Struggling NFL Valiantly Holds Onto TV Viewers

According to the article linked, the expressed reason is to keep TV raings up, and it also notes that the show is (supposed to be) for “private, home-based viewing by individuals” only. The NFL doesn’t give a rip about sports bars.

Does anyone have insight into the legal side of this situation? For example, what is the point in which it becomes illegal? I am thinking of bars, how many people does it take before showing a footbal game is not legal? What is the difference between this action and someone renting a TV and inviting 80 people over to their home for a Superbowl party? I guess I just don;t understand why they have to request permission to broadcast a broadcast.

I don’t understand how this lowers ratings. Neilson polls are the only way ratings can be calculated, right? If one of their participants is at the stadium, I doubt they would say they were not watching television.

My point is, this is hardly surprising, but every year someone asks and the NFL shoots it down. It’s their product and their right to do so. In fact I suspect ratings has little to do with it, more than image control. Can you imagine what could happen after you’ve officially sanctioned what would be in effect the hugest Superbowl party ever and it got out of control?

What could happen? NFL says gives ok. City of Chicago has big party at Soldier Field. Bears lose. Riots break out. Soldier Field is burned to the ground. People die. Do you really think anyone is going to blame the NFL for this?

I’ve been wondering…what if they did it somewhere else, like in the United Center, where the Bulls & Blackhawks play, would the NFL be able to stop them? If the Bears organization is not involved, can the city sponsor it, for example? The broadcast is on free network TV, after all.

Yes. What are you, new? Look at the shit they took for the Tit thing.

Not to mention nearly every year some woman’s group tries to link the superbowl with an increase in domestic violence

The NFL is kicking MLB and NBA asses for ratings why take a chance at tarnishing your image that way.

Difference being the NFL runs the superbowl and controls what is shown during it’s airing. Unless the NFL organized and ran the event at soldier field, which isn’t the case since it would be the city organizing the event at the city owned stadium, there would be no blame towards them. That would be like blaming them for a riot that occured at a sports bar during the superbowl.

Wouldn’t matter – the NFL has been spent the last few years pissing all over the Super Bowl parties that Vegas casinos used to throw.

Relevant story from last year’s Las Vegas Sun:

Thanks for the link, Hal. IMO, that is just ridiculous.

The NFL has a long history cracking down on people showing games in ways they don’t approve of. I recall a story from many years ago, when I lived in “Upstate” New York. The Buffalo Bills didn’t sell out games, so they would often be blacked out in Buffalo and Rochester, a city about 60 miles away at it’s closest point. A sports bar on the far side of Rochester (still in the 75 mile blackout radius) would be able to pick up the non-blacked out broadcast from Syracuse, and the NFL came down on them like a ton of bricks. For showing an openly broadcast signal that their antenna could pick up.

Hm… on further review, this doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore. The NFL, thanks to its iron fisted legal department, now blacks out the Syracuse broadcast on WTVH even though Syracuse is 150 miles away from Buffalo.

So if people set up satellite dishes in the parking lot and they get the game that way, will the NFL Police, brandishing motorola headsets and clipboards, swoop down on them with full football helmet riot gear on?

The NFL doesn’t care as long as you don’t charge people to watch their free broadcast. Was the Soldier field event free? Seems I recall reading that there was a fee involved.

It is a violation of copyright (for pretty much any tv broadcast) to charge people to watch something. I remember a story about a bootleg boxing night, where people charged a fee at public screenings of classic fights. That was a clearcut case of copyright violation.

Sports bars do not charge patrons to watch sports events, thus there is no copyright issue. There is a ratings issue, though, as Nielson doesn’t count things like sports bars and college dorms. The debate over those ommissions has been going on for years.

As for the riot issue, that’s probably the real reason. It’s the same rationale as why they put up netting on FG and XP tries: they don’t care about losing footballs, (the netting is more costly,) but the PR mess of fights in the stands is something they don’t want any part of.

Also, the Superbowl brings in 90 million viewers, not 100.

Isn’t also true that they don’t let anyone use the word “Superbowl” in ads? That’s why radio ads say, “Get a new plasma for The Big Game.”

Not quite true, you can pay to be the official sponsor in your category of the Super Bowl. Otherwise it is as you mentioned, just advertise for the Big Game or some such.


Yes, I think you have to be an official sponsor to use the word “Superbowl.”

Several churches in Indianapolis cancelled plans for Super Bowl parties. The NFL says,

  1. You can’t charge admission.
  2. Thou shalt have no graven image larger than 55 inches.

That was on the front page. In the Go! section, under the heading “Super Bowl events,” they listed 33 bars with specials that day. 8 of them say “Super Bowl Party (or Bash.)” 5 boast of very large TVs. The ones that have a cover charge are saying the charge is for the buffet. They don’t seem to be scared of the NFL’s lawyers.

Apparently, not so.


[sub]Bolding mine[/sub]

I have the same question as Lissa back in post #22 - What is the legal basis for this? The NFL points to copyright laws - does the law specifically reference the 55" limit? Does it specifically exempt Sports Bars? Who is going to enforce this?

Am I in technical violation of the law using my rear projection home theater with a 60" screen? Only if I invite others over? Or only if I take the projector outside my home? WTF?

Yeah, I’m using front projector to display a 110" image. Wonder if I should move it closer to the wall to avoid breaking any copyrights. :rolleyes:

Answering a couple of my own questions, yes, the copyright laws specify the 55" limit, and have a carve out for “drinking establishments”. Unbelievable.

US Code, Title 17, 110. Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays