Less than a year into his tenure as chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, Tom Wheeler has announced that at the end of the month, the FCC will vote on killing the 39-year-old rule mandating local blackouts for NFL games that don't sell out.
Disaster mostly averted: Of the three teams facing the prospect of local TV blackouts for their wild card playoff games, two have achieved sellouts—sort of—and the third appears close. And it's all thanks to the benevolence of corporate America.
The NFL maintains the largest live-to-televised enjoyment disparity of any major sport, but that ought to dissipate come the postseason. Yet three playoff games still have thousands of unsold tickets remaining, and broadcasts in those areas could be blacked out this weekend. The deadlines are just hours away.
A couple months back, the NFL softened its blackout policy. The league once bound local stations to black out nearby home games if they had unsold seats. Now—although the league still incentivizes complete sellouts—teams have the option of airing their games with as little as 85 percent of their seats sold. It's a…
The Chargers' attendance issues are legendary. The weather's too nice. The stadium's too old. Norv Turner's just going to do something stupid and they're going to crash out just shy of the playoffs again. There are all sorts of reasons why Qualcomm doesn't fill up. Failing to adequately advertise to fans of the other…
The Wall Street Journal published a piece over the weekend about dwindling attendance at NFL games and the league's plans to combat it. Buried within the story was this nugget:
We did a post yesterday on Richard Nixon's 1972 efforts to forever sustain the NFL's policy of blacking out teams' home games in their local markets. The NFL rejected Nixon's bargain, and so, from 1973 on, only those games with unsold tickets 72 hours prior to kickoff would be blacked out. That rule still stands.