1. Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' preseason home opener is a TV blackout

Published Aug. 15, 2012

TAMPA — Affordable ticket prices, the NFL's 85 percent seat exemption, yearly payment plans, half-season ticket plans — the Bucs have tried it all this year trying to generate sales and avoid those annoying local television blackouts.

The fans have spoken.

They prefer to listen to it live on radio.

At least that's true for Friday's preseason home opener against the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium.

Because the team failed to sell 85 percent of its general seats at least 72 hours before kickoff, the game is subject to the NFL's local television blackout within a 75-mile radius of the home market, the Bucs confirmed Tuesday.

The game will air locally on tape delay at 11:30 p.m. on Ch. 10. The game also will air Saturday at noon. Ken Tonning, Ch. 10's general manager, said the station was aware of the possibility that home games might not be broadcast live.

"The same thing happened last year and it has worked out fine," Tonning said. "The advertisers are satisfied with the broadcasts."

Tuesday's announcement that the game will be televised only on tape delay is more evidence that the Bucs are still struggling to sell tickets amid a down economy that is compounded by the team's 4-12 record in 2011.

The Bucs have had 13 of their past 15 regular-season games at RJS blacked out dating to 2010.

Tampa Bay is one of three teams to take advantage of the NFL's optional softened blackout restrictions, allowing blackouts to be lifted if 85 percent of non-premium seats — about 44,000 in this case — are sold at least 72 hours before kickoff.

On Monday, the team debuted two "half-season" ticket plans that will allow fans more flexibility. The Red Plan includes games against the Titans (preseason), Panthers, Redskins, Saints and Chargers. The Pewter Plan offers games against the Patriots (preseason), Chiefs, Falcons, Eagles and Rams.

Tampa Bay's other preseason home game, against New England, is Aug. 24.

The regular-season opener is against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 9 at RJS.

"We want to give our fans every opportunity to watch as many games as they can this year," Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said recently. "But I cannot stand here today and predict how many there will be (on television). But we're hopeful there will be more games on television than last year."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.


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