC, consumers point out that the NFL charges "exorbitant prices for tickets" which results in lower attendance. The blackout rule, they claim, therefore punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can't sell enough stadium tickets. NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions. Even if the FCC supports the petition, however, sports leagues can and probably will privately negotiate blackouts to boost their revenue.
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NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue

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  • Punishes fans? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:35AM (#47636455)
    "NFL charges exorbitant prices for tickets" ...

    " punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can't sell enough stadium tickets"

    "NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions.".

    Sounds like the obvious answer is "Then don't watch it."

    But I can see this article isn't about rationality, but about "I want to watch it" and "I want it to be free" and "I want it available under my terms".
    • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:47AM (#47636483) Homepage Journal

      I don't understand how the rule that prevents airing the matches keeps them on free air channels?

      I mean, if NFL wants, they sure as fuck can put on a rule that causes them to be always available for broadcasting? and the other way too for that matter.

      I mean, the "if tickets not sold then no show" as a rule sure sounds like it only makes it harder for them to show the matches if they want.

      furthermore, WHAT THE FUCKING KIND OF RULE IS THAT!?!? shouldn't the organizer of the event -any event- get to choose if it can be broadcast or not, since aren't they in control of the copyright of the recording????

      • furthermore, WHAT THE FUCKING KIND OF RULE IS THAT!?!? shouldn't the organizer of the event -any event- get to choose if it can be broadcast or not, since aren't they in control of the copyright of the recording????

        Ummm...for NFL games, the NFL is the organizer of the event, and get to choose whether it can be broadcast or not.

        So, what exactly is your problem with the rule?

        • by bondsbw (888959)

          They could let the host venue determine whether to blackout. Some might, others wouldn't, and eventually the better outcome would become the most popular.

      • I don't understand how the rule that prevents airing the matches keeps them on free air channels?

        Because the NFL has been forced to allow at least that.

        I mean, if NFL wants, they sure as fuck can put on a rule that causes them to be always available for broadcasting? and the other way too for that matter.

        Yup, absolutely. That's why Blackout Rule is an NFL rule.

        I mean, the "if tickets not sold then no show" as a rule sure sounds like it only makes it harder for them to show the matches if they want.

        furthermore, WHAT THE FUCKING KIND OF RULE IS THAT!?!? shouldn't the organizer of the event -any event- get to choose if it can be broadcast or not, since aren't they in control of the copyright of the recording????

        They are. And again, it's an NFL rule [wikipedia.org] preventing the broadcasting.
        In fact, the NFL had to be forced by law (Public Law 93-107) to at least allow broadcasting
        in those instances where a game is sold out 72h in advance.

        I do understand your confusion though, the summary does a horrible job at explaining what's going on.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          oh nfl rule.

          in that case, why fcc need do something about it or why they are involved? they don't have a monopoly on sports.

          now, if cities give them preferential money, stadium leases etc. then the cities should ask them to show the games in return - or just let them pay like every other business..

      • shouldn't the organizer of the event -any event- get to choose if it can be broadcast or not, since aren't they in control of the copyright of the recording????

        Well, yes, they do. They are. The NFL is the organizer of the event, and controls the copyright of the recording. It's their rule that the game can't be broadcast locally if it isn't sold out, nobody else's. Who else did you think it might be?

    • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:03AM (#47636517) Homepage

      There is a very high probability that the team has received many valuable considerations from the local government including having the stadium built for them. It's not so unreasonable that the local citizens might expect a return on the investment.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:21AM (#47636549) Homepage Journal

        I happen to agree with you. We're downright illogical about our sports, but given the number of government built stadiums out there that sports teams normally get dedicated access to for next to nothing, it's not out of line to expect some concessions.

      • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dk20 (914954) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:49AM (#47636627)
        They can also do what Toronto, Ontario did with its skydome.
        Taxpayer funded cost of construction: $570 million
        Sale price to private corporations: $151 million

        So yeah, i can see how the taxpayers might want something after taking a $400 million dollar loss. The kicker is this is not the only "stadium" for such a small city.

        A lot of sports is all about taxpayer subsidies and huge player salaries.
        • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sarius64 (880298) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:04AM (#47636665)
          Not to mention the billions in free taxes from the feds, state, county, and city governments. Because billionaires have it so hard.
        • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:06AM (#47636667) Journal

          Toronto is a small city? It's the largest city in Canada and the 4th largest in North America, after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles.

          • by dk20 (914954)
            Small in the sense that how do you justify so many sports stadiums for that population?

            Just a boondogle, the leafs wont play in the old stadium, nor will they build a new one when they can just get the taxpayers to do it.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              The same thing happened in Dunedin, New Zealand. About 86% of the population were against building a stadium for a city of no more than 120,000 people, so they spent quarter of a billion dollars on it promising it would be paying its own way within a few years.

              It's not, it won't, and they keep borrowing millions from the rates of the city.

              The local Highlanders rugby team are constantly whinging that they have to pay to use it, even though they're getting a large subsidy and constant gifts of cash - not too

          • However, if you consider the metropolitain area, it is the 14th largest metropolitain area in North America.
            • Depends on whose stats you look at. If you look at "metropolitan area," recent stats I see come up with around rank 8 (similar size to Houston and Washington DC). If you look at urban "agglomeration" (which actually measures connected urban land, rather than "metro areas" which are usually defined by surrounding municipal structures and may include more rural or disconnected surrounding areas), then Toronto may be more like 5th. But no matter how you calculate, it's one of the most populous cities/areas
          • by westlake (615356)

            Toronto is a small city? It's the largest city in Canada and the 4th largest in North America

            Population of Metro Toronto 5.6 million.

            Then there is the golden triangle: Toronto - Hamilton - Buffalo.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Yes. And the best thing for them have done would have been to buy the team and make it a municipal asset in full or in part. Huge corporate subsidies with no guarantees of public return are bad policy across the board.

        • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Informative)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:46AM (#47636743)

          Yes. And the best thing for them have done would have been to buy the team and make it a municipal asset in full or in part.

          Green Bay, Wisconsin has done exactly that. Their football team is the only community owned professional sports team in the US.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            I was thinking of them when I wrote that. It was a good choice for the community. That way the local team has real meaningful ties to the community and the "home team" can act in the public interest.

          • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by pepty (1976012) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:00AM (#47637333)
            And the leagues banned this type of ownership (corporate, both public and private) to keep it from happening again. A team has to be owned by a maximum of 32 people (not corporations), one of which must own at least 30% of the team.
            • by Wycliffe (116160)

              And the leagues banned this type of ownership (corporate, both public and private) to keep it from happening again. A team has to be owned by a maximum of 32 people (not corporations), one of which must own at least 30% of the team.

              I would love to hear their "politically correct" reason for doing that. That basically means that they intentionally made a rule that
              made it a rich person only game. I'm not sure what the non politically correct reasoning would be either. This just reeks of cronyism.
              I'm glad I'm not a sports fan and I think everyone else would be better off if they also stopped contributing to professional sports.
              Watch college sports or better yet join a local league and play yourself. Stop contributing to the corruptio

      • by pepty (1976012)
        Seeing as many of the local citizens don't actually follow football, we'll take that ROI in cash, not tickets or broadcasts, thank you very much.
      • by turp182 (1020263)

        Fantastic statement, one a lawyer should take up (or a team, with different players in different positions).

        If there is a single penny of public money supporting the league (stadium) via public debt or financing, then why the F*** should the public not be able to watch it publicly.

        If there isn't, do as they please.

        F***ing great point. I can't say it hard or long enough.

        The clause should read as follows: Broadcasting rights can be limited only if there is no public money involved in financing the location o

    • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gogo0 (877020) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:03AM (#47636663)
      pro football is like smoking crack, only harder to kick.

      the NFL hates its fans with a *passion*, as evident by their business practices, and they punish us every way they can find (new terrible red zone ads, EA madden exclusivity, directv/verizon exclusivity, ~$90 preseason game ticket prices, $200 streaming games only outside the USA [NHL is $50, MLB similar -both available in the USA], etc).

      if anyone (myself included) *could* quit enjoying seeing their team play, we would have already, and the NFL knows. the NFL is a shit organization, but we the fans have made it clear that we will put up with whatever bullshit they throw at us.

      anyway, i dont think its unreasonable to want to be able to watch a game on tv. watching at home and attending a game are entirely different things. no one says 'lets not go to the game, it's on tv".
      its very telling that the NFL needs a *law* to force people to go to games and pay their exhorbitant ticket costs.
      • by jbolden (176878)

        All the things you listed as punishment are getting you to pay more money to them. They aren't punishing you they are however charging you for a service you like a lot. I suspect having local games often not be on TV is a way to encourage people to have season tickets. It doesn't matter on an individual level if collectively that behavior raises ticket prices.

        • by Gogo0 (877020)
          i consider it punishment as numerous very popular services they *could* provide dont exist:
          -a competitor to the ever-stale Madden games
          -streaming games online
          -a way to watch all games (not only the ones you happen to get on tv in your area) without needing a ~$200 satellite subscription

          these give consumers more choice and flexibility and are things that fans *really want* and will be happy to pay for. maybe "punishment" is the wrong word, "abuse" or "mistreatment" may fit better
          • by jbolden (176878)

            a competitor to the ever-stale Madden games

            It is unclear if that generates more or less revenue for the NFL. Clearly lots of football games do exist. The only thing Madden has is rights to use trademarks. It may very well be the case that having the unique rights to those trademarks are substantially more valuable than splitting them.

            streaming games online

            Why would they want to do that? They make a lot revenue from charging the broadcast networks the rights to their games. That's not punishing fans

            • by Gogo0 (877020)
              the business aspect makes sense, theyre obviously doing what brings in the most cash. no argument there. my point is that other US professional sports manage to treat their fans much better. probably because theyre afraid of actually losing fans (revenue) if they get too stupid. most companies have to balance their product, consumer happiness, and price. the NFL clearly understands that their fans are masochists who only care about the product and not the price or their own happiness. the NFL has none of th
              • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:25AM (#47636815)

                So just stop watching it, then.

                I didn't like the way a TV show I was watching from the start was going, I got angry about it, how it recycled plots and stole them from other shows, the stupid dialogue, the ridiculous way the story arc went and how the fans were being ignored, so I stopped watching it.

                Took a few weeks to get over it - I realised after the first week that I was only watching it out of habit, or ritual. I couldn't think of anything else to do so I'd just turn it on. Once I got through that, I realised something:

                I didn't really give a shit about it. It just wasn't that important.

                I think you'll find the same, if you just give it up. You'll struggle for the first game or two, then it'll get easier, than you'll realise that it just doesn't matter.

                Because it doesn't matter.

                • by Gogo0 (877020)
                  thats the logical solution, but people tend to be illogical when it comes to things like religion and sports as someone above already remarked.
                  at least i've only got the one monkey on my back
                • So just stop watching it, then.

                  Sure, one can stop watching NFL football. But how would someone go about subscribing to MSNBC, Fox News, or any other cable TV channel without paying for ESPN and Monday Night Football? Or is this an issue over which people are expected to give up multichannel subscription television entirely?

              • by jbolden (176878)

                my point is that other US professional sports manage to treat their fans much better..

                Maybe I don't know. Take horse racing for example. One of the things most destructive to the sport is early retirements. Horses retire early because there is much more money in breeding potential winners than being a winner. So once a horse wins enough to get a following it is likely to be breeding not racing. Incredibly destructive, has had huge impact on lowering the quality of the racing horses. It has undermin

                • by pepty (1976012)
                  Are the breeders retiring their horses earlier because they want immediate cash flow or because of risk management? Modern racehorses are so fragile that there is a very good chance they will be injured/put down if they are raced for one more season. If that happens: no breeding fees at all. That would definitely help explain a lowered quality (resilience) of the race horses in succeeding generations.
                  • by jbolden (176878)

                    It isn't immediate cash flow, these are rich people. But total cash flow is higher for breeding than racing. A winner is worth more not racing.
                    Risk is higher both for injury and the horse might start to suck lowering their eventual value.

                    Also the horses become much more pleasant to be around when they are breeding. It is more fun for the owners.

                    • by Fnord666 (889225)

                      Also the horses become much more pleasant to be around when they are breeding.

                      Funny, I'm the same way.

      • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:53AM (#47636917)

        its very telling that the NFL needs a *law* to force people to go to games and pay their exhorbitant ticket costs.

        It's the law forcing a limiting of the Blackout Rule on the NFL, not
        the NFL being forced to use the Blackout Rule by the law.

        The NFL doen't even care about people coming to the stadiums:
        The teams are allowed to purchase remaining seats to "unlock"
        the broadcasting for the price of the league's share of the ticket sales.

        So it's the NFL trying to force maximum revenue per game (for the NFL, that is).

      • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:4, Informative)

        by GIL_Dude (850471) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:58AM (#47637511) Homepage

        no one says 'lets not go to the game, it's on tv"

        Bzzt! Wrong! Maybe not many folks do, but I sure do. When presented with an opportunity to go I always decline and say that I would rather see it on TV. (Sometimes this has even been with free tickets). At home, there is no a-hole standing up in front of me the whole game. At home, no jackass behind me spills their beer on me. At home, the noise level is very low. At home, I can see the play and can see it from multiple angles with amazing replays. At home, the beer doesn't cost $10. At home, the bathroom is clean and safe and doesn't consist of a long metal trough. At home, I am unlikely to get attacked by some crazy drunk asshole and my car is unlikely to get vandalized. At home, the parking doesn't cost $25. Yeah, I've BEEN to pro football games twice. Never again.

    • Re:Punishes fans? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:06AM (#47636781)

      No, you can't claim that the NFL is just doing business and the customers should take it or leave it. The fact is that the NFL is the beneficiary of some rather unique laws, lobbied just for them. Take away their tax breaks. Take away their stadiums paid for by government money. Take away their excessive copyright laws. And then you can make your laissez faire claims.

    • You actually have a good point. If someone wants to hire me, they can pay my price, or I can choose not to work for them. If I don't want to pay for NFL tickets, or NFL Network, I can simply choose not to do so. I have no right to force them to work at a price I set.

      That said, the FCC doesn't need to enforce this rule. The NFL can negotiate with the teams and the TV stations. The government doesn't need to do the NFL' s dirty work for them.

      • by dryeo (100693)

        It's amazingly hard not to pay them. You have to carefully pick where you live (property taxes supporting the local team and federal government passing special laws for them) and any content you consume (many cable packages include paying for ESPN which shovels money at the NFL and possibly even some cell plans include ESPN).
        Easiest is to move away from N. America and if American, revoke your citizenship if you really don't want any of your money going to the NFL.

    • Sounds like the obvious answer is "Then don't watch it."

      This is not necessarily the same thing as not paying for it, though.

      But I can see this article isn't about rationality, but about "I want to watch it" and "I want it to be free" and "I want it available under my terms".

      An important question is: who paid for the stadium?

      I'm not sure the FCC ought to be involved, but any city paying for a stadium ought to negotiate, as part of the deal, that their residents can watch the games on free TV or on at-cost tickets or something until the city gets back its investment. Also, maybe we should stop electing star-struck fanbois who keep giving away the farm any time someone famous comes to town.

      • by pepty (1976012)
        It's not elected star-struck fanbois that are the problem, it's elected officials who subsequently work for the team after the negotiations have ended, the elected officials that are given sweet investment deals by the owners of the teams, the local newspapers that are both highly influential in local elections and dependent on the sports section for a huge chunk of their dwindling revenues ...
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      But I can see this article isn't about rationality, but about [...] "I want it available under my terms".

      You don't actually explain why this is a bad thing.
      Merely asserting that it is irrational does not make it so.

      "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to the public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

      Life-Line by Robert A. Heinlein, 1939

    • by pepty (1976012)
      You're right, you don't have to watch it.

      Paying for it however is mandatory (building stadiums, local tax breaks for teams) for most folks who live near an NFL team, whether or not they like football.

    • Sounds to me like people trying to get a better deal. What's wrong with that? Why should only the NFL be allowed to get a good deal? If they can't make money if the rule is removed they can just stop organizing games.
    • by Berkyjay (1225604)
      Well sure, you'd think this would be a "free market" thing. Except for the fact that the NFL is a government sponsored monopoly. If you are a fan of football, you have no where else to turn to watch football.
    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Sounds like the obvious answer is "Then don't watch it."

      People such as yourself who tell people to just give something up if they don't like a particular issue with it are fucking morons. The world is not made of absolutes, nothing is perfect and companies are out to make a profit off the back of the consumer.

      And if you had any actual capacity for thought in that little numbnut that rattles around in that cranial cavity of yours, you'd have realized that that bit about "consumers will govern companies in the market place" is antiquated 19th century BULLSHIT th

  • by Monoman (8745) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:37AM (#47636459) Homepage

    FCC should pull the rule to let supply and demand work it out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnupun (752725)

      Whoever gave the NFL monopoly rights (resulting in price gouging tickets) over all football matches in the country is at fault. So the solution is to increase supply by allowing more associations to form alternative football organizations. This competition will likely reduce ticket prices everywhere even if their playing quality won't be as good as the NFL players.

      But forcing the NFL to give their content away for free (i.e. abolishing the blackout rule) will mean fewer people will pay stadium prices and is

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:56AM (#47636641)

        But forcing the NFL to give their content away for free (i.e. abolishing the blackout rule)

        Abolishing the blackout rule will do no such thing. The FCC used to enforce a private blackout rule against the NFL (at the NFL's request). Now, the NFL is free to enforce the rule themselves. This is more freedom for the NFL, not less.

        It was spelled out in TFS, you didn't even need to read TFA.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        There is no government guaranteed monopoly. There is the arena football league. There are college leagues. There used to be the XFL (a fun league). The NFL just feels like a monopoly because the fans are very very picky.

        • by gnupun (752725)

          The NFL just feels like a monopoly because the fans are very very picky.

          But why does every pro football player have to play ticket-selling (i.e. commercial) matches under the umbrella of the NFL? ... that's pretty monopolistic. In other words, why should the NFL profit from every top-tier football player? Organizing matches is hard, but not as hard as being a good football player. If the govt. or whoever grants only one organization the power over organizing/distributing all football matches, naturally its

          • by jbolden (176878)

            But why does every pro football player have to play ticket-selling (i.e. commercial) matches under the umbrella of the NFL

            They don't. The AFL is professional. The XFL was professional. There is no government guarantee. Now what is the case

            If the govt. or whoever

            The whoever here is the customer base. The customer base wants to see top tier players and wants to see them in competition with one another. So there are are substantial network effects. These mean that with very few exceptions good play

          • But why does every pro football player have to play ticket-selling (i.e. commercial) matches under the umbrella of the NFL?

            It doesn't. The United States Football League [wikipedia.org], a new minor league of professional American football, is scheduled to kick off in 2015. Ability to start your own league [orain.org] is a big difference between football and so-called e-sports, as unlike a video game publisher, the NFL lacks legal power to shut down a competing league.

    • The FCC has no business making rulings that have sports ticket prices as a central factor.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:42AM (#47636467)

    That's the main problem you have there. At home, on the screen, you simply and plainly get the better experience. Now, I'm no expert on sports, but it doesn't take an avid watcher to notice the immediate advantage of sitting at home over going to the game.

    1. Cheap drink & snacks. No need to explain. You understand it even if you don't care about sports, you have the same deal with movies.
    2. Better view. Even if you have a front row seat right at the 50 yards sideline, you can't compete with a dozen cameras showing the game from every possible angle. You get an overview to see how the play unfolded, you get a closeup of the catch, hell, even the referees don't have that kind of luxury overview you get on TV.
    3. No hassle getting to or from the game.
    4. If the game stinks, just flip over to some movie and keep flipping back now and then to see whether it improves.
    5. And of course you can do something while watching your game on TV. Personally I can't really concentrate on watching something if it's fractured like football or, worse, baseball, where moments of action are interrupted by long times of boredom for too long without getting incredibly bored.

    So, tell me again, why the fuck should I go to the stadium, pay a fortune for a ticket where I'll then sit next to Bob who had onions for lunch, somewhere about a mile from the field where the players look like they are sprites of a badly done C64 game?

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Not only that, but perhaps if they can't fill a stadium, it's because they are asking too much for tickets. I'm not sure what NFL tickets cost, but if it's going the same way as the NHL, then they are bordering on completely unaffordable for most people. When it's minimum $200 to take your family to a game, or closer to $500 if you want some good seats where you can actually see what's going on, then it's no wonder people don't got to the stadium. The only people who go are people who decide to treat themse
      • 15 years ago it was close to $300 each for decent seats in San Francisco. The only Pro game I've seen was a pregame San Diego game at $60 a seat. At $60 a seat, it was worth it and a lot of fun. At a couple hundred, there's no reason to bother.

    • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:27AM (#47636575)

      At home, on the screen, you simply and plainly get the better experience.

      From a purely logical or intellectual viewpoint, you're absolutely correct. But watching sports isn't an intellectual exercise, and I don't mean that in a disparaging way.

      Have you ever been to a live concert? A magic show? A broadway musical or play? How about a technical conference or lecture where you listen to someone really interesting speaking? There's nothing at those events that, objectively speaking, couldn't be better delivered to your home entertainment system in the comfort and safety in your own home.

      Human beings are social creatures, and enjoy experiencing interesting and entertaining events while in the company of others. For a sports event, sharing the thrill of possible victory or defeat with thousands of other fans around you is also about sharing in a certain camaraderie. Unless you're a fan yourself and already enjoy the game, or if you really hate crowds in general, it's probably hard to understand the appeal.

      I can strike up a friendly conversation with anyone wearing my home team colors and feel pretty confident that we have something in common to talk about. When my team comes back from near-certain defeat and wins the game in overtime, I'm in my seat, shouting and cheering, and giving high-fives to other like-minded fans around me whether I know them or not. The roar of the crowd is a visceral experience, adding to the excitement and helping to create an experience that's very different than watching the game from home. It feels more like you're a bit closer to participating in the game itself, because you know your home team can hear you cheering for them - not individually, of course, but certainly collectively.

      Football season is almost here. This 12 is ready. Go Hawks!

      • No, that is not it.
        I've been on several gigs where the performer sounds better than their canned performance. Also the pyrotechnics - the blasts, the heatwaves - yet impossible to achieve the same on TV.
        Well, also the little things like when Loreena McKennitt was in Mainz, it was an open air gig and since the Frankfurt airport was in close vicinity there were airplanes regularly overflying the area, so she commented on one "this is not my flight". It was cute.
        For me, other fans are annoying. But it is still

    • by Afty0r (263037) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:49AM (#47636751) Homepage

      You are clearly one of a VERY small minority of people who prefer to NOT socialise.

      Most of the rest of us enjoy doing things in groups, it's a primal thing and appeals to our base urges, especially if we get to be all tribal about it.

      • If I wanted friends, I'd get a Facebook account...

        But in all seriousness. I'm not really comfortable in large crowds. I do enjoy a football night with a couple friends over, but that's the key here: FRIENDS. People I know and I like. That's about as social as I willingly get.

    • I know, right? I mean, why would anyone go to a concert when they can listen to the same music on their headphones, pause when they want, not have to worry if the lead singer has a sore throat, or deal with the second-hand pot smoke?Or go to the theater to see a play when it's probably been made into a movie you could torrent and watch for free?

      There are a lot of people that enjoy the live sports experience. The NFLs problem with blackouts isn't the overall product or experience. Blackouts are only a
      • by buck-yar (164658)

        Also there's people that don't like how cameramen video the event. Worst is the NBA. The camera gets caught following the ball around and its tough to see the other 9 players. Or when they zoom in on the ball at its being shot so it fills the screen, but the cameraman isn't good enough to keep it centered and it moves all over the screen.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      2. Better view. Even if you have a front row seat right at the 50 yards sideline, you can't compete with a dozen cameras showing the game from every possible angle. You get an overview to see how the play unfolded, you get a closeup of the catch, hell, even the referees don't have that kind of luxury overview you get on TV.

      A lot of people take a TV with them so they can see the replays. These days, they fit in your pocket.

      So, tell me again, why the fuck should I go to the stadium,

      Either you want to be surrounded by other excited people, or you don't.

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        Either you want to be surrounded by other drunk and obnoxious people, or you don't.

        FTFY

    • by hibiki_r (649814)

      Regular, over the air TV football is not really better for the football geeks, because camera selection is based on what is more spectacular, but misses quite a bit of action. You only get to see a wide receiver when the ball is thrown in his direction. Is he playing his best and getting beat? Is the QB just missing open receivers? Is a receiver just not trying when he is not the top option, giving away where the play is really going? Good luck getting any of that from the TV broadcast.

      There is a camera tha

  • by ebubna (765457) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:53AM (#47636495)
    NFL team wants a new stadium so they 'threaten' to leave the area unless a new one is built, so the local population is on the hook for millions in stadium construction. If we're paying for it, we should get to watch it. That means it should be broadcast OTA, not on NFL Network or ESPN. Ridiculous.
    • this and the fact that the NFL is a registered non-profit organization. if they make $9b and block the broke local fans to try and shake out more money from those who help pay for the venue then i say to hell with that
      • by tepples (727027)
        The NFL doesn't make money. The team makes money. The NFL is just an administrative association to which the teams belong.
    • by enjar (249223)

      Local team games are always broadcast OTA when they are on NFL Network or ESPN. IIRC it's a FCC rule that they have to do it.

      Of course that has little to do with the public funding of private enterprises that are wildly profitable and make millions of dollars. I enjoy watching football, but there are many better things to spend public money on. Roads, bridges, schools, universities, libraries, etc. are all for more generally useful than a stadium that stays vacant the majority of the year.

  • Wrong Organization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @05:56AM (#47636501)

    If one were to, you know, look at FCC's Rules on Sports Blackouts [fcc.gov], you'd notice that basically the only blackouts the FCC requires involving sports involve exclusive broadcast rights on broadcast TV requiring blackouts on cable/satellite (and even then:

    Sports programming that originates on broadcast television (programming that originates on cable or satellite channels or systems is not affected); and
    Cable systems with 1,000 or more subscribers, and satellite television systems with 1,000 or more subscribers within a certain zip code.

    )

    The short and long of it is that (1) the NFL has cornered the market on getting local governments to back stadium construction through loans and tax breaks and (2) cornered the market on exclusive broadcasting rights to effectively ban local broadcasts to allow ridiculous ticket prices for anyone local to actually watch the game--this latter part, btw, is likely what the local government wants anyways as it removes a lot of the plebs and grants a higher tax revenue when the tax breaks end (or are reduced).

    Going and whining to the FCC as if they're responsible entirely misses the point except in so far as the FCC may have some sort of obligation to demand that public broadcasts be used to allow local people to watch games they're effectively subsidizing in multiple ways (tax breaks for the stadium and broadcast rights for the tv stations). Yet, I think that too much of a stretch, personally, given that it's quite clear that the FCC's job is not to be some sort of universal enforcer on tv broadcasters. This, like the issue with Verizon's throttling, are issues the FTC should be taken to task to deal with as clearly the real issue in both cases are ones of fair trade.

  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:58AM (#47636653)
    I might never stop laughing.
    • by gnupun (752725)
      It's a loss because what you could watch on free OTA TV would now be available only on cable.
      • This boils down to pettiness and the logic the RIAA used against piracy. Each 'freeloader' represents lost revenue. It's just as wrong here. The consumer is willing to pay 0 dollars to watch either the game in person; or ads interspersed with football (presumably they don't have cable). Clearly that's costing the NFL oodles of money.

        So, move the games to cable. The consumer doesn't get to watch the game at all, the NFL loses eyeballs for those ads they would have been showing to other 'freeloaders', an

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:11AM (#47636675) Homepage

    If I don't get the games on terms I want, then I'll go do something else, watch movies on Netflix or play video games and your advertisers can go pound sand. What a bunch of arrogant, self-entitled bastards. Fuck you and the corporate jet you rode into town on.

  • by ruir (2709173) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:26AM (#47636705) Homepage
    Boycott them. But them when we are talking about religion and sports people tend to be irracional about it.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:56AM (#47636763) Journal
    NFL is a non-profit organization. It does not make any profit. What you call 9 billion dollar profit, might look like profit, walk like profit, bark like profit, smell like profit, bite like profit. But it is NOT profit. IRS will not get a dime.

    America has been consistently electing politicians who promise to cut taxes. And they have been dutifully cutting the taxes for the richest people (and corporations which are people). But corporations are special citizens who can claim a non-profit status and exempt themselves from taxation. It is very expensive to create a new people-citizen. But corporate citizen is just a 25$ filing fee, no nine month waiting period, no active cooperation between two different people required. Corporation-people don't go to jail. They can be killed when it is suitable without any penalty. But corporation-people can be enslaved by other corporation-people and people-people. Corporation-people can have religious beliefs when it is profitable to have them. But they don't have religious responsibilities .

    Don't blame the politicians. Blame ourselves, collectively.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by radicimo (33693)

      Don't blame the politicians. Blame ourselves, collectively.

      Yes, blame the politicians. To paraphrase Pogo, I have met the politician and he is us.

      NFL is a non-profit organization. It does not make any profit. What you call 9 billion dollar profit, might look like profit, walk like profit, bark like profit, smell like profit, bite like profit. But it is NOT profit.

      Damn straight Skippy!

      http://www.sportsonearth.com/a... [sportsonearth.com]

      That's the heart of the problem. Fsck the brain-dramaged NFL oligarchy. We the public have given them too much, and the real question is can we revoke what has been given? Do the lawyers and politicians really speak for the public good. Do they represent us (or at least some craven manifestation of our collective unconscious?)

      There is a subtle shift in power taking pla

    • NFL is a non-profit organization. It does not make any profit. [...] IRS will not get a dime.

      As I understand it, the NFL's not-profit goes straight back to the teams. The IRS sees the NFL's not-profit when each team pays income tax on its own profit.

  • Lao Tzu, who seems to have a line for every human inanity compressed into his 81 little poems, said (in my translation [briandonohue.org]):

    "There is no greater disaster, no blinder ignorance
    than not knowing when you have enough."

  • Why is the NFL permitted to operate as non-profit when it controls so much of the experience and generates so much revenue?

    That alone should get this rule changed.

    And as others have pointed out, tax payers build the stadiums for these teams, so we should be able to watch them.

    BTW - I am not a sports fan. I watch the super bowl only, and even then, I channel surf.

    Who cares about this stuff anyway?

    • by Trepidity (597)

      It's a special case written into nonprofit law by Congress specifically for the NFL (not even sports leagues in general). The more familiar nonprofit status, 501(c)(3) charities, include amateur sports leagues but not professional sports leagues. But then there's 501(c)(6) status, which is basically a grab-bag of industry/trade organizations that would probably not otherwise qualify as nonprofit, but are given that status anyway:

      (6) Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade

      • If sport exhibition is a business, then I can't see why leagues in other sports wouldn't be be considered "business leagues", so long as all the "profit" goes back to the teams and is declared on the teams' respective tax returns.
  • "result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare."

    Welfare is the provision of a minimal level of well-being and social support for all citizens. This sounds like they're threatening our lowest basic levels of well-being.

    Sounds like the NFL needs to be classified as a terrorist organization.

  • ... as such it does not have to pay taxes on its revenue. Plus local and/or state governments usually fund the stadiums the NFL uses.

    .
    Then there is the entire health problem with all the head injuries.

    It really makes me wonder why the NFL is so pervasive in our society.

  • by speedlaw (878924) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:14AM (#47637369) Homepage
    When my cableco hit me for a $5 per month "sports programming fee", or $60.00 per year, my response was to snip the cable cord-don't miss cable, with endless reality and infomercials, at all. Sports is the only thing they really have left, isn't it ?
    • Sports is the only thing they really have left, isn't it ?

      That and live political talk shows, such as MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, depending on which way you lean. And a lot of channels' web sites offer streaming but require viewers to log in with a name and password issued by a participating cable or satellite TV provider.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:54AM (#47637491)

    I live in the SanFrancisco area, home to two teams (niners and raiders)... and the blackout rules are killing me...

    *There's two primary time slots on Sundays when the majority of teams play (not including the Sunday night game).
    *The NFL will never schedule both teams to play at the same time.
    *If the game isn't sold out, it's not televised.
    *The NFL will not allow another game to be shown on TV if a local game is blacked out.

    If I lived in Nebraska, I would have the option of watching four games (2 early games and 2 later games). However, I've had more than enough Sunday's whereby both the niners and the raiders didn't sell enough tickets and thus BOTH slots were blacked out.

    I'm not going to watch a game at the Oakland Colesium and having visited the new Levis Stadium, I won't be going there either (transportation is a disaster). They'd get my advertising dollars by watching them on TV tho.

  • So the consumers love their team so much they always want to watch the team play. They just don't want to pay for tickets or pay for the TV channel to watch.
    Maybe it is time for the major league sports teams to just give in and make watching their games completely free and supported by advertising. I mean we're pretty far along already. Adverts on the screen all the time, swooshing adverts on the screen intermittently, adverts between plays, commercials, logos all over the field, etc.
    Let's just for for the

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