The NFL has enacted local television blackouts in regions where games have not sold out since 1975. It’s one of the most controversial rules surrounding the league and its relationship with broadcast networks.
This could all change relatively soon. According to SB Nation, a commissioner for the FCC has gone on record indicating that NFL’s blackout policy should end. FCC’s Ajit Pai had this to say in lobbying for a change in the policy while speaking to a group of fans in Buffalo.
Right now, the FCC is officially on the side of blackouts. We should be on the side of sports fans…So this afternoon, I’m asking the FCC to hold an up-or-down vote on ending the sports blackout rule. I hope my fellow FCC Commissioners will join me in voting to eliminate it. And I hope we do that before the rule turns 40 next year.
If the FCC does decide to vote in Pai’s favor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the blackout rule would change immediately. There are other factors in place here, including NFL’s Sunday Ticket and other television contracts.
As of right now, if a team doesn’t sell out within 72 hours of game time, the game is blacked out in its local market. The league has in the past offered extensions, which has helped some teams around the league a great deal.
While most markets have not been impacted by the blackout rules, there are still some who have seen it implemented over the past few years. The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills come to mind first.