NFL Ends Blackout Rule for 2015 Season
The NFL has fought to hold on to a 30-year old rule that blacked out games in markets where games were not sold out. A recent decision from the FCC has eliminated these blackouts, and NFL fans must understand how this ruling changes the way that they watch their football.
#1: The Original Rule
The original rule stated that games had to be 85% sold out within 72 hours of a game to be televised in the local market. Teams that were struggling often had a hard time selling tickets, and local fans would miss their games every week. Fans got used to watching other teams play, and the team would lose revenue. The rule was intended to force fans to go to the games because they could not watch them on TV. This rule has gotten in the way of fans enjoying games in recent years because going to a game has become so expensive.
#2: The Public Backlash
Public backlash against the NFL has grown over the years with fear of concussions growing. The NFL players were locked out by the owners as both sides tried to decide how to divide $9 billion in revenue, and fans were left with a bad taste in their mouths during a recession. The public wants to watch its football, and it has seen lawsuits against the NFL claiming that it is a monopoly. The NFL has not been taken down by an antitrust lawsuit, but divisions of government have been able to take action against the league.
#3: New Action
Fans who are struggling financially are no longer willing to go to games because the price is so high. Teams are charging record prices for PSLs that will allow fans the right to buy their season tickets in new stadiums. This is yet another cog in the machine that fans do not appreciate, and the FCC wanted to take action to allow fans to watch games.
#4: The Ruling
The ruling against the NFL was spearheaded by the FCC, and they looked to complete lift the rule. The NFL fought against the change in the rule because they claimed it would hurt their business model. The FCC was not convinced of such an argument, and they ruled to get rid of blackouts for the 2015-16 football season. This immediately changes the way that all games are broadcast.
#5: Changes For Fans
People who are not fans of their local team will need to turn to the RedZone Channel to see their games, or they will need to get a full NFL TV package to watch the games they want. Local fans can count on their games being broadcast on local TV, and the NFL will have to wait to see if people stop going to games.
#6: The Hardcore Contingent
The NFL is in a period of plateauing. They are learning that their hardcore fan base will come to the games, and they are learning that casual fans will watch the games at home. The league will likely make a push to sell more season passes for TV packages, and they will still sell out games for teams that are very good. The success of a team often dictates the attendance they will get, and this rule may push teams to work harder to make their teams better.
The FCC has changed the NFL TV landscape. People who grew up with blackouts can now live in a world where they can watch their favorite team on TV even if that team is not good enough to draw a sellout.