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NFL Blackout Rules Could be Ending Soon

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The NFL's Blackout Policy requires teams to sell out at least 85 percent of game tickets to avoid a blackout in their local TV market.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the first-round of the 2014 NFL playoffs began, the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts were all set to host a playoff game.

However, because none of those games had sold out by the deadline, all three games were set to be blacked out in local markets. A furious rally by all three franchises to get corporate sponsors and others to buyout the remaining tickets helped ensure all three games were broadcasted locally.

Had those not been playoff games though, they probably would have suffered the same fate so many games and fans before them had suffered.

The NFL's Blackout Policy requires teams to sell out at least 85 percent of game tickets to avoid a blackout in their local TV market.

That could be changing very soon, as the Federal Communications Commission is pushing to end the league's policy that requires teams to blackout their home games if they haven't sold out.

Per USA today Sports:

A commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission says it's time to repeal NFL television blackout rules.

Ajit Pai says the FCC needs to "be on the side of sports fans" regarding league rules that prevent games that are not sold out from being broadcast in the home team's market.

Pai is one of five FCC commissioners, and was in Buffalo on Tuesday to make the announcement alongside congressman Brian Higgins, who has urged the FCC to change the rules. The FCC has spent the past year seeking public input regarding blackout regulations.

This has been in the works for a while now. Ending NFL blackouts has picked up steam over the past year. Here's a report from January on the FCC potentially ending the blackout policy.

FCC commissioners have moved to begin collecting comments on the potential elimination of the nearly 40-year-old rule that was originally meant to ensure broadcasts of sports games did not hurt local ticket sales.

The sports blackout rules have faced mounting criticism in recent years that they are outdated. A group called the Sports Fans Coalition, which received backing from Verizon and Time Warner Cable, petitioned the FCC in 2011 to end the rules and received support from several consumer interest groups.