BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Buffalo Bills have made a decision about whether or not to adopt the new TV blackout policy. The decision is sparking mixed reactions from Bills fans.
The team decided not to make any changes to the local TV blackout rules, by opting out of a new NFL policy that they say would have cost them to much money and forced ticket prices to climb.
The NFL is relaxing their TV blackout rules. Teams opting in would be allowed to sell 85 percent of tickets rather than sell out in order for the game to be broadcast on local television.
Friday morning the Bills confirmed they would not be taking advantage of the new rule because they say it doesn't make sense.
The team says it would cost them around $500,000 in revenue per season, because the new new policy would require them to pay half of the money from every ticket sold to the league-wide revenue pool instead of the typical 34 percent.
That could have translated into higher ticket prices.
On Facebook, Bills fans had mixed reactions.
James supports the teams decision writing, "As well they should have.....Small market teams do not need to have less (people) in the seats"
But Heidi and Lyn don't like the decision. Heidi wrote "Great way to keep your fans happy! (sarcasm intended )" and Lyn said "Pure Greed by the Wilson family!"
When learning the Bills will not change their policy, Congressman Brian Higgins released the following statement:
"Western New York is home to the most loyal fan base in the NFL and the decision by the Bills to continue the practice of blacking out the television screens of local fans is deeply disappointing.
"I have a great deal of respect for the Bills organization which operates a team this community loves and supports. The game day experience for the 12th Man at Ralph Wilson Stadium is something that can never be replicated at home and one we should continue to encourage and promote. However, it is fundamentally unfair and fiscally short-sighted to alienate the dedicated fans regardless of where they sit to cheer on our team."
The Buffalo Fan Alliance President Matt Sabuda released this statement:
"While we are disappointed that the Bills aren't planning to opt-in to the NFL's new relaxed blackout policy, we understand and respect their decision. Unfortunately, the new rule makes it more difficult on small market teams to participate by asking them to predict a ticket selling threshold with the risk of lost revenue. We hope that the rule can be further refined by the league to allow better participation among all markets. We continue to passionately support the team and hope that consistent sellouts will allow every Bills fan to the opportunity to see every game this year."
The Buffalo Bills released this statement:
The NFL gave their 32 teams the option of declaring sellouts if 85 percent of non-premium tickets for a home game were sold 72 hours prior to game time to lift local television blackouts. After an exhaustive analysis the Buffalo Bills have chosen not to participate in the new TV blackout policy.
"We are a volume-based franchise," said Bills CEO Russ Brandon. "For us to be successful we have to keep our ticket prices low and sell a great number of tickets. At 73,000 strong, our fans create one of the best Home Field Advantages in the entire National Football League."
NFL clubs that do choose to participate in the new 85 percent blackout rule must surrender 50 percent of money from every ticket sold over the 85 percent threshold to the NFL's "visiting team pool" instead of the typical 34 percent. That would mean substantial revenue losses for games that sellout.
The Bills also determined that adopting the policy would have very little impact on what games would actually be televised as opposed to being blacked out. Over the past two years there have been six Bills regular season home games blacked out to local television audiences. Had the new 85 percent TV blackout policy been in place since 2010 only one of those six TV blackouts would've been lifted, last year's Dec. 18th home game against Miami.
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