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End of Bills blackouts makes more sense in preseason; Jaws supports EJ

This is what I’m thinking:

I realize many Buffalo Bills fans are rooting for the end of blackouts of the National Football League team's home games even if they aren’t sold out, but don’t count me among the cheerleaders on that issue.

I’m all for ending the blackouts for preseason games, like tonight’s exhibition finale with Detroit. The blackouts are unlikely to drive sales for meaningless preseason games in the summer.

And the Bills probably wish more fans could see the finale live to potentially get the bad taste out of fans’ mouths after last week’s home disaster against Tampa Bay.

Televising the home preseason games is just a good public relations move that – with strong performances -- has the potential to sell regular season tickets.

The tape-delayed telecast on Channel 7 of the Lions game on Friday is likely to get one-third of the audience that a live telecast would receive.

My support for ending blackouts stops in the regular season. I still think the end of blackouts could impact attendance here for the late season games in bad weather.

The end of blackouts also could potentially hurt even more if a new stadium is eventually built and ticket prices increase substantially.

I’ve been a season ticket-holder for close to 30 years and pay an average of $90 a ticket for two seats near the 50-yard line. I’m also required to spend the equivalent of $360 for the two meaningless preseason games that I wouldn’t ordinary attend unless the Bills paid me. In my mind, being saddled with the worthless preseason games really drives the cost of my regular season tickets to about $112 per seat.

If a new stadium is built and the price of my prized seats go up substantially, as many experts claim they will, I’d most likely drop them and just buy the two or three regular season games that I really want to see and watch the rest on TV if the blackout rule ended.

If the blackouts end and more people do what I plan to do, the Bills could end up getting get less revenue in ticket sales from the new stadium than they do now in the old one.

I was amused Wednesday when WGR’s Sal Capaccio and Jeremy White had a brief debate on whether tonight’s blackout is a good thing for the sports station that carries the Bills games and is the only option when the games aren’t televised. Capaccio, who is now WGR’s sideline reporter, said it will mean more people will listen to John Murphy and Mark Kelso call the game on WGR.

White said the station is better off when the games are televised because when more people see the game on TV that drives more calls to WGR’s talk shows.

I’m siding with White. The blackouts help WGR for one night, but hurt it on the other days of the week.

I will say I find myself agreeing more with Capaccio these days. He has become the voice of reason in the preseason. This week during a debate on whether the Bills paid too much by giving up a 2015 first-round draft choice to move up and take wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Capaccio essentially said he is a long-term believer in Watkins and thinks it will be a good trade even if it doesn’t play off instantly.

I see the Bills announced tonight’s game is being blacked out early this week. I announced it last week, based on television sources. The Bills have to tell TV stations if games are likely to be televised to help the stations know if they can sell ads.

Channel 7 probably got an early heads-up that the Kids Days game against Tampa Bay was going to be televised. By the way, I was at the game (I told you I had to pay substantially for the tickets) and there were plenty of empty seats.

The empty seats were a lot more noticeable than the game clock or the 30-second clock. I kept looking for those clocks throughout the game and had trouble finding them. I especially had trouble finding the game clock, which isn’t consistently on view as it should be.

In case you missed it, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski this week was much kinder than Jim Kelly in assessing Bills quarterback EJ Manuel. Jaws said on “NFL Live” that he still thinks Manuel has the skill set to be a good NFL quarterback. The Lackawanna native hasn’t wavered on his low opinion of Cleveland rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. On the same day that he supported Manuel, Jaws suggested that the Browns might have to take another quarterback in next year’s draft with its own first-round pick or the one it got from the Bills in the Watkins’ trade.





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