This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

NFL Causing Its Own Blackouts:Today's Outrage

Stocks in this article: DTV VZ CMCSA T

TAMPA, Fla. ( TheStreet) -- In Tampa, where the Buccaneers have had all of the home games blacked out since the NFL season began, "outrage" is an understatement.

NFL rules dictate that games are to be blacked out in the home television market if a game doesn't sell out within 72 hours of kickoff. This has happened twice in Tampa this season and has also led to blackouts of San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders games this season, putting the league on pace to break its five-year high of 22 blackouts in the 2009 season. Going into Week 4, the St. Louis Rams -- who needed a 24-hour extension from the league to sell out Edward Jones Stadium last week -- were seeking their second extension of the season while the Chargers and Raiders blacked out their second home games of the year. This comes as Indianapolis Colts General Manager Bill Polian announced this week that he believes the regular-season schedule's expansion from 16 to 18 games is a "fait accompli." He may want to check in with the teams who can't sell out the existing eight home games, never mind nine.

Why does the NFL's attendance continue to drop (down from 17.3 million in 2008 to 16.7 million last season) while its TV ratings rise (up 15% last season)? Sports pundits blame poorly performing teams, the NFL blames the markets, the fans blame fickle followers, economic instability and myriad viewing options. All of the blame, however, rests with the NFL and its almost suicidal approach to shoring up its revenue stream.

The NFL isn't hurting for money, with a list of official sponsors that includes Visa (V), Motorola (MOT), FedEx (FDX), Molson Coors (MOT), Pepsi (PEP), IBM (IBM), Verizon (VZ), Barclays (BCS) and Procter & Gamble (PG) -- who factor blackouts into their contracts with the league. The NFL's teams also seem flush as ever, with Team Marketing Report reporting a 4.5% hike in the NFL's average ticket price this year to $76.47 as 18 teams raised the cost of attending a game in 2010. The average cost for a family of four to attend a game this year eclipses $420, or $95 more than the average cost of DirecTV's all-inclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package.

Ticket prices aren't the lone scapegoat, as teams in blacked out markets this year have either maintained last season's ticket prices (Oakland and San Diego) or actually lowered them (-2.9% in Tampa). Performance and visiting teams haven't been an issue either, as San Diego had made the playoffs four years straight heading into this season and the Bucs were 2-0 going into their second blacked-out game against the popular, 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. If St. Louis is blacked out this week, it will be in spite of a 6.3% cut in ticket costs -- the second steepest in the league after the Atlanta Falcons' 8.1% discount.

So why did O'Brien's Irish Pub in Tampa risk an NFL investigation by tapping into a live internet video feed of the Bucs-Steelers game last Sunday? Why are Tampa fans paying $25 to tour companies to take them on a bus ride out of the 75-mile blackout radius? Part of the explanation is the economy, which has hit both Florida and California especially hard. California's unemployment was 12.4% last month, well above the 9.6% national average. In the NFL's blacked out cities, Oakland is dealing with a nearly 20% jobless rate while San Diego copes with 10.6% unemployment.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs