ESPN and Fox affiliate WJW-TV Cleveland have
chipped in to help guarantee a sell-out for the 1 and 7 Cleveland Browns' Monday
night game, according to the team. The game is with the Baltimore Ravens (Cleveland is the former Colts franchise,
which moved from Baltimore).
ESPN, which will air the game nationally, and
WJW-TV, which has the local rights, teamed with the Browns and football
advertiser Bud Light to purchase the remaining tickets and insure the game
would not be blacked out on local TV screens, per NFL policy if a game is not
The tickets will be donated to the USO and other
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the start of
the season the league had no plans to lift the TV blackout of home games
not sold out 72 hours before game time, even given the economic hit that has
reduced the discretionary spending power of some fans.
The league does have a policy of giving more time
to teams showing "significant progress" toward selling out.
Goodell has estimated that no more than 20% of the
games could be blacked out this season, which is more than five times the 4%
blackouts of last season. The average for the decade before last year had been
8%. But even the 20% is better than the previous two decades.
In the 1990's, 31% of games were blacked out, said
the spokesman, and in the 1980's it was more like 40%.
The TV blackout does not apply to club seats and
suites, but instead to the general admission seats whose sales could be
depressed by the games availability on TV.