How Sponsors Saved Three Of This Weekend's Four NFL Playoff Games From Not Being Locally Televised

Bengals thumbAP Photos/David KohlThe Bengals bench during last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

As of Thursday morning, thousands of tickets remained for the Chiefs-Colts game, the Chargers-Bengals game, and the 49ers-Packers game.

And if one of the games did not sell out, there would be a blackout, meaning it would not be televised in the home team’s region.

By Friday afternoon, sponsors stepped in and prevented a catastrophe, purchasing a combined 21,000 tickets.

The midwestern supermarket company Meijer bought up 1,200 tickets for Indianapolis Colts fans. P&G and regional supermarket Kroger purchased “thousands” of tickets for Bengals fans in Cincinnati. And a team of the Packers’ corporate sponsors led by Associated Bank saved Green Bay from potential chaos.

In each case, the sponsor-bought tickets will be available for free to military veterans and their families.

Such a decision from a sponsor builds the brand’s image and is certainly a nice gesture to those who serve our country, but it also allows their commercials to be seen on thousands of television screens during the game’s broadcast.

It is not uncommon for sponsors to buy remaining tickets to prevent a blackout, but for it to happen on such a large scale (21,000 tickets!) is embarrassing for the NFL and will require its attention.

No one seems to argue that the decline in ticket sales is related to a decline in fan support.

Rather, the NFL argues that it is due to an improved home viewing experience, with the popularity of HD broadcasts.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert thinks that is likely a big reason, but not the only one the NFL should be focusing on:

“It should also understand, however, that ticket prices, outdoor weather, harsh ticket policies, and, yes, drunken fans are also contributing factors…”

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