Oakland Raiders Hack NFL Blackout Rules In Real Life By Shrinking Stadium

from the seriously? dept

I've made it no secret that I think sports leagues need to better embrace getting their product out to as many viewers as possible. Internet streaming could be a boon to growing fanbases if the leagues weren't so busy locking their own streams up and trying to shut everyone else down. And the real dingleberry on top of the crap sundae is that even if you buy one of the major sports leagues' streaming packages, you get smacked with blackout rules every time you want to watch your home team. Still, as if that weren't enough, some leagues extend blackout rules to broadcast television, setting abitrary threshholds for stadium attendance or else no TV broadcast. Can you imagine anything stupider? Particularly for the NFL, a league whose sport is flatout better experienced on television, where fans can check on their fantasy teams while they take in commercials, a wonderful revenue stream for the league and broadcast partners alike?

In the case of the NFL, the rule is that teams have to have 85% of their capacity sold by the Thursday before a game to keep the TV blackout rule from being triggered. Well, the Oakland Raiders, one team who has more trouble than most getting fans into the stands (because they’re horrible), has a plan to get around the NFL blackout rules. This amazing plan is…covering up a bunch of the seats in O.co Coliseum to reduce capacity and thereby increase the percentage of filled seats for their games.

CEO Amy Trask announced yesterday that the Raiders will be eliminating nearly 10,000 seats for next season, mostly by covering up Mount Davis with a tarp. Mount Davis is the nickname given to the tier of seats installed in a 1996 renovation, ruining the backdrop view of the Oakland hills that were a staple at A’s games. They’re steep (nearly to the point of being unsafe) and the upper reaches are comically distant from the action. And they’ve gone mostly empty, being tarped off for baseball since 2006.

For those of you who haven’t followed much in the way of sports business in the past, this is certifiably insane. That said, the insanity is on the part of the NFL, not the Raiders, who are only trying to get creative in routing around the restrictive blackout policy. They clearly understand that getting their games on TV is the best way to build their fanbase, which will result in more attendance at the stadium. The NFL, however, appears to think that nixing the broadcast a few days before the game will drive more attendance at the gates. This logic fails what I like to call “The Blackhawk Effect” (See, Mike? I can coin terms too!), where once the local blackouts of Chicago Blackhawks games was lifted, the previously unattended games were suddenly filled to capacity.

What the NFL should be encouraging teams to do is go the other direction and open up even more ways for fans to view the games, whether by attending, watching on TV, or streaming. Instead, they’re forcing their member teams like the Raiders to tarp over part of their seating capacity just to avoid arbitrary blackout restrictions. How less fan-friendly could a league get?

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Comments on “Oakland Raiders Hack NFL Blackout Rules In Real Life By Shrinking Stadium”

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Mikesttr says:

backwards NHL

In Canada, the NHL does it backwards. Sportsnet broadcasts NHL games in each region (Pacific, West, Ontario, etc) and blacks-out games when the home team is not in the viewer’s home area. So you can *only* watch your local (or near by) regional team. This makes even less sense than the NFL blackouts.

I don’t understand how blocking viewers from regions outside the home team’s region benefits the NHL. They certainly are not going to buy tickets to the game, so they are losing out on a lot of advertising revenue by not showing those games.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: backwards NHL

because once upon a time it wasn’t cheap and easy to arrange these broadcasts across such distances.
They made a rule, and despite the times changing they stick with the rule.
One also has to wonder if the blackout rule was meant to bolster some idiotic agreement with the tv stations.
If people don’t see the stands at a certain capacity no one will bother to watch… it would not be the first time a corporation has made assumptions that don’t hold up in reality. But we always did this so lets keep going.

Shadowed says:

I experienced this over the weekend

Being a hotel manager in Boston during the storm, meant being stuck at the hotel for 2 days. On Sunday the Celtics played the Denver and was only being broadcasted on Comcast sports net. As is typical with hotels, we have a limited channel lineup and CSN is not one of them. At home I pay for Comcast, so I fire up their streaming app but apparently $170 a month is not enough for me to stream the game.

So they turned me into what they hate most: a vile pirate. A quick search on my phone had me at a site dedicated to streaming sports broadcasts, and in a few moments and with an HDMI connection from the phone to the TV and we had a hotel room full of employees watching the game in amazing quality and with no commercial revenue being made by the major corps.

Anonymous Coward says:


Just head to your nearest TVIP address and be happy.

Note: No it won’t help the Oakland Raiders get more fans, it will whoever help fans find some sport that they actually can watch even if you want to watch Sports from Canadian TV.

– CDC Sports (Canadian channel)

Wouldn’t be funny if Americans started to go elsewhere to find joy in sports?

Boys you can even watch Brazilian feminine volleyball on the beach all year long, girls you can watch the male one 🙂

The NFL can have their “blackout” zones, people can go find lightout in other places.

Pete Austin says:

Why not Cut Prices?

Many other businesses sell unwanted capacity at steep discounts, because the marginal costs are low and they make money when extra customers buy food and drink. To avoid harming full-price sales, the very cheap offers are usually restricted in some way, for example using “standby” tickets which don’t 100% guarantee a seat. Why can’t the Raiders figure out a way to do this?

The Real Michael says:

Football has become just another corporate-infested sport. It’s no longer about the game and the teams, it’s about the stats, the refs, the controversy, the commercials and a few key players. Certain teams such as the Bears and Lions may as well not even exist considering how little coverage they receive. For awhile all you heard about was Brett Favre until he finally retired. Now it’s become the Tom Brady show. They cannot shut up about the frigging Patriots.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

not politics, but sports are the last bastion of the scoundrel...

well, okay, politics too…

pretty sure Big Media is effectively bribing the various sports leagues to stay in the fold, because they know that a LARGE percentage of us who have not cut the cord yet, ONLY because of the non-availability of *most* (mainstream) sports outside of the cable/satellite ‘walled garden’…

IF i could get the few sports/teams i still watch online (can get some!), i would dump our satellite faster than usain bolt…

(do ANY of these media pigs realize the HUGE groundswell of ‘bad will’ THEY have generated all this time, such that NO ONE ‘wants to’ do bidness with them, we are simply FORCED to do bidness with their effective monopoly ? ? ?)

somewhat like the other sports fans whose ardor has cooled, i am much the same way, BUT there are some teams i still follow…

needs me my tribe-substitute, now don’t i…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

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