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Fumbled Broadcasting
January 9, 2013 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Which TV markets are condemned to watch the worst American football teams play? SLDeadspin
posted by Renoroc (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought the best team in the world was the one with the home field closest to where you lived- no matter where the players or owners come from, how skilled they are, or anything like that.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:18 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Raiders, baby!
posted by Chuffy at 5:20 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, it seems that the article actually doesn't necessarily buy that- but in terms of the 'fans' I see 'rooting', it seems to follow geography.

I was invited to a birthday party once which (I didn't know) was a Super Bowl birthday party. "We're winning" I was told. Who's 'we'?

(Obligatory Mitchell and Webb sketch!)
posted by dunkadunc at 5:23 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not hard to pick out 2012's crappy teams: 10 finished with double-digit losses, and these same 10 had the league's lowest point differentials.

But I thought the NFL was striving for parity?

It's mildly interesting that the support of teams so clearly follows geography, despite expansion and teams moving (though the Raiders do seem to retain support in LA and I know it remains a sore point in Baltimore). This supports my theory that the NFL is the 'product' not the teams (else they wouldn't desire parity so strongly).
posted by hoyland at 5:29 PM on January 9, 2013


I thought the best team in the world was the one with the home field closest to where you lived- no matter where the players or owners come from, how skilled they are, or anything like that.

Either the best or the worst.
posted by empath at 5:32 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This supports my theory that the NFL is the 'product' not the teams (else they wouldn't desire parity so strongly).

In essence, yes. Last week's Planet Money is technically about basketball, but talks a lot about why drafts and salary caps are (generally speaking) good for even the elite players. One of the main reasons for that is that parity makes people in smaller markets more willing to watch and otherwise support their teams.
posted by Etrigan at 5:35 PM on January 9, 2013


Anything that pretends that the NFL started in September 2012 is not going to be all that insightful. What would have been interesting would be a look at teams that have been bad over a period of time, like the Jaguars who haven't had a winning season since 2007, or the Bills who haven't seen the playoffs this millennium, or the crappy replacement Browns who have only been to the playoffs once since the original Browns went to Baltimore. An article bitching about people having to watch the Jets (in the AFC championship game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons) and the Eagles (10-6 and in the playoffs 2 years ago) is just kinda dumb.

But if Erie really is full of Steelers fans who have to watch the Bills and Browns, that does suck for them.
posted by graymouser at 5:41 PM on January 9, 2013


They mention it briefly in the footnote to the article, and it is too late to make much of a difference for this year, but if you are a transplanted football fan like myself, the506.com is a real godsend. It maps out exactly which games you will see on a given weekend, usually on Tuesday, so if your team is not going to be broadcast in your area, you can make plans ahead of time to find somewhere to watch the game (like a sports bar or the house of a friend with Sunday Ticket). Bookmark it for next year, folks.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:42 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


> But if Erie really is full of Steelers fans who have to watch the Bills and Browns, that does suck for them.

Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's hard-core Steelers country there, except the television doesn't seem to know this.
posted by ardgedee at 5:49 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Central PA, and watched the Steelers. Then I moved to NE PA and I thought I was going to be doomed to watch the Giants or the Eagles, but oddly WYOU carries Pittsburgh games all season. Except when for some reason they play on Fox on the early game. I have friends in the Ephrata area that used to have two CBS channels on the cable, a Philly station and WYOU. Then the WYOU was removed because Philly claimed exclusivity. As such they can't watch the Steelers legally. Seems bonkers to me.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:51 PM on January 9, 2013


Granted, I haven't lived in Northern Michigan in quite some time, but since when did the Northwestern Lower Peninsula become a part of the Packers TV market? I know the Western U.P. has always been Packers country (the daily newspapers are local and from Green Bay and Milwaukee), but as far as I know, the Lions still rule the entire Lower Peninsula.
posted by NoMich at 6:01 PM on January 9, 2013


Luckily, I live in an area where the nearest NFL team is over 300 miles away.
So I get to root for whoever I'd like.

Usually the underdog, 'cause who doesn't like an underdog?
posted by madajb at 6:17 PM on January 9, 2013


Out here in Hawaii, people tend to be fans of Seattle or San Francisco, which aren't really closer than the L.A. teams, but I suppose the ocean makes all teams equidistant for us.

We usually get to watch WHAT THE FUCK EVER, which is awesome.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a Cowboys fan who hates the 49ers and has pity for all Raiders fans, it's right here where I live: Northern California.
posted by Big_B at 6:33 PM on January 9, 2013


I had to check to see where the Chargers were ranked. Decidedly pleased with the result.

Secondly, the Wikipedia article on NFL television markets is AMAZING. Seriously, go read it.
posted by librarylis at 6:35 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Out here in Hawaii, people tend to be fans of Seattle or San Francisco, which aren't really closer than the L.A. teams, but I suppose the ocean makes all teams equidistant for us.

Which L.A. teams? USC and UCLA?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:58 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm in Tucson. Which means I get stuck with the Cardinals. It's pretty painful.
posted by azpenguin at 7:15 PM on January 9, 2013


Sure, but you could be in Yuma, which probably gets the Chargers and the Cards.
posted by LionIndex at 7:30 PM on January 9, 2013


is that a voronoi diagram?
posted by Wemmick at 7:42 PM on January 9, 2013


Secondly, the Wikipedia article on NFL television markets is AMAZING. Seriously, go read it.

Holy crap.
posted by downing street memo at 8:09 PM on January 9, 2013


Heh. I moved to the Bay area in 2006, and since there are two local teams and they both sucked until the niners got their act together a few years ago I didn't even bother with Sunday football.
posted by MillMan at 8:33 PM on January 9, 2013


And on the seventh day God watched the RedZone channel.
posted by nave at 8:57 PM on January 9, 2013


when did the Northwestern Lower Peninsula become a part of the Packers TV market

Those aren't actual TV markets -- they're as-the-crow-flies borders between nearest NFL cities. Meant as a starting point for figuring out who wants what, I guess. I'd be pretty surprised if, say, the Traverse City Fox affiliate ran Packers games over Lions games. Certainly the NFL's census map bears out that the entire lower peninsula (and the eastern half of the U.P.) is Lions territory. Well, that and the purple dot on Houghton where a bunch of people have come up to Michigan Tech.
posted by aaronetc at 10:05 PM on January 9, 2013


Which L.A. teams? USC and UCLA?

I am thinking of multiple-sports - the Mariners and the Giants have more fans out here than the Dodgers and the Angels (or the A's, which doesn't make a lot of sense). When the Rams and Raiders were still in L.A., they weren't especially well-loved here.

There are Lakers fans, but the Sonics and even the Trailblazers are better loved. No idea why Hawaii seems to have a slight anti-L.A. bias.

Anyhow, should have been more specific. Sorry for the confusion!
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:03 AM on January 10, 2013


so if your team is not going to be broadcast in your area, you can make plans ahead of time to find somewhere to watch the game

And, god, they do they're darndest to make it hard. Back when I was a kid, there were two NFC and two AFC games on Sunday (early, late), a game on Monday Night, and two games on Thanksgiving Day (one with the Cowboys, one with the Lions.)

Now? There are *five* networks with contracts -- NBC, ESPN/ABC, Fox, CBS and The NFL Network. In general...

NFL Network -- Shows a Thursday game every week.
CBS -- shows AFC games on Sunday (defined by the road team)
Fox -- shows NFC games on Sunday (ditto)
ESPN/ABC -- shows a Monday night game.
NBC -- shows a Sunday night game.

During weeks 1-16, Fox and CBS split three games, with each showing two games 8 weeks, and one game the other eight. If your showing one, which one you show depends, so you get the pregame show at Noon ET, and if it's a singleton afternoon game, you get three hours of Something Not Football, then the game. This is why late games start at 4:05 or 4:25, to provide a window for an intro. The early games start at 1:01PM ET, allowing enough time for titles.

CBS always wants to finish before 7PM, to protect 60 Minutes. Both CBS and Fox have to end game coverage by 7:30PM to allow NBC to pick up coverage of the Sunday Night game.

On week 17, the last week, both CBS and Fox show two games.

Now, the complications! CBS always shows a single game the first week of the season, because they're covering the US Open (Tennis) in the Afternoon. Fox always gets a doubleheader on the weekend of the World Series, since Game 4 is Sunday evening, which they show, they basically use it as a super-sports weekend.

On Thanksgiving, Detroit and Dallas still play, one one Fox, one on CBS. Since the road team determines market, this means one of them has to play an AFC team for the CBS game. There's now a third Thanksgiving game, on the NFL network.

In the last seven weeks, there's Flex Scheduling, where an afternoon game gets promoted to Sunday Night (and to NBC.) Because these are always games with playoff implications, they're a cherry pick for NBC. In exchange, Fox and NBC each get to protect five games from the flex.

Finally, Christmastime Was Here. No games are played after 8PM on Christmas Eve or Christmas. If such happens, that game is moved to Saturday Night. This year, the Monday Night Game would have been on Christmas Eve, so it was moved to Saturday Night.

Locally, there are blackouts. If the home team doesn't sell out, that game won't be shown on TV in the Primary markets for that team. In exchange, there the cable white-in rule. If a local team's game is shown on cable only (read, Thursday/Monday games) then a local broadcaster buys the rebroadcast rights and shows the game over the air in the primary market (mod blackouts.)

There's also the No Opposing Game rule. If you're home team is broadcast in the early slot, the other broadcaster won't show a game. So, if you're playing an NFC team, and it's a Fox Single Game weekend, you lose a game, because the local CBS affiliate won't show the game that would be on opposite the home game.

That's the highlights. There's more. MUCH more. I suggest Wikipeida's excellent NFL on television page for all of the details, if you want more, including the Guy With The Orange Sleeves and the Guy With The Green Hat who control commercial breaks, of which there are 10 per half. One at the end of the 1st/3rd, one at the two minute warning, and 8 others. When Mr. Referee says "This will be a 30 second timeout", you won't see another commercial that half.

(on preview, I see librarylis beat me to the punch on the Wiki page....)
posted by eriko at 12:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah: Blackouts. They became more complicated this year. The definition of a sellout applies only to home-sold non-premium tickets. So, if there's an empty skybox, or you allocate 1500 tickets to the visiting team and they don't sell, neither counts against you.

A team can buy back unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar, which is the amount that the team has to send into the revenue sharing pool. Often, if there aren't many tickets remaining, the local broadcaster buys them to secure the broadcast, since they'll make more by showing the game.

A team can "shrink" its home stadium at the start of the season by declaring so, and not selling the tickets. Usually, they'll tarp over those seats. The good thing is it makes sellouts easier. The bad thing is that once you declare, you can't sell those seats at all that season, even if you make the playoffs. Jacksonville, which plays in the 84,000 seat EverBank Filed, tarps the stadium down to 67,000 because of the small market. (The stadium is used for the Gator Bowl at full capacity.)

This year, though, they added a flex. A team could "declare" a smaller total, from 85% up, as a sellout at the start of the season. If they reach that percentage sold, the blackout lifts, however, ever ticket sold above that threshold has a 50%, rather than 34%, revenue share attached.

Last year, 89% of the games in the NFL were sellouts.
posted by eriko at 1:13 AM on January 10, 2013


eriko's infodump is awesome. But a tiny quibble: last year, the Thanksgiving night game (Ravens/49ers, the first ever Harbaugh Bowl) was on the NFL Network as part of their Thursday Night Football series. This year, they sold it to NBC who ran it as a "Sunday Night Football" episode. (It was the Patriots/Jets game with the butt fumble, which has dominated the year's blooper reels.) Similarly when the NFL runs games on Saturday nights it calls them "Thursday Night Football" and when ESPN runs them it is as "Monday Night Football." There is no Saturday Night Football in the NFL.

Thursday Night Football is probably the most contentious part of the broadcast schedule. It was originally limited to games in November and December, but this year it was revised upward to start in week 2 of the season (as the season opener is also on a Thursday night) for a total of 13 games (not counting the final 2 weeks or the opener). To get the league to agree to the deal, they had to guarantee that every team would get a nationally televised game. Since NBC and ESPN go for higher profile games, this effectively made TNF the butt of a number of bad games and widespread derision, although things heated up towards the end of the season. ESPN gets stuck with dogs of games when franchises expected to do well, like the Eagles and the Jets this past year, have awful games but get scheduled for Monday Night marquee experiences. There is a strong complaint that the home team has too big of an advantage in Thursday Night games, and that it is not enough time for a team to recover between a Sunday game and a Thursday game. Flex scheduling means that in the late year, Sunday Night Football is almost always one of the best games of the week, frequently better than either cable game.

Someone who watches football like I do catches at least 5 games a week in the pros, and 3-4 in college. Considering other things it's very possible to watch 70 or so of the 256 NFL games played every year, and the NFL has bent over backward to make sure that a viewer can see every team that's playing. It can get to be a bit of a grind but you really get a much better feel for what's going on in the league than you could back in the '90s when I was a kid.
posted by graymouser at 4:37 AM on January 10, 2013


eriko's infodump is awesome. But a tiny quibble

In terms of marketing, yes. The Lions-Falcons game that would have been on Monday night, and Christmas Eve, was played on Saturday, but was branded as MNF. When NBC covers a game, it's banded as "Football Night in America," Sunday or no.

So, there is no Saturday Night Football - just occasional games on Saturday night.

I also missed New Years. If NYD is Monday, then the Sunday game moves to Saturday to keep New Year's Day clear for college bowl games and to follow the holiday rule. There's no MNF that week, because it's the last week of the season.

However, if NYD is Sunday, the official holiday is Monday, so the bowl games move to Monday the 2nd, and the rest of the NFL plays on Sunday, with the Sunday night game in place. At least, that's the rule through 2014. I haven't seen the newest contracts.
posted by eriko at 5:41 AM on January 10, 2013


A team can buy back unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar, which is the amount that the team has to send into the revenue sharing pool. Often, if there aren't many tickets remaining, the local broadcaster buys them to secure the broadcast, since they'll make more by showing the game.

Buy back from whom? There's some non-obvious fact I'm missing about who owns/sells the tickets. The league?
posted by hoyland at 6:13 AM on January 10, 2013


I live in Rochester, NY, which is overwhelmingly Bills country (with a small contingent of Browns fans from long ago). Unfortunately, I'm not a Bills fan. Thankfully we can almost always see the Giants (my team from when I was a kid) game on network stations so it's not so bad.
posted by tommasz at 6:33 AM on January 10, 2013


The lack of Saturday Night Football late in the season, once the college regular season has ended but when only scrub Bowl Games are being played, is mystifying.

As a Patriots fan since birth who hasn't lived in New England since 2001 (my departure apparently made all of the local teams excel) their rise to glory has been incredibly fortuitous not only for the obvious reason, but because it also means that when there's not a local game to show, the Pats often get the lions share of the neutral territory. For instance: I was living in Chicago in 2007, and by virtue of the Pats making the Super Bowl, there were actually more Pats games shown on TV in Chicago than Bears games (Bears had all 16 regular season games shown, of course, Pats had 14 regular season, plus divisional playoff game, AFC Championship, and Super Bowl, for a total of 17.) Let us not, however, discuss how that Super Bowl went. Or how last year's went.

Not nearly as full coverage this year. I wasn't paying close attention, but I'm thinking maybe only 8 or 9 of their games were available locally? That said, bars and Sunday NFL Ticket (or even RedZone, if I don't care THAT much about the game) having friends are always an option, and finding streams online is trivial.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2013


SpiffyRob: finding streams online is trivial.

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:45 AM on January 10, 2013


The lack of Saturday Night Football late in the season, once the college regular season has ended but when only scrub Bowl Games are being played, is mystifying.

The NFL is very cautious about intruding even on scrub-bowl season. There are a lot more Congresspersons with colleges in their districts than NFL teams (especially in the South), and the NFL's antitrust exemptions would be very easy to get rid of.

For that matter, there's many more with high schools in their districts, and that's part of why the NFL Network does Thursday Night Football and not Friday Night Football.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on January 10, 2013


Thursday Night Football is probably the most contentious part of the broadcast schedule.

I definitely agree with you because of the god-awful theme song performed by Cee-Lo Green.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:39 PM on January 10, 2013


Buy back from whom? There's some non-obvious fact I'm missing about who owns/sells the tickets. The league?

NFL teams contribute 34 cents on every dollar of tickets they sell for home games to the league-wide revenue sharing pool, which is divided equally amongst all the teams. Thus, a "buy back," which would normally cost a team nothing, costs them 34 cents on the dollar, which they have to pay to the revenue sharing pool since the ticket is now "sold."
posted by eriko at 8:55 PM on January 11, 2013


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