The first television blackout of a Miami Dolphins game this season will not affect viewers in South Florida.
The announcement by the San Diego Chargers that Sunday’s game with the Dolphins will be blacked out in the San Diego television market is a sign of the times in the NFL (it will be shown live in South Florida on CBS at 4:15 p.m.). It may soon be reality here as well.
There were 6,500 tickets remaining for the game at Thursday’s 72-hour blackout deadline. The previous week it took a 24-hour extension for the Chargers to sell enough tickets to get their game with the Chiefs on local television.
With thousands of tickets remaining for Sunday’s game, the Chargers opted not to follow the example of the Dolphins, who along with sponsor Bud Light bought about 10,000 tickets for their recent home game against Houston.
Even with those unsold tickets given away to season-ticket holders, only 51,032 showed up for that game against the Texans at Sun Life Stadium. If losses continue for the 0-3 Dolphins, lagging ticket sales figure to continue.
The Dolphins have announced a sellout for the home game against the Eagles, and the season finale against the Jets will likely do so as well, aided by the New York factor. Blackouts for some if not all of the other four games could occur.
The Dolphins have had 103 consecutive regular-season games televised since October 1998.
The next home game is Oct. 23 against Denver, and the Dolphins are hoping for a strong turnout of Florida Gators supporters for the controversial tribute to the 2009 national championships team. Will that and the presence of Tim Tebow on the Broncos’ bench be enough to fill the stadium?
The bigger question, will owner Stephen Ross continue to eat thousands of unsold tickets? NFL policy allows teams to buy remaining non-premium seats at 34 cents on the dollar.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said when the blackout was lifted for the Texans game. “A lot can happen before now and our next game, and we’re hopeful we won’t be in this situation as we move forward throughout this season. But we’ll have to wait and see.”
Dee said Ross felt strongly about building a connection with fans to the team early in the season.
Since then, the Dolphins lost to the Texans, their sixth consecutive home defeat (11 of the past 12 at home), followed by a bitter last-minute loss in Cleveland.
Blackouts are common in some NFL cities, and they have been on the rise league-wide for several seasons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on TV in their home market for the first time in 14 regular-season and exhibition games when they host the Colts on Monday night.
After the Chargers-Dolphins blackout was announced, a San Diego sports radio station asked fans to call in and say why they are not attending games at Qualcomm Stadium. The main reasons given were the economy and the high cost of attending NFL games.
Team Marketing Report, a publisher of sports marketing and sponsorship information since 1988, calculates the average cost of taking a family of four to a game for all NFL teams. The Chargers rank 10th with a Fan Cost Index of $432.20 a game.
That is slightly above the league average of $427.21. The Dolphins are 22nd at $386.16, one place ahead of the Buccaneers. The Jets are the most expensive game experience at $628.90.
FCI is calculated on the prices of four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least-expensive, adult-size adjustable souvenir caps.
Easy to see why many fans are electing to watch at home on their HD televisions or in sports bars. Particularly if the product on the field isn’t paying off in wins and excitement.