NFL Wire News

NFL removes blackout policy for 2015


The NFL announced two significant broadcasting changes on Monday, removing the controversial policy of local TV blackouts and declaring that one of its London games will be streamed digitally outside the local markets.

The lift of blackouts in 2015 is a one-year trial as the NFL determines whether it still needs the threat of blackouts to sell out stadiums.

The rule, which states that games not sold out 72 hours before kickoff will not be aired in local markets, was instituted in the 1970s to promote ticket sales.

In 2010, there were 26 blackouts. But, in 2012, the league eased restrictions for ticket sales, and teams such as the San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found corporate ticket buyers to help sell out the stadiums and keep their games on local TV.

Just 5 percent of games have been blacked out in the 2010s, the league said. There were just two blackouts in 2013 and none in 2014.

The rule has been criticized over the last couple of decades, and the Federal Communications Commission last year lifted its rule, although the NFL retained the right to impose blackouts through its TV contracts.

Meanwhile, the NFL is expanding its use of online broadcasting by planning to air the London game on Oct. 25 between the Jaguars and Bills via digital media to a worldwide audience. It will be the first NFL game streamed digitally.

The game will still be broadcast on local TV in the teams’ home markets.

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