Fewer TV comedies play to live in-studio audiences these days. Should we expect the same from our local NFL teams?
With the U.S. economy in a fragile state of disarray, the NFL is bracing for more TV blackouts, especially considering the high ticket prices for games.
When a home NFL team doesn't sell out all its stadium seats, the NFL forces a local television blackout, which, in theory, forces fans to attend the game to see what's happening.
Last year 22 games -- 8.5% of all NFL games played -- were blacked out, in Jacksonville, Fla.; Detroit; Kansas City' Oakland, Calif.; and St. Louis. This year three other teams could be added: the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, and San Diego Chargers.
With this tactic, the NFL seemed to say that despite whatever economic and financial issues are hurting consumers, certain markets won't get a pass -- so to speak.
The TV blackouts seem to prevent negative marketing/promotional buzz. After all, who wants to see a half-empty stadium? Doesn't feel very exciting, does it?
But considering the financial and rating strength of the NFL, the pre-eminent TV sports franchise, maybe the league should reconsider.
It should take a note from TV comedy producers who have switched to single-camera comedies, such as "30 Rock" and "The Office," as opposed to those three-camera in-studio shows such as "Big Bang Theory." Good comedies don't need in-studio laughs; good football should be the same.
We can laugh at some bad NFL teams in the comfort of our own homes. NFL games don't always need a full house. Major League Baseball games don't always have one, and neither do National Association Basketball games.
A TV blackout seems to throw a blanket on those teams that might be playing good football on that particular day -- almost as if the game hasn't happened.
But look at the results of a year ago: The Jacksonville Jaguars (seven blackouts, seven wins); Detroit Lions (four blackouts, two wins); Kansas City Chiefs (one blackout, four wins); Oakland Raiders (seven blackouts, five wins); St. Louis Rams (three blackouts, one win). That's not a bad record.
Broadcasting those games would seem to make for some better NFL marketing -- where some big underdogs can win.