By The TV Answer Man team
TV Answer Man, I just read your article about local broadcasts being blacked out on the NFL Sunday Ticket. Can you explain why? The Ticket is so expensive, it should give you every game regardless of who’s carrying it. What’s your take? — Todd, Cleveland.
Todd, the NFL Sunday Ticket is a game-changer for football enthusiasts, providing access to a plethora of live games and exciting matchups plus the NFL RedZone channel if you purchase the Ticket bundle. However, while it offers extensive coverage, there’s a notable absence: local broadcasts. Even though the Ticket’s price starts at $349 and ascends all the way up to $489, you can only watch the NFL games that are not airing on your local Fox and CBS affiliates on Sunday afternoons.
TV Rights and Agreements
The primary reason local broadcasts are unavailable on NFL Sunday Ticket boils down to complex broadcasting rights and agreements. The local games are aired by local television stations, which are owned by the networks or broadcasting companies such as Sinclair, Nexstar, Hearst, Scripps and many others. The networks invest significantly in obtaining exclusive rights to broadcast games within specific geographical regions. And the non-network companies such as Sinclair, etc. pay heavily to the networks for the rights to air those games (and other programming) on the local affiliates. If the games were available on the Ticket, fewer people would watch them on the local affiliates which would hurt their ratings and advertising potential. Consequently, the NFL Sunday Ticket cannot infringe upon these agreements, restricting access to local games for subscribers.
Preserving Fan Base and Local Support
Local broadcasts also play a pivotal role in nurturing and preserving a team’s fan base. Many local affiliates offer in-depth coverage, pre-game shows, and post-game analysis tailored to the interests of the local community. Allowing these broadcasts to be accessible nationwide could dilute the unique local flavor and support that is vital for a team’s identity. By keeping local broadcasts exclusive to specific regions, the NFL maintains the authenticity and loyalty of local fan bases.
Bottom line: It’s all about money, Todd. The league balances the money it gets from the networks against the proceeds from the sale of the NFL Sunday Ticket (now to Google, previously to DIRECTV). If it believed it could generate significantly more revenue from the latter by offering local games on the Ticket, it might consider it in future contract talks with the networks. But for now, the league has decided this is the best method to generate the most revenue from both sources.
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