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Please Baltimore – don’t let the NFL and Ravens turn you on the Orioles

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Please Baltimore – don’t let the NFL and Ravens turn you on the Orioles

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Drew Forrester

The longer “Opener-Gate” drags on, the more disappointed I am in the Ravens.

I expect the NFL to show their true colors and expose themselves as the greedy stuffed suits that they are, but I’m shocked that Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens have allowed the league to play them like they have this week.

My first reaction to the NFL trying to force the Orioles to move their September 5th home game vs. the White Sox is RIGHT HERE and nothing has changed since I authored that piece on Monday.  If anything, I’m even more convinced that the NFL has created this mess nearly all on their own and, even more bothersome, they’ve tried to get the Ravens to do their dirty work by having the football team put pressure on the baseball team to “do the right thing”.

I can’t afford the Napa Valley bottle of Silver Oak the way Roger Goodell can, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid or naive to what’s really going on here.

This saga over the Ravens opening game in September is all about the NFL and NBC wanting to maximize the amount of money they make on the game.

That’s it.  Nothing else is an issue.  It has nothing to do with the Jewish community in Baltimore, it has nothing to do with the baseball team having a game here and it has nothing to do with the football fans in town “deserving” to have the season opener played in the stadium occupied by the defending Super Bowl champions.

Those are all elements of an argument conjured up by the NFL to take the spotlight off of one simple fact:  By playing the game on Wednesday night in Baltimore – or Tuesday night, even – they stand to generate less money in TV revenue from NBC.

The specifics of how the rates vs. ratings formula are discreet, naturally, but NBC goes out and sells the NFL product based on “expected ratings” and those numbers are derived from gobs and gobs of data they’ve accumulated over the years.  They then lean on the NFL to give them the best possible TV schedule (dates, opponents, etc.) so they can sit in front of the folks at Budweiser and Bridgestone and Toyota and and Wranger and say, “Here are the 20 NBC games in 2013…you’ll be paying us $7.3 million for two 30-second ads in those games and here are the ratings you can expect, starting with that THURSDAY NIGHT season opener that has turned into a rating’s bonanza.”  They’ll then explain that clients are expected to fork over $233,000 (a made-up number) for a 30-second spot in that game because “the data” shows that 18.3 million people watch a Thursday night affair as compared to 14.4 million on a Sunday evening.  In other words, NBC charges $184,000 for a Sunday night commercial but for that special season opening Thursday night contest, they can bilk the advertisers out of $233,000.

That’s good business if you can get it.

But you can’t get that “Thursday night rate” if the game is played on Wednesday night.  Why?  Because that data shows – as most recently as last season when the Giants hosted the opener on a Wednesday evening – that fewer people are tuned in on Wednesday evenings.  So, instead of $233,000 for a commercial, the Wednesday rate is more like $143,000.

And then NBC gets irritated that the NFL is circumventing the contract between the two and, obviously, hurting their ability to generate advertising revenue (which, of course, pays the bill that the NFL sends them) based on the Thursday night game they THOUGHT they were going to have which turned into a Wednesday night affair.

In summary, NBC might only generate $74.3 million in NFL-related revenue this season instead of $73.1 million.  Boy, I wonder which executives will have to take out a second mortgage because of that loss?

All because that petty baseball team in Baltimore wouldn’t just give up their Thursday night home game, right?

Well, that’s what the NFL wants you to believe.  And, I bet, it’s what the Ravens are going to continue to want you to believe as well.  That’s why Steve Bisciotti’s quote from Monday bothered me so much.  You know, the one that ended with him saying, “The Orioles could get this done if they wanted to get it done.”

Wrong, Steve.

You had the sentence right, just had the villains incorrectly portrayed.

“The NFL could get this done if they wanted to get it done.”

There, Mr. B., I fixed that for ya.

The league could just move the game to Wednesday or Tuesday, even, and that would be that.

Oh, and remember the NFL has already tried to use the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, as the “perfect excuse” for not wanting to play on Wednesday in Baltimore.  That theory was debunked in about 8 minutes by folks with the internet – and a brain – who quickly figured out the NFL has never before cared about any Jewish holiday when it comes to matters of scheduling.

No, folks, the game CAN be played on Tuesday or Wednesday in Baltimore and nothing about that would be wrong.

Same game, same hoopla, same chance for the fans to “revel with their championship team”.  If the game gets played on Tuesday or Wednesday in Baltimore, NOTHING at all changes about the celebration and/or the functional aspects of putting on a mammoth event such as the NFL season opener.

Nothing changes.

Except the NFL will hear some squawking from NBC, who won’t be able to get their desired “Thursday night rate” for a Tuesday or Wednesday broadcast.

It’s just greed, people.

That’s all it is.

And there’s also been some smarmy, smart-assness thrown in for good measure by the NFL and Roger Goodell.  I’m hearing he sent a message to the Orioles through a baseball executive that didn’t sit well with the folks at Camden Yards.  It went something like this:  ”You remind the Orioles that no matter what happens here, they’re going to be embarrassed.  If they don’t change the game and the Ravens are forced to go on the road, they stand to receive considerable backlash from the community.  And if they do play that home game on Thursday night and the Ravens play at 7pm on the road somewhere – on that Thursday night – they’ll have no one in the stands in Baltimore to watch the baseball game.”

Talk about bush-league, huh?

That’s your football Commissioner, playing hard-ball, because HE entered into a TV contract and HE promised the network they’d have a Thursday night game to open the season and HE just assumes everyone is going part the seas for him when he says, “get out of our way.”

There’s a solution to all of this and none of it involves the Orioles or White Sox, neither of whom should be forced to alter their September schedule for a football game.

Play the game in Baltimore on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Done deal.

In the meantime, I can’t finish this by reiterating how disappointing it is to see the Ravens adhere to the gang-up-on-the-Orioles mentality that the NFL kick-started on Monday.

This. Is. Not. The. Orioles. Problem.

Period, full stop.

I’m not much for predictions, mind you, but here’s one you can file away for kicks and giggles: There’s a chance the NFL will do the dumb thing and send the Ravens on the road to start the season.  The Orioles, of course, will get hammered for that by the people in town who aren’t sophisticated enough to see how this master plan has been drawn up by the NFL.  The Birds will get unfair criticism and lots of “those clowns just don’t get it” commentary from now until the football season begins.  Well – IF that happens — IF that happens — don’t be surprised if sometime in mid August the Orioles announce they have decided to move the Thursday, September 5th start date to 3:05 pm.  They’ll reach out to the White Sox and explain – like the NFL said way back in March – that “no one is going to come to the baseball game on September 5th if the Orioles are playing at the same time as the Ravens.”  They’ll slide the White Sox a $40,000 check for being nice, they’ll play the game at 3:05 pm, and then make it a point to remind their fans how “PR minded” they’re being by allowing them to watch baseball and then get home in time to watch their beloved Ravens kick off the season in (insert city here).

Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Yes, it would.

Would it also be justified?

Yes, maybe it would.

 

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