NFL continues to defend Blackout Rule with new campaign


August 25, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Fans in the Black Hole cheer during action between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Lions 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s local “Blackout Rule” is a rule that has affected the Oakland Raiders in recent years as a decade of losing seasons has led to more than a few local blackouts of Raiders games in the past, and with a push to get rid of the rule underway the league has started a new campaign to keep the rule in place according to ProFootballTalk. 

From PFT: 

"At a time when the NFL faces the potential elimination of its blackout rule, the league has embarked on an effort to prevent limitations on the ability to refuse to telecast games in the local market if those contests aren’t “sold out.”  (More on what “sold out” actually means later.)Via a website that carries no NFL logos or trademarks or other copyrighted materials, but with a privacy policy that links directly to, the league calls its effort “Protect Football on Free TV.”  The league has enlisted Hall of Famer Lynn Swann (and possibly others) to spread the word; Swann recently did so in an appearance on WXYZ-TV in Detroit.“If it’s not broken,” Swann said, “what are they trying to fix?  We have full stadiums, people come to the games.  We’re the only sport where fans who don’t get to the game can watch it on free over-the-air television.”Unless, of course, the game isn’t sold out.  If that happens, it’s not available on any television, free or otherwise.“The blackout rule helps support that, and it supports our broadcast partners,” Swann said, without explaining how being required to run three hours of P90X ads instead of the home game in the local market actually helps the broadcast partners.“A full stadium means enthusiastic players, enthusiastic fans,” Swann said.  “It means the announcers are enthusiastic.  Everybody benefits all the way around.”"

The league’s current blackout rules only apply to 85% of “Non-Premium” seats, so the NFL’s argument that the blackout rule will threaten full stadiums is a bit of a stretch. While it does prevent fans from opting to sit at home and watch the game on free television rather than support the team with money at the gate, the rule has shown time after time that it doesn’t guarantee a full stadium on Sundays. Whether the rule stays or not is an answer nobody knows, but the NFL’s fight to ensure fans can’t watch their local team at home without the stadium being filled to a certain capacity isn’t going away anytime soon.