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Time for TV Blackout 2.0

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  • #91
    Originally posted by CFLFAN1 View Post

    If 500,000 viewers watch an average CFL game, I highly doubt that 200,000 would be blacked-out in the traditional 50-km blackout zone (the Riders with their province-wide blackout should be exempted from any blackouts.) If 200,000 fans on average are watching the home team, that means the road team's fans also total about 200,000, which leaves only 100,000 viewers for the rest of the country. That is very unlikely. The number of local viewers is more like 125,000, on average, leaving 375,000 viewers for the road team and all the rest of the country.

    If a CFL team can't sell or distribute 20,000 tickets, they desperately need to sell more season ticket packages. Threatening to blackout some home games on TV (within 50-km of the stadium, everyone else in the province and country can still watch all games on TV.) is just a tool to help sell season tickets and flex-packs.

    I believe too many fans are choosing to stay home to watch CFL home games on TV. Teams currently earn only about 15%-20% of their $20M+ budgets from TV revenue. Ticket sales are far more important to CFL team's bottom line.

    I don't agree the league would still thrive if games were played in near-empty stadiums, even with robust TV ratings and rampant live streaming and tweets. Football is an exciting sport and having throngs of excited fans in the stands is an essential part of the game. The league needs to take action now to draw more fans back to the stadium, especially in the large urban markets.

    I'd also predict that the threat of a local blackout along with a multi-media season ticket marketing campaign (with generous discounts for season tickets over single-game sales) would generate 3,000 extra ST sales in some markets. I'd take the extra 3000 fans in the stands (who'll probably spend $100 or more with their attendance) than 100,000 freeloaders watching home games on TV, Then the next season that 3K (new ST-holders) might grow to 5K, then 7.5K...and so on. Once fans are packing the stadium there is no need for blackouts (which would only come into effect with 19,999 or less ticket sales) with a maximum of 5 home games blacked-out for each team.

    Under this scenario, 5 Argo games would have been blacked-out last year, along with 2 Lions games and 2 or 3 Alouette's games. No other teams had home games with 19,999 or less in attendance. Yes, the TV ratings might be 50k to 100k less for those 10 games (with 50-km blackouts) but the thousands of extra fans in the stands would trump any unlikely or slight drop in the TV contract.
    People are not going to buy season tickets because of the threat of a blackout. Theyíll just tune out the league.

    Nobody here is saying the league will thrive without people in the stands. They are saying you wonít get them there by reducing the visibility of your league. New things need to be tried to get them there but there is no evidence that blackouts will actually help, especially in todayís age of wanting as much information and exposure as quickly as possible.

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    • #92
      I thought I would add to the Chicago Blackhawks example I gave earlier. About 20 years ago, the Vancouver Canucks were terrible. They just moved into the brand new GM Place, but the place was never close to being full. Brian Burke (who I am not a big fan of) became the GM, and he decided to put every Canucks game on TV. This was relatively unheard of back then. The result was that they got a lot more eyes on their games, and some non-fans turned into casual fans. Casual fans started to go to the odd game. Before long the arena was more and more full.

      Obviously, getting a better team on the ice helped too. But that move by Burke was very smart. If they had continued to NOT show games on TV, who knows what direction the team would have taken.

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      • #93
        Originally posted by Don Mega View Post
        I thought I would add to the Chicago Blackhawks example I gave earlier. About 20 years ago, the Vancouver Canucks were terrible. They just moved into the brand new GM Place, but the place was never close to being full. Brian Burke (who I am not a big fan of) became the GM, and he decided to put every Canucks game on TV. This was relatively unheard of back then. The result was that they got a lot more eyes on their games, and some non-fans turned into casual fans. Casual fans started to go to the odd game. Before long the arena was more and more full.

        Obviously, getting a better team on the ice helped too. But that move by Burke was very smart. If they had continued to NOT show games on TV, who knows what direction the team would have taken.
        20 years ago? What about recently? LOL

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        • #94
          I don't think blackouts work anymore, not only because of changes in technical advances (like streaming/piracy), but because they stifle any interest by casual fans, and punish serious fans (for reasons mentioned).

          I'll sprinkle a little more gasoline on this fire, and mention that Rogers is thinking of selling the Blue Jays. As the Jays' quality of play dwindles, so does their game attendance. The Bandwagon is not as popular. But say what you will, the Bandwagon made attending live Jays baseball games desirable. It became a trendoid "happening" thing to do. It helped the Jays.

          I'm hoping that the Argos' GC win will help their attendance. Everyone loves a winner. It's unfortunate that the BMO Field "rivalry" between the TFC and the Argos fans materialized; it has spawned a possibly insurmountable hatred that will work against both teams in the long run.

          BC needs to be bought by someone who wants to build the brand, and in my mind that means introducing things like game ticket bundles that include parking, a freebie in the Concession area, and maybe a deal with BC Ferries.BC's recent decline in the standings couldn't have come at a worse time, and hopefully next year's team is right back in the standings.

          It will be interesting to see what Calgary's attendance numbers will be like next year after a second consecutive GC loss. Will fans there become blase?

          IMO, some CFL teams don't have the serious core fan base that Sask, Hamilton, Edm., and Winnipeg have. This is particularly apparent when these teams have a poor record; the fans show up regardless because of love for the team. Ottawa is vastly improved but we all know what happened there in the past.

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          • #95
            Originally posted by flyguy58 View Post
            I don't think blackouts work anymore, not only because of changes in technical advances (like streaming/piracy), but because they stifle any interest by casual fans, and punish serious fans (for reasons mentioned).

            I'll sprinkle a little more gasoline on this fire, and mention that Rogers is thinking of selling the Blue Jays. As the Jays' quality of play dwindles, so does their game attendance. The Bandwagon is not as popular. But say what you will, the Bandwagon made attending live Jays baseball games desirable. It became a trendoid "happening" thing to do. It helped the Jays.

            I'm hoping that the Argos' GC win will help their attendance. Everyone loves a winner. It's unfortunate that the BMO Field "rivalry" between the TFC and the Argos fans materialized; it has spawned a possibly insurmountable hatred that will work against both teams in the long run.

            BC needs to be bought by someone who wants to build the brand, and in my mind that means introducing things like game ticket bundles that include parking, a freebie in the Concession area, and maybe a deal with BC Ferries.BC's recent decline in the standings couldn't have come at a worse time, and hopefully next year's team is right back in the standings.

            It will be interesting to see what Calgary's attendance numbers will be like next year after a second consecutive GC loss. Will fans there become blase?

            IMO, some CFL teams don't have the serious core fan base that Sask, Hamilton, Edm., and Winnipeg have. This is particularly apparent when these teams have a poor record; the fans show up regardless because of love for the team. Ottawa is vastly improved but we all know what happened there in the past.
            Ottawa had crappy owners. The fans still went.

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            • #96
              The OPs blackout model is not new. It's what the NFL introduced in 2012. Prior to that, games had to be sold out 72 hours in advance in order for the blackout to be lifted. In 2012 they let teams choose if they wanted to move to a model like what the OP mentioned.

              In 2016 a study was published analyzing the effects on the teams that adopted that policy. Yes, it's an American study of the NFL but it's probably the closet parallel you'll be able to draw for the CFL. The study is called "Sell, Blackout or Get Out" and can be easily found online. It should be pointed out that this study compared the capacity threshold blackout model to the sold out blackout model previously used in the NFL. But the study found that while relaxing the blackout rule did result in a decrease in attendance, when corrected for stadium capacity, there was essentially no change. Essentially, the percent of the stadium that was sold stayed the same.

              If we use the results of that study that state that relaxing the blackout rules didn't affect attendance, you can also assume that introducing more strict blackout rules here, also wouldn't have an effect on attendance. So by re-introducing blackouts, you're not going to increase in game attendance. If you think about it, the die hard fans are the ones with season tickets. They're going to every home game and they're watching every road game on TV, and they're also probably watching other teams on TV even when their team isn't playing.This group of fans is going to be completely unaffected by any changes to blackout rules.

              The pirated streams complete changes the whole concept of blackouts. Those that would choose to go to a game because it's blacked out, now have ways around the blackouts and it would likely have little effect on attendance.

              Cost is certainly a factor for some people. what's the cheapest ticket? $25 in most stadium plus fess and taxes? A family of four is looking at $120+ concessions, parking etc. just to attend a game. That's certainly a factor for some people.

              The biggest factor, in my opinion, is success. People love to be associated with a winner. But people have to know you're a winner. So you can win the Grey cup in 2012, but if you don;t market the crap out of that success, nobody knows about it. People jump on the bandwagon and start watching games on TV. Then they start thinking, "I should go to a game" They go, have fun then go to another etc. But since not every team can be successful every year, how do you keep people from jumping off that bandwagon? You create a sense of community around that team. I can;t speak for Edmonton or Winnipeg, but that's one of the things the rider' organization has been very successful at building over the last 20 years. The team (finally) invested in putting a competitive product on the field and at the same time built a sense of pride that it's a community owned franchise - it literally belongs to the fans. The capitalized on the history and heritage of the team. They took advantage of the dispersal of Saskatchewanians across the country and established the whole "Canada's Team" thing. They advertised road games in competing cities (The "We walk Among You" advertising in the early 2000s was genius IMO). They supported U of R and U of S alumni groups to buy blocks of tickets and held pre-game parties. I remember going to a Renegades - Riders game where they had flown in Western Pizza for the pre game party.

              It's not blackouts that are going to drive people back to the stadiums, it starts with success and and the same time, once you have them drawn in, you hook them by making fans feel like they are part of something bigger. That takes intelligent marketing.

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              • #97
                Originally posted by flyguy58 View Post
                BC needs to be bought by someone who wants to build the brand, and in my mind that means introducing things like game ticket bundles that include parking, a freebie in the Concession area, and maybe a deal with BC Ferries.BC's recent decline in the standings couldn't have come at a worse time, and hopefully next year's team is right back in the standings.
                You're a bit behind the times at least for season ticket holders. This year early bird options include a couple of things intended to ease the pain being the cost of getting to games. ST holders can pick as many options as they have season tickets on that account up to a max of 10. I only have a single seat so went for the Compass Card as I fly in for most games and Skytrain it downtown. As usual they have the options of pay in full up front, deposit $100 by Dec 1 and pay balance in April and finally a payment plan which starts as a 10 month equal payment plan ending July 15th but is adjusted the later one renews. I renewed 2 weeks ago turning it into 8 months. Still quite painless at something like $98/month. While these options are intended to get existing ST holders, who are their focus now, to renew early I don't doubt parts if not all of them will be extended to new ST holders who come on board when they start pushing for them in the New Year. They also offer 3 game packs where the holder picks the games and a flex pack of 10 tickets. As usual things like 15% discount at the Lions team store concessions in the stadium, presale for concerts at BCP etc come with the ST.
                https://www.bclions.com/memberships/
                https://www.bclions.com/2018membership-learnmore/
                https://www.bclions.com/ticketpacks/

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                • #98
                  If you provide the fans with an in stadium experience that is worth the time/money/effort they will gladly come.

                  If you don't they will stay at home.

                  Not letting them watch on TV will just make it that much harder to get them to go and watch a team they don't care about.

                  Blackouts are just a crutch to hide bad marketing.

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                  • #99
                    Originally posted by Don Mega View Post
                    I thought I would add to the Chicago Blackhawks example I gave earlier. About 20 years ago, the Vancouver Canucks were terrible. They just moved into the brand new GM Place, but the place was never close to being full. Brian Burke (who I am not a big fan of) became the GM, and he decided to put every Canucks game on TV. This was relatively unheard of back then. The result was that they got a lot more eyes on their games, and some non-fans turned into casual fans. Casual fans started to go to the odd game. Before long the arena was more and more full.

                    Obviously, getting a better team on the ice helped too. But that move by Burke was very smart. If they had continued to NOT show games on TV, who knows what direction the team would have taken.
                    Quinn was the GM for the first 3 years in GM Place. Burke took over in the 4th year, 1998-99. It was a few years after that that all games were offered on "free" TV. For a few years in the era you're talking a bunch of games were only available on Pay-Per-View. I recall that because my buddy (a Bruins fan) would come home from work on a PPV night and there would be a $10 bill on the coffee table in the living room from one of his teenage daughters to cover him buying the Canuck PPV that night. That would've been around 2003 in the glory days of the West Coast Express line. They were still doing Pay-Per-View during the 2008-2009 season with a 12 game slate. It wasn't until around 2010 that one could see all Canuck games on Sportnet Pacific or CBC.

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                    • Originally posted by Hambone View Post

                      Quinn was the GM for the first 3 years in GM Place. Burke took over in the 4th year, 1998-99. It was a few years after that that all games were offered on "free" TV. For a few years in the era you're talking a bunch of games were only available on Pay-Per-View. I recall that because my buddy (a Bruins fan) would come home from work on a PPV night and there would be a $10 bill on the coffee table in the living room from one of his teenage daughters to cover him buying the Canuck PPV that night. That would've been around 2003 in the glory days of the West Coast Express line. They were still doing Pay-Per-View during the 2008-2009 season with a 12 game slate. It wasn't until around 2010 that one could see all Canuck games on Sportnet Pacific or CBC.
                      I remember it being much earlier than that. They used a few local TV stations, in addition to CBC, TSN and the then-new Sportsnet. Yes, they moved to a PPV model later on, which was panned by many fans. I'm not saying they continued to show every single game every season, but they did early on in the life of GM Place.

                      The point is of course, that Burke's tactic of broadcasting every game, even if it was only for one season, was a great way to generate interest in a team that was struggling, both on the ice and at the gate.

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                      • THe assumption to go with blackouts is that without the game on TV it will give incentive to those fans who just watch on TV to go to the games. I think the reality is those people will watch something else. The trick is not to make the product even more unavailable. What we need, and noone has a perfect solution for this yet is to turn that TV audience (yes even the GTA has a good one) into a ticket buyer.

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                        • Originally posted by cfl first View Post
                          The CFL used to have a TV blackout policy that was too rigid for a 2017 fan of the league. However, I believe the issue needs to be re-addressed because of the different parameters.

                          Most of the large urban centers now operate in small facilities (including lower bowl-only BC) so I would make them sell 75% of their seats before the league lifts a TV blackout within a 60 mile (100 km) radius of the major cities. The trade-off for the broadcaster would be a better visual appearance for their TV viewers. The necessary attendance bump would not actually require a drastic increase in numbers and would look better on TV.
                          .
                          Every one of the large markets has access to lazy and unmotivated fans who are allowed to view the game with no real urge to sustain the league as a paying customer. Some may suggest that a blackout would eradicate the gains made by the league in terms of TV numbers, but I would suggest the blackout policy was enforced at an unrealistic 100% rate and compromised the TV audience numbers. A lesser percentage in a small stadium is more realistic and the visual effect of a fuller building would definitely enhance the TV experience. Human nature 101: we hate to visit uncrowded places, even on TV. Unless it's a wilderness special.

                          Right now there is no incentive for big city fans to actually attend games and they have enthusiastically abandoned the league in wholesale fashion when it comes to actually going to a game. We are on the cusp of a big change and will likely see the CFL host a Grey Cup in October within a few years. The season will be moved up and the outdoor football facilities in this country will be a warmer environment for CFL fans in autumn. The weather excuse will be less likely and a new, more realistic blackout rule should implemented at the same time.
                          Agreed. Or pay per view only. Unless itís sold out. Then free. Although this tinkering could backfire. Advertising dollars on TSN and the money. Iím not sure what the answer is. But I hate this new world of common order engulfed by laziness and all entertainment being viewed as free.

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                          • So it's as simple as having a winning team and intelligent marketing that will draw fans back to the stadium in our major centres, while still televising home games? One problem is all teams can't be winners, so half the team's will have packed stadiums and half will lose money?

                            The Lions had a tremendously exciting team in 2016 with a double-digit winning playoff team but fan support continued to dwindle. We really can't compare the NFL. Virtually everybody knows when the NFL games are on with saturation media coverage. With the Lions, they have very sparse media coverage with most of the football beat reporters having retired or laid off. Unless casual fans checkout the BC Lions.com website, they would never know when the home games will be played. I also doubt that David Braley doesn't care about ticket sales or is dreaming up marketing campaigns from his hospital bed in Hamilton. That's why he hired a president and team of marketing professionals to run the team.

                            In the U.S. blackouts might work in a game-to-game basis. But in the CFL there would be little uptick in next game-day sales if you announced a blackout. Casual fans in major centres just don't know when the games are on or hear much about the team. Blackouts should only used as a marketing tool to help sell season ticket packages in the off-season, not on a game-to-game basis. Fans need to support their team by buying seasons tickets or some home games could be blacked-out.

                            While local blackouts would likely drop TSN's ratings, even a slight drop in the team's $4M TV rights fee is not going to make that much difference to team's bottom line. Even with maximum blackouts local fans could still watch 81 of 86 CFL games on TV. I doubt that would be catastrophic or have fans stop following the teams, with up to 5 home games blacked-out if attendance is 19,999 or lower.

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                            • Originally posted by CFLFAN1 View Post
                              So it's as simple as having a winning team and intelligent marketing that will draw fans back to the stadium in our major centres, while still televising home games? One problem is all teams can't be winners, so half the team's will have packed stadiums and half will lose money?

                              The Lions had a tremendously exciting team in 2016 with a double-digit winning playoff team but fan support continued to dwindle. We really can't compare the NFL. Virtually everybody knows when the NFL games are on with saturation media coverage. With the Lions, they have very sparse media coverage with most of the football beat reporters having retired or laid off. Unless casual fans checkout the BC Lions.com website, they would never know when the home games will be played. I also doubt that David Braley doesn't care about ticket sales or is dreaming up marketing campaigns from his hospital bed in Hamilton. That's why he hired a president and team of marketing professionals to run the team.

                              In the U.S. blackouts might work in a game-to-game basis. But in the CFL there would be little uptick in next game-day sales if you announced a blackout. Casual fans in major centres just don't know when the games are on or hear much about the team. Blackouts should only used as a marketing tool to help sell season ticket packages in the off-season, not on a game-to-game basis. Fans need to support their team by buying seasons tickets or some home games could be blacked-out.

                              While local blackouts would likely drop TSN's ratings, even a slight drop in the team's $4M TV rights fee is not going to make that much difference to team's bottom line. Even with maximum blackouts local fans could still watch 81 of 86 CFL games on TV. I doubt that would be catastrophic or have fans stop following the teams, with up to 5 home games blacked-out if attendance is 19,999 or lower.
                              I donít see how youíll possibly use blackouts as a marketing tool? Youíre not going to get more people in the door by threatening to cut them off. As has been said numerous times, how do you increase interest by reducing exposure? Itís just counter intuitive. You even state that the exposure in bc isnít great and that more is needed.

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                              • The only blackouts that are going to happen are the ones due to the Rod Black Drinking Game.

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