Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Time to end the NFL’s blackouts?


A bar in Tampa, Florida is facing possible action from the NFL after reports that it broke the league imposed television ‘blackout’ for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers by broadcasting an internet feed of the match on screens.

The case highlights the increasingly antiquated blackout regulations which have been in place since 1973. The rules ensure that a home game will not be televised locally if it is not sold out 72 hours before kick-off.

It is a rule that could affect a number of clubs this season as fans find it hard to stump up for tickets and parking — USA today recently reported that as many as 11 clubs could be hit by the regulation this season.

As an outsider I have always found this rule a little odd, partly because I have sat in stadiums with plenty of empty seats but where the match has been televised due to being ‘officially’ sold out. The difference between an actual sell out and an “official sell out” is that in the latter version – television companies agree to buy up the unsold tickets to make sure that they can broadcast the game.

No Woods, no problem … but for how long?

Tiger Woods hacked and shanked his way to a two-round score of five over par at this year’s British Open, missing just the fifth cut of his professional career and only his second in a major championship.

Facing a Tigewatsonclubr-less weekend must have had television executives and sponsors sweating. The 2008 British Open, which Woods missed recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, saw TV ratings of the final round on ABC plummet 13.3 percent from the previous year.