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Are Blackouts Useful?

Last year was a disaster for faithful, local Buccaneers fans who couldn't go to the game. None of the home games were locally televised, because the stadium never sold out. Not only did this rob local fans of the chance to watch an exciting young team, I can't imagine it was good for the team's popularity in the area. In previous years the Glazers made sure to buy up all the unsold tickets to ensure the games remained televised, but they decided not to do that in 2010. Moreover, it seems the Glazers will be allowing blackouts in 2011 as well.

Of course, that doesn't really mesh with the Bucs' decision to increase their national profile. They added a game in London ostensibly for extra publicity, and to make sure the game wouldn't be blacked out. They're also rumored to be the team that will be featured on this year's Hard Knocks, if the labor situation allows that show to be filmed at all. The Bucs constantly emphasize the fact they have 'exciting young playmakers' on their team like Mike Williams, Legarrette Blount and Josh Freeman. This is a team that wants to be liked and wants to be known, but that will still allow its games to be blacked out locally.

Of course, the Bucs didn't think of this blackout rule. The NFL has had this rule for a while, and it's supposed to bring more people to the stadium. In fact, even the very first Super Bowl was blacked out. But in these days of internet streams and instant access to news, the rule doesn't make a lot of sense. Anyone who really wants to can watch the game anyway, albeit with poorer quality and some delay. And no one really knows whether this actually brings more people to the stadium, or simply forces people to go do something else. In fact, I can see this hurting a franchise in the long term.

So, I wanted to know what you guys do when a game is blacked out? Do you buy tickets, do you find another way to watch it, are you not affected by the blackouts, or do you simply go do something else entirely?