NFL Network Blackout Policy

Blackout policyI tuned in to the NFL Network a few minutes before 10 Eastern to watch the preseason opener between the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers only to find the game blacked out.  Given that I don’t live in either the Dallas or San Diego media markets, I thought it was odd.

It turned out that the Washington Redskins, whose media market I do live in, were playing in the slot ahead of the Cowboys-Chargers game and, by rule, it was blacked out on the NFL Network to force fans to watch the local affiliate’s commercials.  So, I found the Redskins game and, sure enough, it was running late.  At 10, I flipped back over and NFL Network was still blacked out.  When the clock struck 0:00 on the Redskins game, I flipped back over to NFL Network and it was still blacked out.

They finally turned the game on halfway through the first quarter.  Given the nature of preseason football, that meant that I missed every play involving the starting offense.

What on earth was NFL Network thinking?  Pre-empting the best part of a game featuring the most popular team in the sport in order to show garbage time for the 5th string players in another game?  Seriously?  And then compounding the error by continuing to black out live action to cover, what, Joe Theismann blathering on about a game the viewer just saw?  Really?

This, while they’re trying to get fans to put pressure on cable stations to carry their package?   What’s the point of having the channel if they’re not actually going to show the games they carry?

UPDATE: The game coverage was pretty bad, too.   I know it’s preseason but, still, it’s mighty annoying to have inane chit chat with Ladainian Tomlinson going on in the second quarter while we’re missing live game action.   And I say that even though the Cowboys were pretty awful after the first couple of series.  Which, of course, I didn’t actually get to see.

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: Media, Sports, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Pre-empting the best part of a game featuring the most popular team in the sport

    This is the problem with Cowboys fans… they think the entire sport revolves around them. 😉

  2. Dodd says:

    Cut them some slack. They did, after all, get rid of Gumbel. And they’ve clearly demonstrated they’re only capable of getting one important thing right per year.

    Not having to listen to Gumbel anymore is worth this.

  3. anjin-san says:

    What are you bitching about? The market is at work. The market decided you don’t get to see that game. Can’t have it both ways…

  4. Dodd says:

    So? The “market” also “decided” to force Gumbel on us for two seasons. And NFLN didn’t just decide to let him go in a vacuum – they did it because we, their customers, ‘bitched’ about him. A lot.

    This is how markets work: A company makes a product and its customers provide various forms of feedback about it, leading (hopefully) to the improvement of said product. Companies that pay attention to this feedback prosper; companies that don’t, lose market share. If this concept is difficult for you, try comparing the market performance of the NFL and the NYT over the last 10-15 years. That should clear everything up.

  5. James Joyner says:

    This is the problem with Cowboys fans… they think the entire sport revolves around them. 😉

    It doesn’t? Even in really bad years, the Cowboys are a huge draw. I remember a few years back when a Cowboys-Redskins game, when both teams were awful, outdrew a baseball league championship game on at the same time.

    They should probably have scheduled more slack time between the games to prevent this from happening. But, unlike a regular season game, the best part of a preseason game is the early part. It’s been months since fans got to see their stars on the field; it doesn’t make sense to preempt that to show guys who are likely going to be gone at the first cut. At the very minimum, though, they should have immediately switched to the next game when clock struck zero.

  6. Bill H says:

    Pre-empting the best part of a game featuring the most popular team in the sport

    Oh, I thought you meant my Chargers.

    That nonsense of the “talk show” with the game as a background which is mostly ignored is a regular feature of Charger preseason. These morons do it all the time, as does ESPN during the regular season, which is why I never watch MNF since ESPN took it over. I’ll have to a couple times this year, since the Chargers are on the schedule, but…

  7. Bill H says:

    Oh yes, and my cable company doesn’t carry NFL Network. Cox is “refusing to submit to the NFL’s extortion,” referring to it’s exorbinate cost.

  8. Dodd says:

    which is why I never watch MNF since ESPN took it over

    As with Gumbel on NFLN’s games, there is an easy — and inexpensive — solution to this problem: Turn off the sound on your TV and listen to the game on Sirius NFL Radio (you can even choose which side’s homer sportscasters you want).

    I really enjoy listening to the radio broadcasts. The guys doing those cover every game (year in, year out, good seasons and bad, more often than not) and know all kinds of stuff qbout the team that even the good national talking heads simply don’t.

  9. James Joyner says:

    The guys doing those cover every game (year in, year out, good seasons and bad, more often than not) and know all kinds of stuff qbout the team that even the good national talking heads simply don’t.

    Back when I was watching Braves games regularly, I was spoiled by the superb team at TBS. Not only did they broadcast 150-odd Braves games a year, meaning their crews were simply better at doing baseball than even the big boys, but their announcing team had spent years covering the Braves. When the games were on off-local networks (Fox South, Turner South) or even ESPN, there was a huge dropoff.

    I’ll have to give this a try sometime with football. I must say, though, that both Fox and CBS do a pretty good job with Cowboys games. Sadly, the exception is Monday/Sunday/Thursday Night Football. Those crews just aren’t as good as the A-teams at the other networks.

  10. Tboneinva says:

    Forget the market, Cowboys haters and commentators. The schedule shows that the game is supposed to be on my provider and there is no logical explanation for why it isn’t.