Continuing a policy that began in 2015, the NFL announced that it will suspend all TV blackouts in the 2016 season. The league suspended the blackouts last season as part of a study to determine if the NFL will do away with them altogether. Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal tweeted the news on Monday:
The NFL extended for another year suspension of TV blackout rule. Goodell said more study needed before league wipes policy from its books
— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) March 28, 2016
As Kaplan tweeted, the league wants to further study the response to not having blackouts. Prior to 2015, all NFL games needed to be at least 85% sold out 72 hours in advance if a game was to be broadcast in the local market. In 2015 with no blackouts, attendance league-wide was down slightly by 0.5%.
The league wants to see how attendance fares in 2016 before making its final decision on whether it will eliminate the rule altogether.
Blackouts were last enforced in 2014 and there were none that year, but two in 2013 and three in 2012. Before 2012, games had to be close to 100% sold out and teams were given extensions so local stations would have the opportunity to air them.
Now that we’ll be assured of no blackouts in 2016, let us hope that this will be enough to get rid of them for good. The NFL blackout policy has lived way beyond its usefulness and with other leagues not blacking out their games, it’s time for it to go the way of black and white standard definition television.