The ability of teams to avoid blackouts by reducing the percentage of non-premium ticket sales from 100 percent to as low as 85 percent comes with crater-sized caveats.
For starters, the percentage can’t be set on a week-by-week basis, with the limit staying at 100 percent when facing a team like the Steelers and dropping to 85 percent when a less popular team comes to town.
Then there’s problem of guessing too low. If a franchise takes advantage of the ability to drop the limit to 85 percent, every ticket sold above that amount is subject to an increased contribution to the visiting-team pool. Specifically, the amount jumps from 34 cents on the dollar to 50.
Unfortunately for the teams that may need to reduce their magic number from 100 percent, the decision must be made soon. As in this week. As in, according to Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News, by Sunday, July 15.
The Chargers and Colts have said they won’t take advantage of the new rule. Other teams that may consider it include the Bills, Dolphins, Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Rams.
In making the decision, each team must look at its schedule and attempt to come up with a frank assessment as to the anticipated ability to move tickets early in the season and, if the team struggles, late in the campaign.
It won’t be an easy decision, especially since the mere existence of the relaxed rule will make fans and media more inclined to demand that teams do whatever they have to do to ensure that all games are televised.