NFL Playoffs: Blackouts in as many as 3 games

There could be a rare non sell out Sunday in Green Bay leading to a local black out.
There could be a rare non sell out Sunday in Green Bay leading to a local black out.

As of this morning only the Philadelphia Eagles home game against the New Orleans Saints set for Saturday night is a sell out. As the NFL Playoffs get underway on Saturday the home fans in as many as three cities could be faced with the chance of television back-outs due to a lack of sell outs.

The first round of the NFL playoffs begins Saturday afternoon and, as of Thursday morning, only one of the weekend’s four games is a sellout. No sellout means the sobering prospect of TV blackouts in the teams’ local markets.

Buccaneers fans know all to well that a game must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff, although the league typically extends the deadline by as much as 14 hours if need be. Playoff black outs are something that makes the NFL look bad and there has not been one since Jan. 10, 2002 wild-card game between the Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in Miami.

At this moment  Green Bay, Cincinnati and Indianapolis are not sold out. The real stunning news is that the Packers have over 7,500 tickets left to be sold by this afternoon for their Sunday afternoon game with the 49ers. Kickoff is set for about 4:40 p.m. on Sunday.

The league is considering giving Green Bay an extension because as Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette puts it, “the prospect of the Green Bay Packers not selling out a home game seems unthinkable.”

There is another more logical reason that Green Bay might get a pass and that has to do with Sunday’s weather forecast. It calls for below-zero wind-chill temperatures at game time.

Meanwhile in Cincinnati where the AFC North Champion Bengals were getting ready to host San Diego in the 1 p.m. game on Sunday there are over 8,000 tickets still to be sold and that seems unlikely to happen.

Lastly, Indianapolis, which kicks off the weekend with a 4:35 p.m. ET game Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, was given an automatic 24-hour extension because of the New Year’s Day holiday and has about 5,500 tickets left. It felt by league officals that the Colts will sell the game since they have been given a little more time.

Regardless with the quality of HDTV and the high coast of NFL Playoff tickets fans, even in Green Bay are finding it hard to put down the cash for post season football.

You may recall that last month, the Federal Communications Commission proposed doing away with blackouts in all pro sports.

According to the Washington Post….

“There is evidence that after nearly 40 years, the Sports Blackout Rule has outlived its relevance and utility,” FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn in a statement. “Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest, particularly at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games.”