FCC Ends Blackout Rules — Does This Mean You’ll Never Have to Miss a Saints Game Again?
It's not very often that a Saints game gets blacked out because tickets didn't sell. Saints fans are pretty good about filling the Superdome. But it's always been a possibility when the Saints hit the road. However, the FCC regulation requiring blackouts has been lifted this week.
Well, isn't that interesting!
It seems clear that the new law is a reaction to all the domestic abuse scrutiny the NFL has found itself under. Who knows what else lawmakers are looking at regarding the NFL (maybe its non-profit status)?
Regardless, it's good news for football fans. The old law required cable and network TV outlets to black out games if there weren't enough tickets sold. It's had already become a rarer practice, simply because the NFL makes a big, fat pile of money from its TV rights. The league likes the rule because it gives them some clout, but too much money is made off TV for the NFL to suddenly stop that train now.
Unfortunately, just because the FCC has ended their involvement in blackouts, it doesn't mean all blackouts will end. Ultimately, the NFL will have its own contract negotiations with local stations, networks and providers -- and sometimes, blackouts will be part of those deals. Still, without the FCC's skirts to hide behind, the NFL will lose a little power in those negotiations.
The NFL's only other real option, if they can't bully their TV partners back into blackouts, is to take all of their games to a pay-TV kind of service, like the WWE did. That, however, could only really end in disaster for the NFL. Yes, lots of fans would pay for it, but the league would lose all casual fans on top of the serious money it gets from the networks.
As it stands now, it's good news for pigskin fanatics.