Friday, September 15, 2006

Home Games shouldn't be on TV?

Unless sold out? Dwight James (via TrueHoop):
Ah, you say, television also is a form of advertising and exposes your team to new fans. That’s an argument a lot of minor-league teams use when they pay or barter to get their games on the air.

Our junior hockey team, the Winter Hawks, is going to try to play that game this year – televising home games on cable. That’s almost suicidal, in my opinion, because at the same time they’re trying to lure people into buying tickets to sit in ancient Memorial Coliseum.

I think, in today’s television world, that philosophy of local TV exposure is fool’s gold. In the old days, there were four or five local stations, no cable, and it was entirely possible that someone would accidentally bump into your games on the air and become a fan.

But no more. There already are too many options on cable and dish. I don’t think there’s much accidental viewing anymore.

You can argue with me about these conclusions, but I’d just point you toward the one league that’s still thriving in the area of TV rights fees and home attendance. That would be the NFL.

And what’s the NFL’s single, longest-running television rule? That’s right – if the game isn’t sold out, it’s not shown on local television. Period. That’s where it all starts for sports’ most successful business.

The NFL is using television, you see. The rest of the sports world is being used by television.

I see his point, but the NFL can afford to do this, while other leagues cannot. Each NFL team only has 8 home games a season while the NBA and MLB have 41 and 81 respectively. If the NFL wants to play hardball with the locals it can, because each of their games have a greater chance to sell out.

But why would the Atlanta Hawks put in a black out rule? Sure they might draw a few more fans here and there; but these games are expensive and just showing the away games may not be the best way to get new fans.

Obviously he isn't saying that other leagues should impose a full time black out rule and maybe he's right saying less home games on television could spur game attendence. But I don't think it's fair to compare the Cavs 41 home games with the Browns 8. They're too different animals.

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