NFL will not have local TV blackouts in 2015


The NFL’s longstanding blackout policy appears to be a thing of the past.

The league announced today that there will be no local TV blackouts for the 2015 season. That means every game will be televised in its local market, regardless of how many tickets are sold.

For decades, the NFL has insisted that it had to protect its ticket sales by enforcing the blackout rule, which meant that fans could only watch their local teams’ home games if the game sold out 72 hours before kickoff. But last year the Federal Communications Commission took a stand against the blackout rule, and there were no blackouts in 2014.

Now it appears that there may never be a blackout again. More and more, the NFL is a television sport, and the fans expect to be able to see their teams on TV. That will be the case this year regardless of how many fans are watching the game inside the stadium.

82 responses to “NFL will not have local TV blackouts in 2015

  1. I think the business model needed to change and this will end up a good thing for the NFL. Most times I do not want the government involved but when you enjoy an antitrust excemption you don’t get to gripe about the feds in your biz

  2. Does this mean every market will get 2 games for each network too? cause the rule that said you can only see your home team and no other game before or after (whichever apply’s)on that network is soooooooooooo stupid too.

  3. flaccodelic | Mar 23, 2015, 3:22 PM EDT
    At last! The Jacksonville Jaguars have finally made an impact on the NFL.
    Jaguars have not had a local TV blackout since December 13, 2009

  4. The class action lawsuit against charging for Sunday Ticket and Season Pass packaging is the one I’m looking most forward to. Let me buy the games I want.

  5. Many times at Camaro-head stadium, I’ve had my own beer vendor. Threats of blackouts every year except the tickets are bought by the local TV station….so they can keep the advertising $$.

    This will be interesting in KC – especially with the Royals playing well.

  6. It’s always best to act before the government acts for you, and it’s clear that the government was leaning towards permanently disallowing blackouts. This way the league can still exert some control over how the policy is carried out, and they can claim they did it for the fans. Had they waited, it would have been clear that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards a better treatment of their fans. That would have been especially egregious considering the fact that so many stadiums have been partially funded or subsidized by taxpayer money.

  7. Fox 9 and it’s sponsors in the Twin Cities must be pleased that they won’t have to buy thousands of Vikings tickets every Thursday to avoid blackouts this fall.

  8. Now prices will go up. Some teams might have kept prices down to get their games on TV.

  9. Worst rule ever….if fans don’t show up to the game, let’s further isolate the base by showing other teams locally…that’ll force them spend $140/ticket.

    Kudos NFL

  10. The Blackout Rule was implemented due to Congressional intervention in 1973 by passing Public Law 93-107, which eliminated the blackout of games in the home market so long as the game was sold out by 72 hours before game time.

    Previous to 1973, *all* games were blacked out on local television by the NFL, regardless if they were sold out. Even if it was a championship game or the Super Bowl.

    This law was passed quickly by both houses, and signed by the POTUS as soon as it landed on his desk. Pres. Nixon and many members of Congress were huge football fans, and were unable to watch their home team play their first playoff game in over 20 years.

    The FCC’s repeal of the Blackout Rule is largely symbolic. The NFL can still enforce its blackout policies on a contractual basis with television networks, stations, and service providers.

    In other words, we are heading for a situation much like the NBA or the Final Four: it’s televised, but it’s not broadcasted. If you’re not paying money for the cable or satellite service, you won’t watch the game.

    It is not a coincidence that the Cardinals/Panthers playoff game was the first in NFL history not to be broadcasted.

  11. Let’s hope that extends to the UK too. I’m fed up with having to stream games because the chosen provider, Sky Sports, is running games on Sunday’s over here. Hell they even blackout Redzone when a London game is being played!

    We lose ALL playoff games including the Super Bowl to blackout (even though it’s on FTA) plus 2 games on Sunday despite paying for Gamepass! I mean c’mon man! Streaming illegally works so what is the point?

  12. That’s awesome for the elderly people that can’t get to the games, that used to go to the games and support the team’s, kudos to the NFL it’s about time.

  13. Good. I’ve never been able to reconcile how they use tax money to build those stadiums but are non profits so they dont pay any taxes back ; then they make you have to pay exhorbitant ticket prices for the team you likely had no say in bringing or choosing under threat of not being able to watch them. The NFL has waaaaaaaaaaaay too much power in America. Goodell can get more done than the President can.

  14. As much many as municipalities are charged for the building of stadiums, tickets, and merchandise, the blackout rule should have been abolished long ago.

  15. Why use Arrowhead as the pic here? Arrowhead always sells out, when is the last time Arrowhead had a blackout anyways?

    Maybe i’m nitpicking, but a picture of a certain stadium that uses tarps to cover seats so they don’t have to “sell” them makes more sense. Arrowhead is actually an example of a smaller market having an excellent local following and almost always filling the stadium.


  16. I’m betting that this is about relocation of 1 or 2 teams to Los Angeles. As the LA drumbeat gets louder, it’s going to be harder and harder for the Rams, Chargers and/or Raiders to sell out. You’ll notice they only did it for the one season.

    That said, I’m very happy this is being taken off the table, even if it’s for one season and not for the right reason.

  17. They should get rid of the alternating double header each week as well. Let CBS and FOX both show games at 1pm and 4pm, no matter when the local team plays.

  18. There is no free lunch. Somewhere NFL lawyers are trying to write “PPV coming to a TV near you”, in the smallest font possible.

  19. flaccodelic says:
    At last! The Jacksonville Jaguars have finally made an impact on the NFL.

    Shows how much you know. The Jags haven’t had a game blacked out in over five years, Brianiac.

  20. Why use Arrowhead as the pic here? Arrowhead always sells out, when is the last time Arrowhead had a blackout anyways?

    Maybe i’m nitpicking, but a picture of a certain stadium that uses tarps to cover seats so they don’t have to “sell” them makes more sense. Arrowhead is actually an example of a smaller market having an excellent local following and almost always filling the stadium.

    Was going to say the exact same thing. Just another show of how against the Chiefs the league is in ways. Almost no coverage on any station.

    Then you talk about stadiums not selling out you use one that hasn’t had an issue since the 90s. You want to use an AFC West team? Go ahead. San Diego and Oakland are in a scramble all most every week to find a buyer for their last few thousand seats.

  21. I didn’t realize that Mike Brown (Bengals owner) had that much influence with Goodell.

    While I enjoy going to a game occasionally, I much more enjoy sitting in my leather Lazy-boy an watching the game on my big screen TV where I get to see all of the replays, etc. without breaking the piggy bank.

    Plus the food and drink at my house isn’t marked up 3000 percent and I don’t have to pay for parking.

  22. Good. Now get Verizon off the NFL app so I can watch (pay for) a game on my mobile device.

  23. Be careful what you wish for. The NFL will not allow itself to lose out on any monetary opportunity. It is a simple matter of how many of us will make up the difference (and then some) and in what way that will be. Higher cost for merch? PPV? Higher ticket prices? They could raise the prices of tickets and make pre-season games free or even 1/2 price to season ticket holders and people will love it even though their total cost has increased. The league will make more money and many of us are either too willing to give it to them or are too dumb to notice what is happening.

  24. There is no free lunch. Somewhere NFL lawyers are trying to write “PPV coming to a TV near you”, in the smallest font possible.

    make no mistake about it, I remember 25 years ago NFL insider blogs telling us that the NFL wanted 100 percent PPV even then, but did not think they could pull it off without losing in total revenues. As soon as they think they can pull it off and gain more profits, we will be watching NFL games on a PPV basis. Don’t rejoice yet, this is far from over folks. When PPV happens, I will be doing something else on my Sunday afternoons.

  25. When I was living in LA when the Rams and Raiders were there, I only went to one game because it was blacked out. Otherwise, when told to take it or leave it, I choose the latter.

    By the by, that game was Todd Marinovich’s first start for the Raiders. I told my friends, mark my words, he’s going to revolutionize the quarterback position.

    When can I expect the abuse to end? By the end of this decade? Is that too much to ask?

  26. Paul Tagliabue did the right thing by putting NFL teams in Jax and Charlotte over Bodymore. B’more’s ‘NFL impact’ is stealing the Browns, constantly being in the shadow of DC, and city consistently being in the top ten most dangerous in the US.

  27. Extra three minutes of commercials, URL ad banners at the end zones. Gotta recoup the money somehow.

  28. Now stop charging us season ticket holders full price for preseason games that are mandated into our season ticket package.
    We pay full price for less than full product

  29. It’s only time before every home game is PPV, and you’ll have to buy “packages” that will include “seconds” like watching the Jaguars, Browns, or Vikings from London, Prague, Mexico City, or Singapore stadiums.

    We’ll have the Northern Football League for summers and the Southern Football League for winters. (Just like MLB’s winter ball) Super Bowls will be played during the fall and spring solstices. Winners from each SB will be forced to participate on Dancing With the Stars for the yearly global championship.

  30. In the long run, the leverage goes to the sports leagues, especially when time comes to renegotiate contracts for tv broadcasts. Sports programming is largely responsible for the steep rate hikes for cable & satellite tv. More people watching NFL games on tv likely translates to higher rates for commercials, bigger profits for the leagues and cable companies. Meanwhile, those of us who receive over-the-air signals for free will continue pay essentially nothing.

  31. OK, now that’s fixed. Next step, let EVERY cable and satellite provider offer Sunday Ticket. NBA League Pass is available on every provider. Did RG1 and Co. see the size of the TV contract the NBA just signed? Also, there’s almost no such thing as “small/mid/large market team” in MLB anymore because of all the TV and internet revenue teams are getting. There is no one single provider exclusivity contract for streaming games and internet content.

    And that’s just MLB and the NBA. I’m willing to bet that if every TV provider could offer Sunday Ticket, this $9 billion NFL would double in revenue overnight.

    Time to end the stupidity of offering programing and content on 1 provider. Let all the providers in so you can have a larger customer base and make LOTS more money.

  32. Now, if the NFL would only get rid of DirecTV’s stranglehold on Sunday Ticket. With all of the technology available today there is no reason why fans shouldn’t be able to see their favorite teams regardless of where they live and regardless of which TV cable/satellite company they use.

  33. Now they need to look at the teams markets. Erie PA is a Steelers market and not a Bills market…..

  34. They had to do this. The last 2 years, the first round of playoff games were NOT sold out. I’m not surprised, with people being laid off and the price of going to a game, most people can’t afford. To give you an example, the tickets, even the nosebleed seats are around 75 dollars-100. Plus parking, plus buying anything to eat, guess how much for 2 people? No i didn’t include a program or even a shirt.

  35. as long as NFL Stadiums use public funds, blackout rules shouldn’t be allowed. It’d be curious to see an actual number that shows exactly how much money was spent on all current Stadiums that are in use. I realize that there is an impact on the local economy due to said Stadium, and other factors, still Billions go into these stadiums through public funds.

  36. Probably because the networks already pay billions for the rights to show the games.

  37. Now that the NFL has taken $100+M from US tax payers, they let them watch games for free. Hooray.

  38. The only reason teams like the North Florida Jags have avoided blackouts is due to the awesome tarp industry there! Awarding a franchise to J-ville was a Tagliabue Charlie Foxtrot!

  39. Worth noting that the only owner to vote against this change was mike brown. I guess that cheap sob will never change.

  40. A collective sigh of relief was felt all over Minnesota but now they can be witness to the poor play the rest of the country is forced to see on one of their low rated games.

  41. I guess this means Viking fans can be even bigger cheapskates and stay home when their team is losing. Oh wait, they need corporate bailouts to sell out playoff games as well.

  42. Market and year of last blackout/non-sell out

    Denver (1968) (in AFL, before 1973 rules)
    Washington (1969) (before 1973 rules)
    Pittsburgh (1972) (before 1973 rules)
    North Jersey (never)2
    San Francisco (1981)
    Green Bay (1983)
    Chicago (1984)
    Dallas (1990)
    New England (1993)
    Cleveland (1995)
    Houston (1995)
    Baltimore (1997)[14]
    Nashville (never)1
    Minnesota (1997)
    Miami (1998)
    Philadelphia (1999)
    Indianapolis (2002)
    Carolina (2002)
    Seattle (2002)
    New Orleans (2004)
    Arizona (2005)
    Atlanta (2007)
    Kansas City (2009)
    Jacksonville (2009)
    St. Louis (2009)
    Detroit (2010)
    Cincinnati (2012)
    Tampa Bay (2012)
    Oakland (2012)
    San Diego (2013)
    Buffalo (2013)

  43. Lol. How many of you would actually do pay per view for NFL games? I know i wouldnt. Theres 2 games every week worth watching and the rest are garbage.

    Thumbs up for you would buy NFL PPV, thumbs down for you would NOT buy NFL PPV

  44. Must be a partnership with a satellite company.

    Think of the poor Minnesotans getting stuck with the vikings instead of the Game of the Week.

  45. beavertonsteve says:
    Mar 23, 2015 3:33 PM
    The class action lawsuit against charging for Sunday Ticket and Season Pass packaging is the one I’m looking most forward to. Let me buy the games I want.

    There will be no such lawsuit. The NFL bid out the package and DirecTV has won. Every time. It’s an entertainment service, like HBO. You want it? Then you pay for it. Don’t want it? Don’t pay for it. It’s that simple.

  46. Packer fans are loving this. They won’t have to have a bank and the local Fox affiliate buy up all their tickets for a playoff game again like in 2014. They will probably choke again like this year anyway.

  47. NFL: Give us a free stadium and raise your taxes or we’re moving to LA, San Antonio, Toronto, or London!

    NFL: We’re blacking out games because not enough people can’t afford our high prices to attend games. At least we got our 10 billion from the TV networks! Suckas!

  48. cruzer1996 says: Mar 23, 2015 3:37 PM

    Now prices will go up. Some teams might have kept prices down to get their games on TV.

    I completely disagree. If you’re having trouble selling out, increasing prices is the last thing you want to do. It will simply mean fewer sales and more empty seats…which looks worse on tv.

    If anything, you’re more likely to see floating prices. They’ll sell as many as they can at the premium price. They’ll sell the next tier of seats at a lower price. Once they’ve sold all they can that way, they’ll probably go through an online ticket vender (or start their own) that will sell each ticket (or small group of tickets) for as much as they can get per ticket.

    At least, this is how they should have been doing it all along. It allows them to maximize revenue. A team buying up its own tickets isn’t an efficient means of sales. It artificially keeps ticket prices elevated, ensuring that the problem will continue. If ticket prices were free to adjust to the actual market, the prices of some tickets would drop (which the league probably feels would look bad), but the tickets would sell out. It would also allow some fans who otherwise might not be able to afford to take their families to the occasional game…thereby reinforcing the generational connection to the sport.

  49. granadafan says: Mar 23, 2015 8:28 PM

    Pay Per View has done WONDERS for our sport!


    The airing rights deals the NFL has worked out with the networks and ESPN have done even better for them. The only reason some NFL games don’t sell out is that the NFL’s policies have prevented ticket prices from being determined by the market. That’s why economists detest monopolies. They’re inefficient and waste resources.


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