NFLPA supports blackout rule, too

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The NFL and the NFLPA currently don’t agree on very much.  Recently, they’ve come together on a topic that remains largely unpopular among the league’s fan base.

According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the NFLPA quietly sent a letter to the FCC in July opposing the proposed elimination of the blackout rule.  The correspondence came with no press release or other comment, including no comment in response to Kaplan’s request for comment.

The AFL-CIO sent a letter opposing the elimination of the rule last week, along with a press release.

NFLPA public policy counsel Joe Briggs wrote in July that elimination of the blackout rule, which blocks local broadcast of home games if the local stadium isn’t sold out within 72 hours of kickoff, “will threaten the continued broadcast of NFL games on free, over-the-air television, hurting football fans and threatening the business model that has made NFL games so popular and widely viewed.”

The last part of the sentence proves that, even without the blackout rule, the games will remain on free, over-the-air television.  That’s what “has made NFL games so popular and widely viewed.”  Without free, over-the-air broadcasts, games become less widely viewed and the sport becomes less popular.

But still the notion persists that elimination of the blackout rule will “threaten the continued broadcast of NFL games on free, over-the-air television.”  We’ve asked the league office to help us better understand how the dominoes fall in a way that starts with the elimination of the blackout rule forcing free, over-the-air broadcast of games that haven’t been sold out and ends with the NFL fleeing from free, over-the-air broadcasts, presumably to a cable or pay-per-view model.

It appears that the NFLPA has opted to reluctantly cooperate with the effort, even if the NFLPA’s position isn’t as zealous and public as the league had hoped.  Per Kaplan, Sports Fan Coalition chairman David Goodfriend said in 2012 that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Goodfriend that the league had asked the NFLPA to support the blackout rule, and that Smith had declined.  Asked by Kaplan whether the NFL had pushed for the NFLPA to support the cause, the league office sent an email that didn’t really address the question asked.

And so the question remains whether an eradication of the blackout rule will result in million of fans who watch TV only through the signals coming through the airwaves at no cost losing access to the nation’s most popular sport.  Without more information, it’s not unfair to assume that the NFL and the NFLPA have opted to huff and puff, knowing that ultimately no one’s TV antenna will be blown off the roof.

17 responses to “NFLPA supports blackout rule, too

  1. If DeMaurice Smith can be on the wrong side of an issue, he is.

    Roger tells him to screw the working man, and he does. CBA to TV he always delivers.

  2. I get why they have the Blackout rule but I hate it. Most of us working stiffs can’t afford to go to many games anymore especially for those married with children who might want to go too. The fans keep getting gouged for frankly a game that often times is a bit on the dull side. I widely prefer the NFL to college football as far as how the game is played, but when you see the wild atmosphere at a college game and then consider the largely corporate atmosphere that now plagues NFL stadiums, the best seat is at home.

  3. If the NFL wants public funding for their stadiums then there should be no blackouts. It’s hypocritical to take money from taxpayers then screw them because the franchise is inept from viewing the games.

    The NFL wants their cake and to eat it too.

  4. How in the world did 951 people vote no? I can only assume they mis-read the question.

    What I don’t understand is, are there actually people that say, “Since the game will likely be blacked out, I think I’ll just buy some tickets and go to it.”

  5. Glad the AFL-CIO could weigh in on this matter. Labor unions have outlived their usefulness and played a huge role in the demise of the US economy!

  6. True example that the NFL will bite off it’s nose to spite it’s face. makes zero sense. Do you really think the majority of your fan base would pay to watch NFL if you put all games on pay channels? Not a chance. I’m a die hard football fan and there’s no way in you know where that I’ll pay to watch football. My tax money goes to paying the stadium for the Bengals already and there should be no reason why I can’t watch every single game in case I can’t get a ticket. Go ahead and try it NFL. See what happens to your money printing machine. It’ll break and fast.

  7. Is thus joe Briggs that guy from Stripes that joined up before he was drafted? … There was one?

  8. I’m sorry, “free over the air television”? Last I checked I pay a DirecTV bill every month. TV certainly isn’t “free”.

  9. I call BS. If MLB, the NHL and NBA can get by with smaller venues, smaller revenues, smaller TV deals, less public funding, and less Ad dollars without blackouts, the NFL certainly can.

  10. John McCain has the right idea on this one: if there is 1c of public money involved in building the stadium/facility in question, then the games can’t be blacked out, since the public paid for the venue. If the owner paid 100% for his building himself, then perhaps he/the league has the right to withhold broadcasts. But if you and I helped pay for it – No Way.

  11. If there is public money then no blackouts. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, NFL. Okay, I’ll concede this, if an NFL stadium is more than 20% of public funds then no blackout rule. AT&T Stadium (formerly known as Cowboys Stadium) was built with 28.3% of public funds, but most stadiums are built with far more than that. Simply put, if you want the public to not only pay for the stadium, but as we experienced recently in Cleveland want us to pay for the renovations & upkeep of the stadium as well then we deserve to watch the game on free TV.

    You can’t have it both ways, NFL.

  12. The idea that the blackout rule assures games remain free on over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts is merely a sham to stop the FCC from acting on the rule, as the FCC’s mandate is to assure equal access to OTA broadcasts for everyone. But it’s a BIG LIE which is why Goddell will never discuss it directly to the media.

    When PPV can offer more money than OTA, they’ll do it. With most viewers on CATV or SAT they already HAVE a PPV-model in place. The next step is expanding the number of NFL Network channels, then putting more games on the NFL Network, resulting in upping the subscriber fees for that channel.

  13. The blackout rule should be removed because it doesnt lead to an increase in ticket sales which is its purpose. I dont live in a blackout area (outside of 125 miles from the Bay Area) so I’m not affected these days. I did however live in the LA area in the 80’s and 90’s (when they still had teams), but we still never went to a game beacuse of a blackout (and they happened all the time in LA). What we did do was go to a bar or sports bar and caught the game there, but never even thought of buying tickets. Why would you. Better view, service, and food at the sports bar, and at far better prices!!! And no need to del with tryig to get out of the Colesium at the end of the game!!!

  14. The NFLPA wants to preserve the “business model” of the NFL. I can’t stop laughing. This same business model that they’ve tried to destroy themselves? Hysterical

  15. I don’t get how they say it’s free. The NFL and thus it’s teams have been paid for their games to be aired on tv. The blackout does not encourage any additional seat sales with the exception of those made by the team’s themselves to buy up spare seats to avoid this stupid blackout clause to begin with. It’s a dated policy that was from a time where sports teams based their revenues off of gate receipts and not from TV deals. That has obviously changed and is why this needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

  16. Arizona and San Diego struggle to sell home playoff tickets.

    They don’t deserve to watch their teams play.

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