The NFL suspended the antiquated blackout rule for 2015. Regardless of the attendance figures for the first year without it, it would have been difficult to justify bringing it back. Based on attendance numbers from the first season without it, the NFL likely won’t try.
Via SportsBusiness Journal, NFL teams had average attendance of 68,400 during the 2015 regular season. Last year, the average was 68,776. It’s a drop of only 0.5 percent.
The decline would have been even lower but for a 9.9-percent reduction in Tennessee and an 8.1-percent decline in St. Louis.
Amazingly, the Cowboys saw a 1.5-percent increase, even though the team’s record plunged from 12-4 in 2014 to 4-12 in 2015.
All stadiums were at 97.9 percent of total capacity, a healthy percentage for the first year in which the league didn’t refuse to televise home games in the local market if all non-premium seats weren’t sold.
So the blackout rule is dead. And attendance at NFL games remains very much alive — even with staying at home and watching the games on TV an increasingly affordable and enjoyable option.