To increase the chances of Bengals home games being available on live TV in the Cincinnati home market this season, the club is accepting an NFL option to have blackouts lifted when 85 percent of non-premium tickets at Paul Brown Stadium are sold.
"The thought process is simple -- we want the games sold out for local TV so as many fans as possible can watch," said Andrew Brown, Bengals director of ticket sales. "Having games on TV locally does not benefit the club financially, but it’s in the best interest of the fan base, and we believe it’s in the club’s best interest as well to make local broadcasts more achievable."
Clubs must accept or decline the option for the full season, so the 85 percent rule will be in effect for all eight home games.
"We’re proud to be one of only five teams in the playoffs each of the last three years," Brown said, "but the fact is that sales are not as strong to date as we’d like. Even under the 85 percent plan, we will need a strong sales from this point to get games on TV. But the option is helpful, and we are continuing with a maximum sales effort.
"It’s evident around town that fans are excited by this year’s team," Brown continued, "but now we just need to see that excitement translate into ticket sales."
The full PBS capacity of 55,449 for non-premium seats will remain available for sale, but under the option, the Bengals agree to accept a decreased share of revenue should sales go beyond the 85 percent level. Club seats and suite seats are not factored into consideration for local TV coverage.
The home opener is against Atlanta on Sept. 14, with the Bengals looking for a 10th straight regular-season home win, which would tie a franchise record set in 1988-89. The strongest ticket sales to date have been for Dec. 7 vs. Pittsburgh and for Monday night, Dec. 22, vs. defending AFC champion, Denver.
NFL rules continue to mandate that for blackouts to be lifted, games must meet sellout requirements 72 hours before kickoff. The deadline for the Atlanta game will be 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.
The Bengals home market covers the metro areas of Cincinnati, Dayton, and Lexington, Ky.