WFLA-Ch. 8 announces five-year deal to air Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason football games
After a few years where Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason games aired on other channels, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 announced a deal today securing the broadcasts for the next five years.
Under the agreement, WFLA will produce and broadcast three contests: a home game with the Baltimore Ravens Aug.8; at Miami versus the Dolphins Aug. 24, and another home game against Washington on Aug. 29.
But given that many Buccaneers home games are blacked out from local broadcast, is the deal as important as it seems?
WTVT-Ch. 13 gets The Buccaneers’ second preseason game at New England, broadcast on FOX; WFLA will also air pregame specials before each game and Bucs Bonus, a show on the team scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturdays.
WFLA once again becomes a “Pewter Partner” with the football team, included in signage throughout the stadium and team’s One Buc Place headquarters, said WFLA general manager Brad Moses.
“This is complete package…a great opportunity to market the station and promte the team,” Moses added. “We’ve been talking about this for some time.”
WFLA’s loss of the broadcasts back in 2011 coincided with a wave of cost-cutting as station owner Media General struggled to deal with losses among its newspapers. After selling off its newspapers last year, the company has focused on rebuilding its broadcast properties, announcing a deal last week to merge with Young Broadcasting.
Deals to air the Buccaneers’ preseason football games have grown more controversial, as the team’s struggle to sell tickets locally led to several games being “blacked out” from local broadcast (NFL rules prevent local stations from airing home games if the stadium isn’t mostly sold out days before the event).
Last year, the team’s preseason opening game was blacked out for third year in a row. But Moses shrugged off any questions on whether the games have lost value because broadcasters don’t know when they might air.
“It’s taking a strong brand and tying it to another strong brand in the local marketplace,” he said. “We think it’s a great deal and we’re very excited.”