No TV Blackouts in NFL's First Week

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated Sunday night that the league has no plans to lift the TV blackout of home games not sold out 72 hours before game time, but thanks to a
handful of extensions that was not an issue the first week of the season.

Earlier in the week he had said that the blackout policy was still good for the game, the teams and the fans, but said the league would work with the teams, which has included changing their comp ticket policy.

There were no blackouts this past weekend, the first weekend of the new season, according to the NFL. The league does have a policy of giving more time to teams showing "significant progress" toward selling out. "There were 24-hour extensions granted in three cases, Cincinnati, Arizona and Oakland," according to an NFL spokesman, which all sold out within that 24-hour extension.

Goodell has estimated that no more than 20% of the games could be blacked out this season, which is more than five times the 4% blackouts of last season. The average for the decade before last year had been 8%. But even the 20% is better than the previous two decades.

In the 1990's, 31% of games were blacked out, said the spokesman, and in the 1980's it was more like 40%.

The TV blackout does not apply to club seats and suites, but instead to the general admission seats whose sales could be depressed by the games availability.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.