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?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 6:28pm

    It could be worse...

    They could have to move to LA again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Nigel (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 8:38pm

    Please try to refrain from using the term dingleberry in TD posts. lol..


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mikesttr, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:06pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    timlash (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:07pm


    The Jacksonville Jaguars have had tarps in place for the past eight seasons. They got the idea from baseball's St. Louis Cardinals:

    http://jacksonville.com/sports/football/jaguars/2012-07-08/story/jaguars-still-trying- tackle-tarps

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    T.J., Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:17pm

    Lowering ticket prices

    They did it because the economy sucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:29pm

    I just can't wait to see what happens when the football fans UAV's start hovering above stadiums trying to catch and retransmit those public events.

    It will be a wonderful mess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:30pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:35pm

    Of course if you are against ridiculous usage of trademarks, there's no reason to support the NFL in any way, shape, or form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 9:35pm

    as a life long raiders fan i have to say the following:

    put a team together that can make it past .500 and you wont have to worry about the blackout rules

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Jesse (profile), Feb 11th, 2013 @ 10:21pm


    Please try to refrain from using the name Nigel in TD comments.

    :) Jk Nigel is a fun name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Shadowed, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 10:25pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 10:33pm


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 10:40pm


    BTW, those TV streams as far as I can tell are all legal so you don't need to fear being a pirate or anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2013 @ 10:49pm

    Here are some more legal links to streaming TV databases.


    Courtesy of ZeroPaid.

    They are promoting free legal options and so am I now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Pete Austin, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 3:14am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Sigh why did the NFL have to go and Teri Buhl themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    The Real Michael, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 5:01am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Leonardo (profile), Feb 12th, 2013 @ 5:51am

    NFL stadiums subsidized by Tax Payer's Dollars

    Add insult to injury, factor in the number of NFL stadiums that have received government/municipal financing and tax breaks, then perhaps your story would be more comprehensive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 6:02am


    For years the NFL was the only thing that kept me paying a cable bill. Then I came around to the same conclusion you have. I think the writing was on the wall when all the play-by-play teams I grew up watching started retiring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Feb 12th, 2013 @ 6:35am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Re: I experienced this over the weekend

    Now start thinking about all those things you could spend $170 a month on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Jeff (profile), Feb 12th, 2013 @ 7:46am


    As a life long Lions fan... At least you have a team that could possibly, at some point in the future, when they're lucky, with the wind under their sails... NOT SUCK ASS!


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 8:37am


    What, you have a patent on use of dingleberry, or just horrible childhood memories... oh your poor dingleberries...

    JK :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    M.T. Bone, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    nice move.Me and my Humboldt Homies have been fans since before AC/DC released Back In Black.. Da Raidahs should have an Asskicking team..This past Decade has been a joke..Despite the lack of commitment, I still like to watch the Beatdowns..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    relghuar, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:12am

    Stop right there!

    You f@#$ing freeloader!! Don't you realize every person watching the game on his TV (or god forbid! watching the stream over these forsaken Internets thingy) is a lost sale?!?!?!
    Would you really like our poor sportsmen go starving?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 13th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Maybe if you tell the NFL they'll make LESS money if they stop using such blackout rules they'll drop them? Because that seems to be their focus, to make LESS money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    jetson, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    If you walked into THAT stadium with an expensive smartphone, I guarantee you ain't walking out of with it still in you're pocket.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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