No NFL blackouts yet but Bills on the bubble


FCC BlackoutSo far so good is the word on NFL attendance thus far in 2013 in terms of home game blackouts due to poor ticket sales. But that could soon change for the Buffalo Bills, in part due to an injury to a key player.

According to online sports website SB Nation, the Bills already had a close call in a recent game with the Carolina Panthers. The team just barely beat the deadline to eclipse a 2,500 seat shortfall, allowing the game to be shown on local television.

The next two home games are both 7,500 ticket sales short, including an October 13 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals and a November 3 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

There are two other problem dates: The team is 10,000 sales short for its game with the New York Jets November 17 and its December 22 game with the Miami Dolphins.

Although the team is said to be optimistic about selling enough tickets  in time to save the local telecasts, SB Nation isn’t so sure, especially given the steeper hurdles facing the Bills on all four of the contests in question.
And the problem is compounded by a Week 5 injury to rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who is expected to be out of the lineup for a good six weeks.

Brian Higgins (D-NY), who represents the Buffalo area in the US House of Representatives, recently wrote a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn asking about the progress of the FCC’s proceeding on the blackout rule. Higgins suggested that it was no longer necessary. He wrote,“The value of the National Football League was significantly enhanced by televising games and decades old blackout rules created before the League achieved its current popularity and financial stability do not increase game attendance. Most importantly, the Sports Blackout Rule is not fair to my constituents and a public that commits substantial tax dollars subsidizing the construction and maintenance of 30 of the NFL’s 31 stadia.”

Clyburn referred the matter to the Media Bureau, which said that its review of the matter is complete. It added that it is preparing to make a recommendation of what actions, if any, the FCC should take.

Any action at all is currently dead in the water due to the government shutdown.