NFL relaxes local television blackout rules for 2012 season

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Over the weekend, CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson passed along the report that the NFL would relax local blackout rules for the 2012 NFL season. That report is now fact, as the NFL confirmed that it is indeed easing back on ticket-sales requirements for teams to avoid a blackout.

According to the league, teams now have the option to sell 85 percent in order to avoid a blackout, as opposed to needing a full-blown sellout in order to avoid the blackout.

"It's optional if clubs want to do this and would only affect a few teams," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told NFL.com in an email. "Last year only 6 percent of games were blacked out in a local market. This figure is down significantly from 15 to 20 years ago when 25 to 30 percent of games were routinely blacked out."

As a part of the decision to lift the blackout rule at 85 percent capacity, teams will then hand over more revenue to the visiting team if the additional 15 percent of tickets are sold.

"If a team chooses to do so, it may set its capacity number needed for a blackout to be lifted at 85 percent of overall capacity," McCarthy added about the new rule. "More revenue than usual will be shared with the visiting clubs for tickets sold above that base number."

The new blackout policy is a) good and b) a part of a larger initiative aimed at making the league more fan-friendly. Easier blackout restrictions don't necessarily mean less blackouts -- the policy is optional after all -- but it does mean that fans in local markets have a better chance of watching their favorite team.

And the NFL is doing its best to make it more entertaining for fans to attend games as well. Wilson chronicled a list of various ideas the NFL's looking to implement, including WiFi in the stadiums, fancy new listening devices and smartphone apps.

The league's hope is that these implementations make the relaxed blackout policy unnecessary.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

 
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