Say bye-bye, NFL: FCC expected to eliminate sports blackout rule

This is way overdue.

Bloomberg News reports:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday will vote on whether to eliminate a decades-old rule that has prohibited pay-TV providers from airing some home sports games, such as NFL football games, if the tickets to those games did not sell out.

Four of five FCC commissioners, including Chairman Tom Wheeler, have publicly indicated support for ending the policy, which is known as a sports blackout rule and is backed by the broadcasters and the National Football League.


Only two NFL games, or less than 1 percent, were blacked out as a result of the rule last season and none so far this year, according to the NFL. In several instances, some businesses helped avoid blackouts by buying blocks of unsold tickets.

“The sports blackout rules are a bad hangover from the days when barely 40 percent of games sold out and gate receipts were the league’s principal source of revenue,” Wheeler wrote in a recent newspaper opinion piece, saying the policy hurt fans.

“The NFL no longer needs the government’s help to remain viable,” Wheeler wrote in USA Today on Sept. 9.



One thought on “Say bye-bye, NFL: FCC expected to eliminate sports blackout rule

  1. I’d like to know if this rule change also applies to the continuing spat between DirecTV and Comcast, especially here in the “Philadelphia” market where local games broadcast on ComcastSportNet Philly and are simultaneously broadcast on national cable networks are also blacked out on the cable network. This doesn’t happen in other Comcast markets (like Chicago). I’ve been told its because Comcast delivers its own broadcasts here through cable wire (and not via satellite as in other markets) so they are allowed to “black out”. It’s obvious why they do it but it still seems silly to me. I’m not a Philly sports fan so, at the end of the day, it doesn’t impact me but it still seems stupid to “shrink” a potential audience.

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