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The Indiana Pacers’ television affiliate is paying to encourage Pacer fans to see games live

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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These things won't show up in your living room (Getty Images)

The Indiana Pacers have been the NBA’s best team from the outset of the regular season, running up 17 wins in 19 tries as the team attempts to rest up in time for its showdown with the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

That game will be played in Texas, which means scores of local Indiana fans will have to line up in front of their television sets to check the action. And with both high definition receivers and large TVs becoming cheaper and cheaper, most will be treated to a fantastic experience in 1080i from FOX Sports Indiana, one that in a few ways rivals or even betters the live experience of taking the games in.

The Pacers have noticed this, no doubt, because the team is ranked 18th in total attendance this season – partially the fault of the smallish (but fantastic) Bankers Life Fieldhouse that they play in, but mostly because going to an actual game can be a pretty expensive experience. Ratings have shot way up for the Pacers, though, which is why FOX has decided to give a little back to a Pacers team that has spent quite a bit to vault to the top of the league.

FOX Sports Indiana will pay the online fees to any home ticket bought for 2013-14 Pacer games from now until the end of the calendar year. This news was brought to us by Tom Lewis at Indy Cornrows, and explained to us by the Pacers’ official site:

But to further entice faithful television viewers to also experience the excitement of a Pacers’ game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, FOX Sports Indiana announced today it is presenting Zero Fees until 2014.

That means Pacers fans will pay zero online fees when buying tickets this month at Pacers.com/ZeroFees for all remaining 2013-14 home games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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"The Pacers are off to a tremendous start," said Jack Donovan, General Manager and Senior Vice President of FOX Sports Indiana. "Fans are watching in big numbers, and we want to help ensure those fans have the opportunity to experience a Pacers game live this season and pack Bankers Life Fieldhouse."

Though I live in Indiana, I personally am not a Pacer fan – but as someone who has gone to and covered games at the Fieldhouse I can tell you that seeing a game there is a fantastic experience. Whether it’s a middling Pacer team from years past, the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, or this championship-level Pacer team. And though results may vary for teams that play in larger towns, my family of four and I proved last spring that you can have a great time at a Pacer game at an affordable rate.

With that in place, and as someone who was just hooked up to his first hi-def receiver earlier this week, I can understand not wanting to leave the couch. Lewis, over at Indy Cornrows, detailed the recent ratings jump:

On Wednesday, FSI reported a 113 percent ratings increase over a year ago with the best ratings in November since 2005. Yep, the Pacers are back and the fans are following close behind. The most stunning not in FSI's report is that the Nov. 27 game at Charlotte was the highest-rated (6.45) regular season game on FOX Sports Indiana since April 20, 2005 (6.52, season finale, vs. Chicago).

Wait, wha? AT CHARLOTTE WAS THE HIGHEST-RATED GAME SINCE 2005!

That Chicago game was probably even an outlier, as it stood as Reggie Miller’s last home regular season game as a member of the Pacers.

This is a great team, FOX Sports Indiana covers it expertly, and we understand the hesitation when deciding to stay at home. Still, this is a pretty interesting win-win-win for both the station, the team and potential in-person Pacer fans. They should take advantage.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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