When the NFL “suspended” the controversial blackout rule in 2015, the unspoken message was that it’s never coming back.
Officially, it’s not coming back in 2016.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that owners voted last week to extend the suspension by another year. Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that the NFL wants to give it another year before making a decision on whether to scrap or reinstate the rule that requires all non-premium seats to be sold within 72 hours of kickoff, with an increasing number of exceptions and limitations.
Kaplan points out that there were no blackouts in 2014, and only two in 2013. In 2015, average attendance dropped only 0.5 percent.
No matter what happens in 2016 or beyond, it would be incredibly unpopular for the NFL to resurrect the policy. Fans would hate it, the media would kill it, and (more importantly) politicians would resume rattling the various swords that periodically get rattled whenever the NFL does something Congress doesn’t like.
So, basically, a clumsy P.R. effort that enlisted (i.e., paid) Lynn Swann to help blame efforts to scrap the blackout rule on shadowy “Pay-TV lobbyists” and that generated 20,000 supporters for keeping the blackout rule ended up being a waste of however much money the NFL spent to fund it.