Though the NFL has consistently said that it won’t lift the rule preventing games that aren’t sold out from being televised in the local market, the league has made a major concession in this regard.
All blacked out games will be available in the local markets on a tape-delayed basis, via NFL.com.
The free “re-broadcasts” (as the league is calling them) will be accessible at midnight on the day of the game, and they will remain available for 72 hours.
The re-broadcasts will not be available during the Monday Night Football broadcast.
Also, the Red Zone Channel on DirecTV and the similar NFL RedZone product that has been purchased by Dish Network, Comcast, and other providers will include look-ins featuring the blacked-out games. This means that folks who have the Red Zone Channel or NFL RedZone in the markets where the games won’t be shown will be able to see snippets of the game long before midnight.
“We understand that the economy is limiting some families and corporations from buying as many game tickets as they had previously,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a release. “These free re-broadcasts on NFL.com will allow our fans that can’t get to a blacked-out game an opportunity to see the entire game.”
Though some will still claim that the NFL should remove the blackout rule entirely, the significance of this concession should not be underestimated. The league zealously guards its game footage; the fact that the NFL is willing to re-broadcast the blacked-out games via NFL.com at no charge represents an unprecedented gesture.
Meanwhile, we predict that a rash of fans in the blacked-out markets will be avoiding all forms of media until midnight, at which time they can watch the game involving the home team as if it’s happening live.