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

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the why-I-always-miss-the-quidditch-matches dept.

Television 216

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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Punishes fans? (5, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 3 months ago | (#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? (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47636483)

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????

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#47636811)

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?

Re:Punishes fans? (2)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 3 months ago | (#47636841)

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.

Re:Punishes fans? (5, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47636517)

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.

Government paid for stadiums (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#47636549)

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? (5, Insightful)

dk20 (914954) | about 3 months ago | (#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? (4, Insightful)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 3 months ago | (#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? (5, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47636667)

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.

Re: Punishes fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636709)

But it has that small city feel.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 3 months ago | (#47636729)

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:Punishes fans? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636805)

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 many years after they went bankrupt after spending thousands on parties.

Professional sports is a fucking rip-off.

Re:Punishes fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636881)

Let's compare apples with apples. Toronto city has something like the population of the North Island and the Greater Toronto Area has a great many more people than NZ. In resource rich countries like Canada or countries that siphon off significant proportions of world GDP through corruption and nefarious bank schemes (UK, USA, etc.) they have plenty of money to waste on things like that.

NZ is different. NZ has rugby and bugger all else. NZ could have many great things but the agricultural heritage and proper democracy has meant that there are just too many farmers making decisions. Nowhere near enough money is spent on conservation and honestly apart from the wilderness, what does NZ have? The population is so small that intelligent, motivated young people just leave to where shit is actually happening...

So why not spend the money so at least you don't get soaked watching the Highlanders lose?

Re:Punishes fans? (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47636833)

However, if you consider the metropolitain area, it is the 14th largest metropolitain area in North America.

Re:Punishes fans? (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 3 months ago | (#47636949)

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 in North America -- it's not in any sense "small" as GGP termed it.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636673)

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? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636843)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636767)

that's not the way it works .. your taxes pay for their stadiums and infrastructures , they rake in all profits and you get screwed .. easy enough ?
nothing simpler.

Re: Punishes fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636585)

"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"."

You sound like a share holder?

Re:Punishes fans? (4, Insightful)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Punishes fans? (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636695)

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.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#47636711)

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

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636731)

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 that's charging.

-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

They want you to buy an expensive subscription. Again they are charging you for their services.

these give consumers more choice and flexibility and are things that fans *really want* and will be happy to pay for.

Probably not as much as they are paying now. The level at which a person feels a product is too expensive but still worth buying is usually pretty close to the maximum they are willing to pay. They are doing their job if they have you paying more than you want to be paying. That's maximizing revenue.

maybe "punishment" is the wrong word, "abuse" or "mistreatment" may fit better

Its none of the above. They are just charging you for their services. Same as most entertainers in a capitalist society.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#47636761)

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 the fear most regular businesses have (one of the benefits of having a monopoly -fortunately no one *needs* to see NFL games)

Re:Punishes fans? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Punishes fans? (2)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#47636957)

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

How to vote with wallet? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47637157)

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?

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636891)

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 undermined the fan base. Yet because the top .5% of fans (the breeders) like breeding and that maximized revenue... I'd say that's worse than the NFL.

Another example is boxing and women's ice skating. In both of those the judging in uniformally corrupt. The results of the "games" are modified for the purposes or raising revenues since fans like to see "their team" (by analogy) win and pay more for winning teams. Whatever problems the NFL has, it doesn't cheat.

most companies have to balance their product, consumer happiness, and price

I suspect the NFL is doing that. You seem like you are at exactly the balance point. You feel like you are paying a bit too much and feel pressured to pay more. But you don't completely walk away.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

anmre (2956771) | about 3 months ago | (#47636755)

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

Indeed. And so many of the players are either arrogant thugs or outright criminals. It's a disgusting organization from the inside-out.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#47636769)

i stopped reading ESPN during off-seasons. the only thing they have to report is "XXXX was banned for X games for XXXX reason". the reason typically being DUI, drugs, shooting people, beating women -general dumbass illegal stuff. maybe the NFL should be year-round, practice and playing seems to be the only thing that keeps players busy enough to stay out of jail.

Re:Punishes fans? (4, Interesting)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 3 months ago | (#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? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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 changed my mind, except government (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47636885)

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.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 3 months ago | (#47636929)

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.

Re:Punishes fans? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47637011)

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

Re:Punishes fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637135)

This is what competition is all about. If this "NFL" won't do things your way, start your own sports league. Try to compete while offering free TV . . .

Re: Punishes fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637215)

The NFL has grown too big for its own good. They don't even pay taxes for Christ sakes.

NFL is a business/monopoly (2)

Monoman (8745) | about 3 months ago | (#47636459)

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

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (2, Interesting)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#47636591)

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 unethical, unfair and communist.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636699)

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.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#47636785)

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 prices are going to be sky high.

The player should have a choice of various organizations with different pay structures/benefits to choose from. Similarly, ticket buyers should have a choice of various leagues that have very, very good players. If league A is charging high ticket prices, the consumer can go to league B with cheaper tickets.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47636825)

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 players make more money working for the NFL than they would with any competing league.

The player should have a choice of various organizations with different pay structures/benefits to choose from.

They do.

Similarly, ticket buyers should have a choice of various leagues that have very, very good players.

That only happens if multiple leagues are able to attract the best players. And that requires that network effects not be present.

USFL is a business, coming in 2015 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47637185)

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.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636947)

You wanna football game? Go buy a fucking football, call your friends over and play one.
 
There's no monopoly on football. It's just you ball lickers want your "pro" faggot men in tight pants to wiggle their asses in the air for our gay fantasy delights.
 
People who like football are either retards, faggots or low lifes. I'm guessing you're a faggot.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 3 months ago | (#47636613)

The FCC has no business making rulings that have sports ticket prices as a central factor.

Re:NFL is a business/monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637079)

They do have business when television broadcasts are being withheld due to ticket sales extortion.

Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#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?

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 months ago | (#47636505)

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 themselves and go to one game a year, or people who have a lot of money.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636543)

You forgot the most important part!!! After drinking 3 8$ beers who can stand to wait in line for 30 minutes to use the restroom???? OMGWTFBBQ

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636583)

$8 beers at a stadium? Holy shit that is cheap. I cannot even get soda or even water for that cheap at the stadium here. The stadium here seemingly has better restroom capacity though. Either that, or the lines are so short because no one can afford the far overpriced food and liquid.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 3 months ago | (#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!

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636629)

"But watching sports isn't an intellectual exercise"

I agree!

"and I don't mean that in a disparaging way."

OK, you lost me here...

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636721)

yes we get it, you dont enjoy large social events, many other people do. its a fun and exciting way to enjoy an event, and is also a very easy way meet people and make new friends.
enjoy your sports/concerts/events in the comfort of your mom's darkened basement

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636835)

You need to go to a sports stadium to make friends with the guy standing behind you who's pissing on your shoes because he can't be bothered moving from his seat to the toilets?

Just stay the hell away from me. There are too many worthless cocksuckers like you around.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637117)

im going to assume english isnt your first language, even a child learning to read would not have responded to what i said as stupidly as you did

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (4, Insightful)

Afty0r (263037) | about 3 months ago | (#47636751)

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.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636753)

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?

Because you're watching it in a location with a thousands of other people.

And, maybe you'll sit next to Tracey the supermodel. Or even if it is Bob, maybe Bob is actually a really nice guy who will help you out with the big problem you are having.

You really want to be a cliche of the lonely guy with a big TV and fancy speakers thinking that is life.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | about 3 months ago | (#47636799)

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 problem in small markets with perennially shitty teams Even the team with the worst attendance had 400,000 attendees at home games last year. The problem consumers have with blackouts isn't that it prevents them from seeing their local team, it's that it prevents them from seeing other out of market teams. Even though the networks broadcast two early and two late games, if your local team is playing, they have to show that and can't show the other conference games. It's twice as bad if you live in a television market with one team from each conference.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

buck-yar (164658) | about 3 months ago | (#47637145)

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.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47636839)

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.

Re:Why would anyone go willingly to the stadium? (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 3 months ago | (#47637007)

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 that shows everything through: All 22 players, all the time. But since it's very far away, it trades bring close to the action away in exchange for great Xs and Os information.

It'd be far better to have this camera, which coaches use all the time, along with a close view of the action, but the only good way of getting close to that live is to have what an offensive coordinator has: Access to the TV broadcast, while being able to watch the game live from a relatively high vantage point, instead of down at the sidelines.

NFL is boring - Only exists for the Advertisers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636473)

Why should anyone want to watch it is beyond me. There are plenty more exciting sports.

Take Kabbadi for example. WTF you might say.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabaddi

I saw plenty of it in India. Fantastic skill and you don't have to hide the players under layers of padding in case the poor babes get injured.
Sadly I'm too old to play it myself but there are plenty of videos available. Take a look and you might be surprised at how good it is.

New For Nerds, stuff that matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636477)

Why is this tripe on slashdot?

Who the fuck cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636491)

C'min, NFL is shit and why the fuck should geeks and nerds care about this tripe?

Re:Who the fuck cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636683)

did you know that it is possible for people, even geeks and nerds, to have more than one interest? some even enjoy sports, regardless of how bad you happen to be at them. some like girls, even though you probably lack the skill to even speak to one.
now that you know, you can do more with your time than reading slashdot and masturbating in the basement

Re:Who the fuck cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636747)

Masturbating in the basement is an actual useful use of time, unlike watching idiots smash into each other for 10 seconds then 5 minutes of advertising

So given you are reading Slashdot, how good are you at masturbating?

Re:Who the fuck cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636793)

i'm damn good at masturbating, i also happen to enjoy going to baseball games and sometimes meet women willing to take care of the job for me. please dont try it, we dont want an accident resulting in another one of you

We all pay either way (5, Insightful)

ebubna (765457) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:We all pay either way (2)

d0wnthe11235813 (703039) | about 3 months ago | (#47636579)

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

Re:We all pay either way (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47637213)

The NFL doesn't make money. The team makes money. The NFL is just an administrative association to which the teams belong.

Re:We all pay either way (2)

enjar (249223) | about 3 months ago | (#47636713)

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 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Similar in the UK... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636609)

All Saturday 3pm kick off (the historical standard time for games to be played) football games in the Premier League are not allowed (at all) to be shown live on ANY UK TV channel. I presume this is also to protect ticket sales at the clubs. A slight difference is that there is no live football from the Premier League on free TV at all.

People just get around this by watching an internet stream, usually from a US or Arab sports channel network, or going to an enterprising pub that shows such a stream or foreign satellite channel (very dodgy legally).

A lot of teams in the Premier League make a loss, so although the Premier League itself makes a profit, the money from ticket sales does directly affect each club. The smaller clubs rarely sell out, unless they are playing a big team.

Re:Similar in the UK... (1)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 3 months ago | (#47636689)

people watch streams? but thats impossible! according to the leagues, if the option to watch from home existed then the stadiums would be empty!

Re:Similar in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636727)

It's not an option they give, it's an illegal option that's available :)

Re:Similar in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636889)

Official option or not, NFL and Football's argument is that if people CAN watch instead of going, they'll stay at home.
This argument breaks down with the fact that people are able to see games unofficially and yet attendance has not been noticably affected (if at all)

Re:Similar in the UK... (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 3 months ago | (#47636987)

Just be thank full that Rupert Murdoch doesn't have a lock on the NFL as he does on the premiership until recently football fans had to pay the Murdoch tax to watch any premiership games

Class Warfare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636619)

I love the "despite $9 billion revenue". It's like saying "look, they're rich and so therefore must be evil!" Sort of like how politicians are always yelling about gas companies making record profits, without mentioning that government takes a huge cut out of every gallon themselves.

Re:Class Warfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636887)

Isn't $9 billion revenue just a little too much for a non-profit to be complaining about making?

"a substantial loss of consumer welfare" (4, Funny)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 3 months ago | (#47636653)

I might never stop laughing.

Re:"a substantial loss of consumer welfare" (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#47636925)

It's a loss because what you could watch on free OTA TV would now be available only on cable.

I fail to see why this is relevant... (1)

roger10-4 (3654435) | about 3 months ago | (#47636669)

I fail to see how this is relevant to the /. audience or how this matters in any meaningful way. It is professional sports after all...quite possibly one to the most useless aspects of our culture.

Re:I fail to see why this is relevant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636717)

you also forgot to mention that nfl is gay

Re:I fail to see why this is relevant... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636737)

thanks for your slashdot post, its contribution to the discussion and our culture is truly immeasurable.

Re:I fail to see why this is relevant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636779)

I fail to see how this is relevant to the /. audience or how this matters in any meaningful way. It is professional sports after all...quite possibly one to the most useless aspects of our culture.

Because /.ers are voracious consumers of media and professional sports is a large producer of media.

Also, the local sports team support club is a great way to show group affiliation. Knowledge of local sporting entities gives you a common theme to socialize since professional sports are personality based and are a natural conversation piece among people with differing technical expertise.

Re:I fail to see why this is relevant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636931)

Look, dude, you're spending a lot of time telling us how we should care that you watch sport.

We get it. You like sport. That's fine.

We don't give a fuck.

This is (or at least is supposed to be) a nerd news website, not a jock news website. Take your crude, overpaid and over-billed public-funded tribalistic war shit somewhere else. There are better things that money could be used for.

Here's a thought for the NFL (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 months ago | (#47636675)

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.

As usual when businesses fuck their customer base (2)

ruir (2709173) | about 3 months ago | (#47636705)

Boycott them. But them when we are talking about religion and sports people tend to be irracional about it.

Go to a team web site and see the ticket prices (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 3 months ago | (#47636759)

I had season tickets years ago. Our seats were in the nosebleed section and the cost was pretty high. We met some really great people and started parking in the same area every week, had a pre and post game party. Now a season ticket for the San Diego Chargers is $1100.00. Or sit in the cheap seats to watch a losing team for $50.00 or $75.00.Think end zone. Parking is $25.00. Food and beverages? What is the cost of four hot dogs or what you order and beverages at your sports place? . http://www.chargers.com/ticket... [chargers.com]

No it does not make 9 billion profit. (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47636763)

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:No it does not make 9 billion profit. (3, Interesting)

radicimo (33693) | about 3 months ago | (#47637077)

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 place within the sports world right now as evidenced by the lawsuits vs NCAA and NFL by players and former players, the ouster of Donald Sterling, and any number of other more minor incidents. Those are taking place between labor and management in the courts, and in public opinion, in as much as anyone is paying attention, which most probably do not as long as they get their sports fix on a metered dose.

Its teams do though (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47637229)

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.

2,500 year old comment (2)

nightcats (1114677) | about 3 months ago | (#47636945)

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."

The NFL is a NON-Profit Organization (2)

DrTime (838124) | about 3 months ago | (#47636965)

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?

Re:The NFL is a NON-Profit Organization (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 months ago | (#47637201)

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, or professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players), not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637043)

That will win the fans over for sure.

Not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637057)

Apparently, /. is not the place to find people that understand sports.

The blackout rules aren't for the league's benefit, but for the benefit of the team owners. They need to fill the seats. By blocking local OTA TV until the stadium is filled, they have a sure way to fill the seats. Typically, the local broadcasters buy any remaining tickets just before the start of the game because that is cheaper than losing their advertising revenue.

If you have a problem with stupid stadium deals made by your local government, you should take it up with your local government. Requiring that the owners lose revenue will just cause the next stupid deal.

Driven by revenue split? (1)

clay_buster (521703) | about 3 months ago | (#47637179)

The team/league/player revenue split is different between televised games and game tickets. I'd guess the team owners want to push to fill the stadium because of the revenue. They get game broadcast revenues either way since their game will probably broadcast outside the local area even if it isn't a sellout
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