It became apparent earlier this year that ticket sales weren't moving as the Cincinnati Bengals had wanted. Instead of facing the grim reality that several games would be blacked out on local television, the Bengals elected to take the 85 percent threshold option. This means that any game that sells at 85 percent capacity may have the television blackout lifted locally.
Now under normal circumstances, only 34 percent of a team's ticket revenue is shared with the rest of the league. When a team lowers their capacity using the 85 percent capacity threshold, the split evens out at 50-50. And according to the calculations of the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Cincinnati Bengals are losing (roughly) $19,000 per game.
If we assume that the bulk of unsold seats are non-premium seats, the Bengals have topped 85 percent by a total of 5,255 seats. That gives them roughly $357,000 in revenue for ticket sales beyond 85 percent. Because they’re using the new lower standard to avoid blackouts, they have to share half of that, rather than the 34 percent in local ticket revenue that teams typically share, according to SB Nation.
Using those rough calculations, the lower blackout standard has cost the Bengals only about $57,000 so far this season to get three games on TV that otherwise wouldn't have been shown. If that’s even close to right, it’s well worth it in TV exposure, marketing and public relations.
Per Bengals.com, the stadium capacity for Paul Brown Stadium is 65,515. Cincinnati has yet to reach a sellout for any of their home games, and have even failed to reach the 90 percent bracket in either game.
|Week||Opponent||Paid Attendance||Pct. of Capacity|
Cincinnati currently ranked No. 28 in attendance in the NFL with an average 57,456. They rank No. 29 in filling 87.7 percent of capacity (NOTE: It's more like 30th because the San Francisco 49ers attendance figures aren't included.)
The Bengals have sold
out enough tickets to lift the television blackout in 14 consecutive regular season and postseason home games. The last television blackout was Nov. 25, 2012 when the Bengals hosted Oakland. Prior to that, Cincinnati went through an 11-game stretch where 10 games were blacked out from the middle of 2010 into 2011; they've since ended up selling out in all but two games in 2012 and every game in 2013.