Congratulations NFL fan, you can now watch your hometown team on TV whether or not they sell out their game.
The FCC put an end to the 39-year old NFL Broadcast rule Tuesday morning with a unanimous 5-0 vote.
The ruling was put in place in 1975 to help the league which at the time got most of their profit from people going to games. It was an easy way to force people to attend if they wanted to see their teams games. The league now gets most of their profit from broadcast rights.
The vote however was a bit symbolic--it means the government no longer supports the NFL doing it. But they can still enforce it and keep the rule as a part of their TV contracts. And they more than likely will.
However legislation is already in the works that would require them to do it or lose their anti-trust exemption. And in the long run, we suspect they will cave. Essentially, this means celebrate, but realize you may not see the blackouts end for a couple of years.
The NFL has always argued that having empty seats might hurt their image and that they might have to move their games to pay TV if the blackout rule ended.
Don't bet on that happening.
The NFL already has issues with empty seats at their games. Yeah, sure, they announce tickets purchased as their attendance figures rather than butts in seats, but if you watch, most games are not exactly 100% full.
And as for TV, the ratings on free TV still dwarf anything they'd get on cable or Pay Per View. The outcry if they did that would further the already negative public image they currently hold.
That's not to say they won't try it at some point, we think they will. But there will be pushback. More than they probably think there will be.