Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Oct 2005

Dr. Z: No More DirecTV Blackouts

Great news for my fellow Sunday Ticket subscribers: Beginning in 2006, DirecTV will be permitted to show games carried by the local affiliate on its Sunday Ticket channels. That means if your local affiliate switches away from the game you were watching, you'll still be able to see it on Sunday Ticket. It should also solve problems like the one I had in Chicago on Sunday: Patriots-Broncos was on the local CBS affiliate, which means Sunday Ticket should have blacked out Patriots-Broncos and given us Raiders-Chargers and Jets-Bills. Instead, it blacked out Raiders-Chargers. So I had Patriots-Broncos on two channels and Raiders-Chargers on zero. I called DirecTV multiple times but couldn't get anyone on the phone who understood the problem. Did anyone else in Chicago notice this?

Dr. Z also discusses coaches who overuse their running backs, his problem with ABC's coverage of Colts-Rams, and the college basketball player who wants the right to choose his own shoes.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 20 Oct 2005

14 comments, Last at 21 Oct 2005, 3:12pm by Captain Killjoy


by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 2:19pm

Sadly, I think the 87th touchdown or whatever it was was bigger news than the game itself because number of raw touchdowns is a fantasy stat. Sportswriters are starting to react to the fact that a lot of football fans also play fantasy football, and a growing number of "fans" care ONLY about fantasy, not the actual games. Who cares about the drama of the Rams playing their hearts out agains undefeated Indy on behalf of their ailing coach, only to see victory plucked away from them by a devastating injury to their starting QB, when a lot of fans mainly cared about the game because they'd drafted Harrison or Manning highly on their fantasy team and were wondering when that was going to pay off?

by Astro Boy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 3:10pm


Yeah, if you talk to DirecTV about a game that’s currently blacked out for no good reason, you may as well be talking to a wall. Fortunately, they do improve some of the blackout policies if enough people complain. If it’s any consolation, the MLB package is a lot worse. The one thing they did improve was mercifully dropping the policy of arbitrarily blacking out most games on most Wednesdays. Still, it's pretty bad with random blackouts, and even when games are on, you might be stuck with the opposing team's lackluster broadcast crew.

I live in Montana, and fortunately, we were able to convince the DirecTV affiliate to give us the network feeds from the East and West Coasts because our antenna reception is pretty marginal. Still, the NE/Den game was blacked out for us because it was broadcast locally. Meanwhile, CBS East had the Jets/Bills and CBS West had Chargers/Raiders, so we had to break out the rabbit ears and collectively stamp on the floor when the picture got bad.

At least we had something; the Week 2 game between Cincy and Minnesota was completely unavailable here. A large bunch of Minnesota fans showed up at a sports bar where some friends of mine work, and they were livid about this. Of course seeing that game probably would have just made them angrier.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 3:14pm

I don't think fantasy football had anything to do with the celebration over TD #87. I think it has more to do with sports broadcasts (Espicially ESPN)'s obession with records and arbirtary numbers.

by Eric (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 3:38pm

Other good news from DirecTV: I received a letter in the mail the other day regarding the SuperFan package (to which I am a subscriber). Since the rollout of this package at the beginning of this season was filled with unpleasant setbacks, they've apparently decided to credit each subscriber for next year's SuperFan package. Having most games in HD is well worth the price of admission, and that's not the part of the package they screwed up. Seems like good news to me. Anybody elese get this letter?

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 5:20pm

"In the play or out of the play, or just trying to protect himself, as Bulger was, it doesn't matter, the way the rules are written. If a pass-rusher barely brushes the QB a fraction of a second late, it's guaranteed to draw a flag. But on a pick, the quarterback is fair game anywhere on the field."

The QB is protected on a pick. I have seen several penalties this year for hitting a QB after a pick. In this case Bulger was trying to make a tackle and the hit was fair. It's not the Colts fault the Rams failed to drill it in to their QB not to try to make a play after a pick.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 6:23pm

No satellite for me, so I don't have that DirecTV problem, but cable was no better when I had ESPN GamePlan. It didn't work the first week I had it. I lived in Seattle and tried to turn on the Iowa-Buffalo game (it was the first week and I was just testing the system). I couldn't get it called, and was told that's because it was blacked out locally. I assure you that game was not on local TV. I eventually got somebody that knew what they were talking about and got my problem fixed, but I had to call back way later in teh day.

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 6:58pm

Into their bye and the Pats have been on free TV locally in San Diego five of their first six games. Yes, I should be happy, but what that means is that so far I've paid $200 to watch Duane Starks starring in 13 Things to do When You're Dead in Denver.

I know. I know. Don't cry for me, Argentina.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 7:47pm

Here in Buffalo, Adelphia is testing a new feature where you can enter your fantasy team and you'll have stats updated Sunday and Monday night for them. This feature apparently has the ability to show you every single play involving these players "on demand". The ad on the radio was directed at fantasy football fans but it was pointed out that any diehard could make use of it. So the media is indeed picking up on the fantasy football craze.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Thu, 10/20/2005 - 10:14pm

In this case Bulger was trying to make a tackle and the hit was fair. It’s not the Colts fault the Rams failed to drill it in to their QB not to try to make a play after a pick.

The best part about that play was seeing the replays show, over and over again, Bulger grimacing in pain as he rolled over after the initial contact only to be held down by the defender pushing on his newly injured shoulder. Ouch.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 7:54am

Does this mean that if a game is moved due to a hurricane, like tonight's KC/MIA game, that it will be shown on Direct TV? Or is that just wishful thinking?

by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 9:27am

I've always like the ombudsman part of Z. This is probably the sixth time I've read about him calling direct TV to complain or to get answers. And the league office, and the director of officials, and.....

How many other journalists would even bother?

by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:17pm

Props to Dr Z for complaining about the stupid blackout policies; too bad it's too late to do anything about tonight's game.

As for the Colts-Rams: I think he's a little off on the expected outcome of the game even if Bulger stays in. 1st, Bulger threw the INT. Regardless of the injury, it seems likely the Colts would have gotten a TD after that turnover, so they would have been back w/in 10. Indy's come back from worse, against better defenses (TB, anyone?). With 9:44 left in the half and the Colts getting the ball to start the 2nd half, even 10 pts down and Bulger able to play, I'd still pick the Colts to win (no, I'm not a Colt fan). Yeah, it would have been a better game (I went to bed in the 3rd qtr), but the outcome would have been the same except maybe if you had the Rams and the points...

It's not just fantasy players who don't care about the actual winners...

by MDS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:49pm

I agree with dryheat in his praise of Dr. Z and MRH in his assessment of what Colts-Rams would have looked like if Bulger had stayed in. (And I just looked at that sentence and noticed I'm assuming dryheat and MRH are men. If you're among our distaff readership, my apologies.)

by Captain Killjoy (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 3:12pm

Yes, yes, my minions are doing my bidding. Yes.

Seriously, We're talking about one of the most successful QB-WR tandems in NFL history.

Every Manning or Harrison TD matters in fantasy football. This one mattered a bit more. If numbers don't matter, we shouldn't keep score or keep track of stats. That train has left the station.

Arbitrary numbers? You could be Captain Killjoy one day. Keep chopping people down!