Living in what is considered a small market broadcasting city, I am well aware of the issues around the NFL’s policy to blackout NFL games when the stadium is not sold out at least 72 hours in advance of the game. While the Jacksonville Jaguars have not had a blackout game for the last two seasons, it is always threaten to happen. Most weeks during the football season you will hear that the team received an extension to the rule.
What many don’t realize that the NFL did not instill this rule, but that Congress passed the legislation back in 1973. Prior to 1973, the NFL blacked-out all home games during the regular season and during the playoffs. According to recent tapes released during Nixon’s presidency, the President wanted to watch a Washington Redskin’s game that would have under normal circumstances would have been blacked-out.
According to an SBNation the blackout rule was derived when the NFL made most of their money from ticket sales. With the financials changing to have most of the revenue provided by the broadcasting rights, the rule is under investigation by the FCC. The FCC will rule on the need to change or not change the blackout rules, as they are set today. The review will take place this week on February 27, 2012.
Here in Jacksonville, some people are hoping that the rule will not be lifted. That sounds strange doesn’t it? I agree, except that the tipping point could be reached and teams in smaller markets, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, could pick up and leave for a city like LA. What would stop them from going if ticket sales go down and heading to a city that can afford to put a winning team on the field, one that in the end would create higher revenue from Ticket sales and broadcasting or so that is what the proponents say?
Florida is hit hardest by the NFL Blackout rule with 3 teams in the state with low attendance and a higher percentage of blackouts occurring. So 2 Florida lawmakers are fighting to end the blackout rule. Since each of the teams used or requested public funds over the last 30 years, the Senator’s, according to a recent report in Tampa, Florida, want to ensure that customers in those markets fans or not are given a better chance to watch their favorite teams. It will be interesting to see what decision the FCC comes to and where we go from here.
We have learned from MBL Baseball that broadcasting allows teams to be competitive. The question remains if the NFL could change this so that smaller markets can compete. I am very interested in what the FCC has to share.