Monday, November 23, 2009

NFL TV Blackout Policy A Sham And A Shame For Lions And Their Fans

Maybe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can argue the big picture merits of the league's television blackout policy, but this much is obvious: It doesn't work in 2009 Detroit.
Sunday, the Lions experienced what should have been a marketing gold mine. Matthew Stafford, their rookie quarterback, was brilliant in a 38-37 victory over the Cleveland Browns. It wasn't just his considerable statistics, but rather the way he pulled himself off the turf after being slammed to it by a 300-pound lineman - and then delivered the win with an injured shoulder.
It was the type of performance Lions' fans have been thirsting for from their quarterback for decades. It was the type of thing that always seems to happen to the Lions, not for them.
Yet, nobody saw it. No television because of the blackout. There were maybe 30,000 Lions fans at Ford Field. The rest were from Cleveland. We're talking about a Metro area of more than 3.5 million people - and less than 1 percent of them actually witnessed the thrilling comeback by Stafford and the Lions.
Hearing about it, reading about it, seeing the highlights on newscasts couldn't possibly do justice to the drama that unfolded at Ford Field Sunday. You had to actually watch it for anywhere near the full impact.
You can't tell me in the long run that doesn't hurt ticket sales. You can't tell me that doesn't impact, negatively, the selling of Lions' marketing garb.
This isn't Gary Bettman we're dealing with here. Goodell clearly has a clue. So far he has been a very good commissioner. Just don't understand why he hasn't figured out the NFL's blackout policy is hurting this franchise far more than helping it.
The economics are bad. The team worse than the economy. The Lions win two home games this season, providing the type of melodrama that separates the NFL from other leagues each time. Essentially nobody sees those victories.
The only time 99 percent of the Lions fans see their team play is when they are getting clocked by two, three or four touchdowns at Minnesota, Chicago, Green Bay or New Orleans - or similarly at home when a powerful teams comes in and Ford Field sells out.
How does it makes sense to only have the public see your worst and not your best?
It's like a hamburger joint handing the burned patties and leaving the properly cooked ones in the back.
Makes no sense at all.

Random Thoughts

- Having Bill Martin say Rich Rodriguez "absolutely" will coach Michigan's football team next season doesn't mean it will turn out that way. Don't be surprised if Michigan makes a run at a new athletic director sooner instead of later - and a new football coach arrives shortly afterward as part of the package. The scene Saturday, with all those Buckeyes taking over the Big House, isn't sitting well. Nor should it

- Michigan State's season has to be classified as a step back. Who did the Spartans beat? Michigan? What does that mean these days? Bottom line: They were a mediocre team in a subpar BCS conference. The Spartans didn't take advantage of not having Ohio State on the schedule. They lost to Central Michigan. And Mark Dantonio might have let the big one get away when quarterback Nick Foles transferred to Arizona.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press about the Lions-Browns game:



Anonymous John said...


What's the back story on Foles and his time at State. It seems odd for State to get a Texas kid in the first place. Did he only last one season because Nichol decided to transfer back home? I mean he had to think he would have a great chance to start when Hoyer graduated.

5:18 PM 
Anonymous Deano said...

What has college football become when MSU and Minnesota are going to bowls? They both are sub-.500 against Division I opponents and Minnesota was 3-5 in its league. With 34 bowls and approximately 115 FBS teams, college football is approaching the NHL of 16 playoff teams out of 21 that existed in the 80's.

5:53 PM 
Blogger Marvin Boless said...

I hate the NFL blackout rule. My cousin in Iraq got to see the game, but i didn't. Makes no sense. Your blogs are great. Love the burger metaphor at the end.

6:03 PM 
Blogger Frank said...

Not only that Pat-there is no local newspaper delivery. No Monday paper. I am so cynical right now I can't even call into your excellent show. I can only drink. Thanks for being one of the only sports dudes left I can rely on.

8:47 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Yup Book, the blackout does stink. Listening to the last drive on the radio I would have killed to have found the game on TV, but as my Dad used to say ... "Dem's da rules".

Maybe this game actually hurt the Lions. Maybe they got a cold slap in the face knowing something good happened and few saw it. Maybe the result will be a revamped defense with a secondary that can stop the slant pass between the short and long backs - or an offensive line that can hold off the rush long enough for Stafford to check all his recievers and not rush a throw on a glance.

Maybe, but it is a truth that it's darkest before the dawn - but just how dark does dark have to be for the Lions?

Rules are rules, and you can't just turn them off because they're inconvenient.

Sometimes the only rules that work are the ones where the innocent suffer for the few that are guilty of neglect.

10:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blackout rule stinks. The NFL has taken its fans for granted.

11:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I didn't read ONE thing by you when the Lions were blacked out and getting killed. The blackout rule has been around forever, everyone knows it, and it has really only effected the Lions the last couple of years... after fans got tired of the terrible product.

This past game by the Lions was an anomaly, in that it turned out to be such a good game. Can't bitch about this fluke game being blacked out when the crap losses were blacked out and you said nothing.

You can say it hurts ticket sales, but it didn't for the last several years when we were constantly sold out.

Bottom line... put a better product out there and the fans will come. Then the fans beyond the 40,000 at Ford Field will then be able to watch on TV.

1:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marvin Boles,
Appreciate the compliment but will have no bearing on your grade LOL.

12:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Couldn't agree more. That .500 mark should count only against Division I opposition.

12:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It was a big deal when John L. Smith got Foles - and they did like him. But the very moment Nichol transferred in, he transferred out. He was the backup at Arizona to start the season. Got job because of injury and most of it.

12:41 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
The league has to understand that hurt the Lions more than anybody else. I mean, their fans only get to see them drilled.

12:45 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Thanks for the compliment. We understand that have tried to give our readers the best Lions coverage possible.

12:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Agree. And agree.

12:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

True, but that still doesn't take care of the people - the fans - who can't go to the game for any number of reasons, and want to see it, regardless how good or bad the Lions may be.

12:49 PM 
Blogger William said...

I agree that the blackout rule is stupid and hurts the fans, but I couldn't care any less about the Lions marketing losses. If it were up to me WCF wouldn't get a cut of any TV or merchandising money because he obviously isn't making the effort to put a competitive product on the field. Definitely get rid of the blackouts, but if an organization isn't even trying to be competitive, then cut them out of their share of the league pie, until the team changes ownership or they get better results on the field.

1:25 PM 

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