JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars watch the release of 10,000 balloons to end halftime ceremones during play against the Houston Texans November 27, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Texans won 20 - 13. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
The NFL owners recently passed a rule that would allow clubs to declare a lower blackout number than the typical 100 percent of general bowl sales. Teams can now drop that number down to 85 percent, and thus far only one team has done so. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just recently announced that they would drop their blackout threshold to 85 percent, the lowest that is allowed. Other teams like the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts have come out and said they would stick to the old method, of 100 percent general bowl sales.
This has led some to wonder what the Jacksonville Jaguars will do in that regard, given their struggles in the past with selling tickets. The team can lower their blackout number if they wish, but they shouldn't.
Saying that the Jaguars should keep their blackout threshold at 100 percent might sound nonsensical on the surface, but if you explore the new rule a bit more, it's actually detrimental to a team to drop it too low. In the case of the Bucs, their ticket sales are in more dire straits than the Jaguars ever were, so it makes sense for Tampa Bay. I would expect Tampa Bay, even with dropping the blackout number, to still struggle to get their games on television.
The Jaguars on the other hand did receive "help" in some instances with getting their games on television last season, the number the team missed by was well above the 85 percent threshold. The team, by all reports, are pacing ahead of last season in ticket sales growth and has made it a point to lean away from the word "blackout" going forward.
Given the direction the team is going in that regard, I find it hard to believe the Jaguars will drop their blackout threshold much, if at all. It would make sense for the team to drop it to say 95 percent or so, but keeping it at the current level should be in the Jaguars interests. Not to mention the stigma already unfairly hanging over the team with blackouts, it would just be inviting in a swarm of negative PR.
Once teams drop that threshold, half of the money from all tickets sold beyond that point are given to the "visitors pool" of money, not to the home team. Through the course of a season, if a team drops their threshold too low they could lose millions of dollars in ticket sales money, whereas it would have been cheaper to just buy up the remaining 2,000-3,000 tickets at 34 cents on the dollar.
Somethings that looks like a good idea, aren't always a good idea.