Entertaining On Both Sides Of The Ball

November 15th, 2012

Bucs fans seem content to be entertained by Mike Williams and the high-flying Bucs from the comfort of their homes.

Last night, Woody Cummings of The Tampa Tribune dropped a phone call to the “Mark Cook Experience,” starring (you guessed it) Mark Cook, heard locally on WHFS-FM 98.7, to talk Bucs football.

And as is the habit of local sports radio far too often, the boring subject of what strangers do with their cash (attendance) rose it’s ugly head, though the subject was not initiated by Cook.

Thankfully, it was not Rays attendance.

Cummings suggested Bucs fans are missing out on a quality product with all the blacked out home games, and Cummings was scratching his head in trying to figure out why the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway is not packed.

“They are an entertaining football team right now, an extremely entertaining football team. I’m a little surprised the fanbase hasn’t picked up on this a little more and bought into the team,” Cummings said. “They are missing a good show, is what they are missing, on both sides of the ball. Obviously the offense is dynamic and plenty of things to see there. But on defense, there is Mark Barron who is arguably already one of the better safety prospects this team has ever had, and Gerald McCoy is worth the price of admission and Lavonte David — if you think Doug Martin is the “Rookie of the Year,” this guy [David] has a better chance of at least wining the “Rookie of the Year” as a Buccaneer. In all likelihood Andrew luck has a better chance of winning; they always choose quarterbacks anyway. But Lavonte David is having just as good if not better season than Doug Martin and is probably more consistent. He’s been making big plays since the beginning of the year. They are entertaining on both sides of the ball.”

While Joe understands where Cummings is coming from, “this Joe” will once again repeat that we are in the midst of a cultural change as how fans consume sports. No longer is going to the games the preferred method. Hell, even NFL warden commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged this. Yeah, HDTV and the convenience of home (cheaper/better food/beer, quick access to a bathroom sans a line) is a big reason, as is the plague of fantasy football.

Here’s another reason: Red Zone Channel.

Joe has only watched this once or twice and it was too ADD-ish for him. Joe enjoys watching how a game unfolds, not just glorified highlights.

For those unaware what the Red Zone Channel is, it is a channel run by the NFL Network broadcast only on Sunday afternoons. Whenever a team enters a red zone, the channel picks up that game’s broadcast feed. The broadcast bounces from stadium to stadium for the next six hours or so. Joe understands that fantasy football types are drawn to this channel like a hungry Doberman Pinscher is to a steak.

And, oh by the way, now that Red Zone Channel is carried by Bright House Networks, nearly every home in the Tampa Bay area has access to the Red Zone Channel, whereas prior to this season, that was not the case.

Throw in the fact that NFC South foes do not draw fans anywhere close to the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway like the old NFC North teams, and there’s little wonder to “this Joe” why the Bucs, even with one of the most exciting teams in the NFL, struggle to reach the 85 percent capacity of non-premium seats.

It’s hard to convince consumers to pay more for less. Fans preferring to stay at home is a trend, a cultural trend, that is not likely to be reversed any time soon.

Once one wraps their arms around this, the attendance debate becomes little more than white noise for lesser sports radio hosts.

38 Responses to “Entertaining On Both Sides Of The Ball”

  1. BigMacAttack Says:

    Call me crazy but I just like going to the games. It really isn’t about the money, or Hd, but the experience. I like to see the whole field and TV doesn’t do that. TV shows way too much sidelines and player butt close ups.

  2. flmike Says:

    I’m coming in from Palm Beach for the Falcons game and bringing about 20 people with me, should be a blast.

  3. Joe Says:

    flmike:

    Wow, that’s a crew!

  4. Bill Says:

    Put a few home games on tv and win them, you will see the fan base start going to the game because they will see how entertaining they are! Just wish I could go to games! I’m Physically unable to so, SUCKS FOR ME!

  5. OB Says:

    Joe

    This is coming, when is the question, the games will be on pay per view for blackout dates. If they charged $5 or $10 per blackout game, the teams would make a bundle that they are not making now. Just a matter of time until they realize it.

  6. Paul W. Says:

    @Bill

    I’m sorry to hear that. I went to the redskins game this year and am hopefully going to the eagles game as well.

    I had a blast and that was when the weather wasn’t so great. I would much rather be at the game than watching on tv. I’m surprised that I’m in the minority here.

    The majority of sports fans around Tampa Bay are transplants from other areas. I challenge you, the next time you have a conversation about NFL football with someone you don’t know, ask them what team they follow.

  7. TampaRob Says:

    OK- so I was at the game this past Sunday and enjoyed the product. I won’t be back, though, because of the experience. I used to attend 2-3 games a year until recently but probably won’t any longer. Here’s why:
    1. I enjoy watching the whole field, but the NFL Network new “Coach’s Film” takes care of that.
    2. When I watch the whole field sometimes I miss a play because I’m watching the other receivers or line blocking. Stadium replay board showed lots of promos, animated “down” flags, and which Buc is the best dressed— I care about “Mr. Bow Tie” as a Bucs fan, but not when a replay could be shown. They showed a few, but not of key plays. And the ones they showed were usually of plays that happened a while ago.
    3. What happened to the “see what the ref sees in the replay booth”? During the Bucs’ challenge they showed Mr. Bow Tie. No game footage.
    4. Neither I, nor the dozens of season ticket holders sitting near me, knew who it was that was strapped to the back board. 3 people thought it was Lavonte David, 2 thought it was Barber (he sat out the next play and had his number hidden while on the sidelines), and more than a few thought it was Wright. I texted, googled. and tried to find out- but no luck. I didn’t find out it was Quincy Black until an hour later.
    5. No announcement of the inactives. I was in the stadium an hour before gametime and had to find out on ProFootballTalk.com.

    In short, I felt like I was missing out on so much of the game by being there. I’m spoiled. I flip between Red Zone and Bucs (when on TV). I get commentary. I get highlights at halftime. Yes, I understand the special halftime show this past week and get why they focused on that this week (I was there with a large contingent of folks from the Tampa VA) but i don’t think they would play league highlights during any other halftime show– even if it was the classic “dogs catching frisbees” that we used to get back in the 90s. And I would have watched highlights on my phones’ NFL app, but those things should be on the big boards and not on my 5″ screen.

    My 2 cents, and feel free to disagree, but if they want my money make me feel like I am not missing out by being there!!!

  8. flmike Says:

    @Joe,
    Yeah, some are from Tampa, some from Atl and some from PB, hoping to be able to rub it in those Atl’s (all Falcons fans) folks faces when all is said and done…

  9. Snook Says:

    The Red Zone channel is amazing. I don’t watch it for “fantasy” reasons. And its not just about when teams are in the red zone. They’ll put on the game (or games) which are most entertaining at that moment. So I can sit and watch football uninterrupted by LOOOONNNNNG commercial breaks and see all of the exciting action as it unfolds every Sunday. Of course, if the Bucs are on, I’m only watching that. But if they play at 1pm, at the end of the game, I’m on to the RZC.

  10. Bucnjim Says:

    Win in Carolina and It’s a guaranteed sell out! Fans need to see that this team is for real and will be a lasting contender for years to come.

  11. SensibleBuc Says:

    I’ll be at the Carolina game this weekend. Anybody up here in my neck of the woods (Charlotte)?

  12. Joe Says:

    OB:

    Joe believes you are correct. Though the NFL will likely charge $50 to watch a blacked out game on local TV. And the NFL knows it will get many fans to cough up that kind of money.

  13. Joe Says:

    TampaRob:

    5. No announcement of the inactives. I was in the stadium an hour before gametime and had to find out on ProFootballTalk.com.

    Joe posts inactives. :(

  14. TampaRob Says:

    @ Joe- sorry, your site doesn’t have a mobile-optimized version (at least not that I’ve seen). It hung when trying to load it during the game because of the graphics and images… wifi was really slow in the upper deck. Normally I’m reading your open threads during games and read your site religiously but have to do it from my PC… which, coincidentally, I can do from my house but not the stadium.

  15. Joe Says:

    TampaRob:

    FYI, the Bucs official Twitter feed also posts inactives.

  16. BigMacAttack Says:

    @TampaRob,
    Sorry bout your luck buddy.
    I don’t miss anything at the games. I knew that was Quincy Black as soon as he made the hit. You could hear it echo through the stadium. Maybe its because I sit up high, we can see more. I’ve always enjoyed watching game from high up.

    I don’t do any interactive crap during the game. I watch the game. I can do all the online stuff later. I look at it as though I’m where everyone on line wants to be.

    As for the replay screens, yeah they suck, but we are supposed to get new ones before next season, I think. Surely to be HD with the correct aspect ratio to take full advantage of the camera’s shots.

    If you look for reasons to do something, you will find them. If you look for reasons not to do something, you will find them.

    I feel pretty lucky to even have an NFL team here. If not for that sweetheart stadium deal, we very well could have lost them by now.

    Hockey games are never as good on TV and never will be.

    Attendance is picking up though, as Joe pointed out. You can see easily there are more fans in the stands now than any time during the Raheem Team.

  17. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Joe…a mobile version of the website would rock…so long as there is an option to choose desktop view if we desire. On my tablet, I prefer desktop view myself, but on phones I would think mobile would be better.

    Joe Says:
    November 15th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    OB:

    Joe believes you are correct. Though the NFL will likely charge $50 to watch a blacked out game on local TV. And the NFL knows it will get many fans to cough up that kind of money.

    .

    Here’s the thing…that would be a very bad business decision. Why? Because it doesn’t compete with free, and there are just too many ways to watch the games for free. When you consider the economy…they would need to make the games more affordable to watch in such cases.

    But here’s an idea…make attending home games free, and charge say $20 to watch them at home on pay per view.

    That way, people will pay the $20 because it is more affordable and most people want to basically do the right thing. Hard to say “I would but I can’t afford it” when the excuse is taken away.

    And if people can watch the games for free by actually going to the games…then it will fill up the seats for home games.

    We all know the NFL makes it’s money through television and advertising. The only thing selling tickets does is offset traveling costs for visiting teams and pay stadium staff. Concessions would still make money. Parking would make money.

    Businesses such as sports bars would still make money.

    It’s a win-win.

  18. Ian's Gay Lisp & Ron's Drinking Problem Says:

    @TampaRob <<—– Agree 100% (The NFL is making it less attractive to attend games with their OWN technology that is available).

  19. Pete Dutcher Says:

    On a side note…even though I have bought many tickets to games over the years, I have NEVER been to a Bucs game personally. I live some distance away, and physically I can’t do the trip, spend hours sitting in the stands, and then make the drive back into town. Shoot, by the end of the game I would be unable to drive.

    So when I buy a pair of tickets, I usually give them to my son’s mentor to take my son or give them to family. And even though I do this, I still either listen to the game on the radio or stream it. So in my case, I would pay for the pay-per-view games in a heartbeat if they were priced right.

  20. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Also…would be cool if teams sold the broadcasts of each game on DVD. I would have a massive collection of games and it would offset costs even more for the team.

  21. Sneedy16 Says:

    @Pete Dutcher

    The team owners wouldn’t go for free home games because they make a lot of their own money off the seats at the stadium. It will be hard to balancing it out for just pay per view because too many people will have their hands in the pot and it will cut into networks and the NFL broadcasting profits.

    I see them doing pay per view for blackout games though, but most fans will just stream the game online.

  22. Joe Says:

    Also…would be cool if teams sold the broadcasts of each game on DVD.

    The NFL has all games for the past three years available on Game Rewind, in addition to iTunes.

  23. Buc Fan #238 Says:

    You have to factor in the entire economy, the cost of gas, food, power, water, higher medical, cable, smart phones coupled with job losses and the real estate implosion that took down most people’s asset values and borrowing power.

    In today’s world, there is much, much less disposable income to go around.

    Not just in Tampa or regarding the Bucs, but the entire NFL is facing pressure from fans with a lack of disposable income.

    It was smart of the NFL to implement the 85% rule… however, it should not have to go into effect on Thrusday.

    But I still think that ticket costs, in general, when considering fan needs regarding living expenses, are too high.

    The NFL should allow a pay per view during balcked out games, so at least fans and bars could buy the games at a small price.

  24. Nick2 Says:

    I was at the game last week and it was pretty full except for the upper deck but 4 years of ownership where you spend as little as you can drives fans away. A three game winning streak and one year of spending money unfortunately will not bring back the fans quickly. When you lose customers for any reason they don’t just rush back when you fix the problems. Anyone in customer service knows this. It will take time but they will come back. If the Glazers hadn’t had their heads up their arse the last 4 years and hadn’t hired the cheapest solution (Raheem) we wouldn’t be talking like this. I am amazed Mike Florio just doesn’t get it.

  25. Al Says:

    I’m a season ticket holder for 8 years now and live in South Florida. I try to go to as many games as I can and give away my tickets when I can’t go. To me the stadium experience is one that cannot be matched by computers or TV. There is something about actually being there that touches your very soul. The energy of all those people gathered there screaming their guts out. The passion of the fans rooting for their teams. The unfiltered, raw emotion put on the field by these players. I absolutely love it all. I’ve loved it since I became a fan in 1987 and that love for my team has never dwindled. I understand the economy has struck a mighty blow to the Bay Area, but I sincerely hope we can get back to the glory days of selling out every game and seeing Bucs paraphernalia being sold everywhere. I miss those days, and I hope we can get back there soon. I believe that as long as we keep winning we will get there. This sure is an exciting time to be a Bucs fan!!

  26. SteveK Says:

    I hear ya, Nick2.

    Glazers put together a good start this past offseason, but if they really want to “win”, they will use some of the vacant salary cap to bring in some more impact players.

    Maybe a CB, OT, LB?

    They are rolling in the cash from Man U. Money is no object.

    Hell, the Glazers should really step it up one more time to show the fan faithful they are for real.

    Fortunately, Jeffrey Loria can’t sell our Rays or Bucs to Canada.

  27. OAR Says:

    The team is definitely exciting and entertaining this year! Even my wife is excited about them again. In this horrible economy and on one income, it is hard to go, but we do when we can. We used to be season ticket holders and can definitely say it’s the economy as to why we have’t been season ticket holders the last several years!

  28. 911bucs Says:

    Unfortunetly I no longer live in Florida. I’m able to catch all the Bucs games on Direct TV with the NFL Network package. Do they offer that in Florida? Or would that still be blacked out even on NFL Network? I’m still able to make one Home game a year and theres no comparison to sitting in a bar or at home. Going to the game is hands down the way to go.

  29. buxter Says:

    Bringing the fans back is a process not an event.

    Buc fans are warming back up to the franchise… a large part is having PLAYERS that we actually care about. David, Martin, Barron, Nicks, VJax etc. as opposed to turds like Tanard, K2, Talib, etc.

    Yeah, Schiano is a hard ass, but you have to admire the near term results.

    On a sad note, it’s too bad EG, consummate team guy, is not here to enjoy this year.

    And Joe, when Florio decides pull his head out, it would be bald.

  30. Westcoastbucsfans Says:

    For those wanting a “mobile” version of joebucsfan.com you should download Pulse. I get every article pushed to my phone and am alerted instantly. I read all the JBF articles almost exclusively on my phone and love it.

  31. lightningbuc Says:

    Tampa Rob is right. What happened to the replay reviews being shown on the Jumbotron? They make a big deal out of it, but it never happens.

  32. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    I used to go to Rowdies games when I was a kid, but never been to a Bucs game. It’s just too damn entertaining to watch it at home with all the amenities you could ever want for very little money in comparison. I’ve been a Bucs fan since I was in fifth grade in St Pete and I’ve probably watched every game since about 1982 or thereabouts. I suspect there are lots of Bucs fans who’ve never been to a game…the home television experience is just too competitive.

    And I agree with Joe about the pay-per-view being inevitable for blackouts and the price being as high as the NFL can get the market to bear. Probably between $30 and $50 per game. They know how to make money and they are not into giving discounts. At all.

  33. FloridaGirl Says:

    Lots of things go into why they didn’t sell enough tickets specifically last week against the Chargers. The team is now competitive and is now winning on a regular basis. It’s bringing the fans back in, but it takes some time for the fanbase to forget about the putridness of last year. Bring in a winning opponent and we’ll have enough to air the games. The Chargers are a hot mess right now, and there weren’t that many Chargers fans in the stands last weekend either due to the distance or their own record. Thankfully. I’m a season ticket holder and I love to hit the game in the stands – the energy of the crowd is contagious and you really feel like a part of it. Love my big screen too, but I would never stay home to watch the game if I have a chance to be in the stadium.

  34. TampaRob Says:

    I personally don’t care about the resolution on the video boards. I’m OK with watching the ones we have now– my complaint is about the content. I don’t mind seeing the puff-pieces about players’ personal lives and interests– but not right after a huge play or during a challenge. If I’m going to pay to get a seat I want to know what’s going on in this game- and in others (maybe show Red Zone on the video screens during TV timeouts???). I don’t need fancy animated flags to tell me it’s 4th down. How about a replay of the 3rd down stop??? I want to see field shots, stats, injury updates… I had no idea Wright was injured until I heard the radio feed broadcast in the men’s room.

    I agree with the reader who said hockey is better in person– that’s true… but you also know what’s going on in the game. The TBL do a great job of putting stats up on the board and showing highlights and replay reviews of goals.

  35. Nick2 Says:

    TampaRob totally agree they used to show redzone type highlights on the big boards at least at halftime. Why they don’t now is beyond me.

  36. Mike J Says:

    I have no numbers but I imagine there are a lot of retirees in the immediate region. I can speak from personal experience, as you get older, you are simply more inclined to want to be at home–or many folks are, in any case.
    Up here, the Jags have been able to broadcast several home games, but this place, although smaller in population that the Bay area, has only the one major league team.

  37. sharkcoasttactical.com Says:

    Well written article Joe. I agree 100%.There has been a cultural or paradigm shift concerning how folks like to enjoy the games. Its puzzling how slow the NFL is to realize this change. In addition, the Bucs are losing a generation of fans because the kids cant watch it on TV Also, am I the only one who lives in a town where every bar has a pirated feed? I still don’t know how they do it but it looks just like the real thing. The bars in my town have had the games since the black outs started.

    On another note..can we get more of the Hooters girl from the post below. Dear Baby Jesus Mother Mary of God.

  38. Joe Says:

    sbark:

    Its puzzling how slow the NFL is to realize this change.

    Oh, the NFL is very aware of this. Very much so.

 
 

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