NFL expects no increase in TV blackouts next season
The NFL had 22 local television blackouts in 256 regular season games last season.
It was the largest number of local TV blackouts in a season for the NFL since there were 30 blackouts league-wide in 2004. But it was fewer blackouts than league officials had feared entering last season, which began with some teams struggling to sell tickets in the sluggish economy. Under NFL rules, a game is blacked out in the local TV market of the home team when it is not sold out 72 hours before kickoff, barring extensions of that deadline being granted by the league.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this week teams are finding that the ticket-selling market remains "challenging" this offseason, but he expects the number of local TV blackouts league-wide to remain the same or decrease next season.
"We're still in a challenging environment," Goodell said Tuesday at the spring owners' meeting in Dallas. "We obviously see what our fans are going through. There is still a lot of uncertainty out there in our fans' minds. That's reflected in their willingness to commit to season tickets. We're having to work harder and spend more resources to get our fans to engage, whether it's on a season ticket basis or smaller game packages or individual game package or group sales. That takes a lot more work and energy. We spend a lot of time talking about best practices, what's working in certain markets that we can apply to other markets. The clubs are working extra hard to do it. It is clearly a challenging market.
"I don't expect to see blackouts beyond what we saw last year. I think we will work hard and be effective again like we were last year."
The NFL had only 38 local TV blackouts between the 2005 and 2008 seasons--12 in 2005, seven in 2006, 10 in 2007 and nine in 2008.
Of last season's 22 blackouts, seven came in Jacksonville Jaguars' home games.
May 27, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
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