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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers game was almost blocked out in Milwaukee and Green Bay. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Packers playoff game avoids TV blackout


After the Green Bay Packers squeaked into the NFL playoffs with a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the front office has been in a scramble to sell the available tickets to the wildcard game against the 49ers.

Because Green Bay regular season games are usually sellouts, we here in Wisconsin rarely face the possibility of a TV blockout of the game due to unsold tickets. But, as middle class families struggle to pay the raising costs of season tickets and are forced to purchase a pre-season game, many opted out at purchasing post-season tickets.

"The legend of the waiting list for Packers season tickets in Green Bay has grown over the years. Newborns get put on the list, with parents hoping someday their offspring hits the top of the list," a former co-worker of mine, Frank Schwab, wrote on Wednesday for Yahoo Sports.

"Green Bay has perhaps the best fans in the NFL ... which is why the league should be very worried that the Packers and two other teams are still struggling to sell out their playoff games."

Every Packers regular season home game has been sold out since 1959.

"A quick glance at Ticketmaster on Wednesday afternoon showed the face-value prices for the Packers playoff game ranged from $313 and $102, not counting Ticketmaster fees. If you've attended a NFL game, you know that the cost doesn't end with tickets," Schwab wrote.

"Parking is outrageously and insultingly high at most NFL games. Concessions aren't cheap either. NFL teams have gouged and gouged and gouged, and maybe there's a breaking point."

And there-in lies the issue. The NFL may be out of reach for its fan base.

Where TV stations are concerned, and the advertisers who support the broadcasts, they need a live event like a football game to reach a great number of people at a single time.

The NFL has some good things going for it: Unlike baseball and basketball, there are not more than 100 games in the regular season. Also, for the most part, the NFL has been accessible. Tickets were once affordable, pre-season and practices allowed for even more fans to gain an attachment to "their" team.

A group of businesses, including WITI-TV Fox 6 in Milwaukee and WLUK-TV Fox 11 in Green Bay, ended up purchasing the remaining tickets to keep the TV broadcast on the air in the Milwaukee and Green Bay TV markets.

"WITI-FOX 6 is proud to be one of a limited number of businesses that has stepped up and purchased tickets to ensure that Southeastern Wisconsin will be able to watch the Packers play the 49ers on Sunday, January 6, 2014," read a statement from WITI.

"Many of the tickets FOX 6 purchased will be offered to Wisconsin families of military veterans and Make-A-Wish of Wisconsin. Now that the threat of the blackout is gone, just shy of 1,000,000 people in the FOX 6 viewing area are expected to tune in to the game."

Now all fans, arm-chair quarterbacks and couch potato coaches will be able to watch the game on Sunday.

"This is absolutely a win-win situation for our viewers, our community, and our advertisers," said Chuck Steinmetz, the president and GM of WITI-TV Fox 6.

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: Fox Business Network's Liz Claman will broadcast live from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Claman will interview some of the most notable technology leaders and CEOs from around the globe, including Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai, Clear Channel chairman and CEO Bob Pittman, Intel president Renee James and Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter.

Other notables scheduled to appear are Cox Communications president Pat Esser, Lenovo Americas group president Gerry Smith, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment president Mike Dunn, Dish CEO Joseph Clayton, Qualcomm incoming CEO Steve Mollenkopf and Audi of America president Scott Keogh.

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