Colts owner Jim Irsay broke the news on Twitter Friday morning:
Meijer's a superstar in our community. Bought 1200 tix and giving to local military families. Game on WTHR. BLUE OUT, not black out.— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 3, 2014
This means that Saturday's Wildcard Round playoff match-up between the Colts and the Chiefs will not be blacked out locally in the Indianapolis TV market. The game should also get streamed live on NBCSports.com. CBS Sports is also live-streaming the games they plan to broadcast on TV as well.
You can watch the Chiefs-Colts game here.
Like Meijer in Indianapolis, grocery store chain Kroger is doing something similar in Cincinnati with the remaining tickets left available for the Chargers-Bengals playoff game. It's now likely that both Cincy and Green Bay, who were also struggling to sell playoff tickets, will avoid local TV blackouts.
The story here isn't so much that the games will be on TV. That's great, but the fact that it took two blackout extensions and a significant financial commitment from a Colts team sponsor (Meijer) to sell out a playoff game is nothing to dismiss, or, conversely, to celebrate.
When teams ask for extensions to sell seats, it usually means they have a backup company. Won’t ask if no hope or help.— Chris Pika (@BlogAndTackle) January 3, 2014
The "hostage taking" approach teams and the NFL have towards fans and the local TV market blackout policies surrounding ticket sales are hated by all, save only the NFL and the corporate sponsors & media empires that pour gold into their coffers.
However, people who work in media are, like fans, sick of the blackout hostage taking. One CBS editor/producer emailed me yesterday about the story, and his line that "blackouts suck" didn't sound all that different from the scores of fans who tweet and comment on this blog expressing the same thing.
Yes, it's obnoxious that, in order to EXPRESS the SERIOUSNESS of how DESPERATE teams are to sell playoff tickets, a bogus sense of urgency has to get created among fans.
BUY TICKETS, OR THE GAMES WON'T BE AIRED ON TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In actuality, the whole situation is avoided completely if the Colts' playoff ticket deadline and reimbursement policy for season ticket holders wasn't so ridiculous, requiring some to buy two playoff game tickets with the promise that, in the future, they'd be reimbursed if Indianapolis did not host another playoff game in 2014. In years past, the money could simply have gone to the price of next season's season tickets.
From Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel:
Under the new policy, season-ticket holders were given the opportunity to buy their allotment of up to four playoff tickets. They had to pay in advance for two playoff games, pay for the highest-priced seats and pay a handling fee. Had the Packers not made the playoffs, the money would have been applied to next year's season tickets.
In other words, fans were looking at committing more than $1,000 with the very real possibility at the time that the money would simply be held by the Packers until the bill for next year's tickets came due.
In previous years, fans had the option of getting the money refunded — and half of all season ticket holders did that, a team official said.
Paying money for games that may not happen? A cheap money grab. Pure and simple.
This further pushes the narrative that the NFL isn't for fans, but rather for corporate sponsors who want to sell their sh*t to fans. It's nice that Meijer and Kroger plan to give the tickets they purchased to military personnel and their families, but, come on. Who else were they going to give them too? Each other?
It's a nice marketing move, but that's all it is.
MEIJER'S tickets went to Ind. Blue Star Salute, Ind. National Guard, Survivor Outreach Services, & Wish for Our Heroes. Colts gave to same.— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 3, 2014
Here's a better idea, Jim Irsay: Make the tickets more affordable, and the purchasing policies less greedy, so that military personnel and families can actually, you know, buy them.
Of course, that tact cuts out promos for team sponsors, but it achieves the same goal of putting military families in seats at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. It also stimulates the economy, creates a better sense of community between fans and the team, and a bunch of other positive reasons that don't involve corporate or team sponsors.
I'm not hopeful that Irsay and his billionaire ilk that own all the other NFL teams got this message, but, maybe they did. That it took this long to sell out THE most important home game for the Colts since Peyton Manning returned in November 2013 should serve as a wake-up call.
We'll see if it does or not.