NFL finally ends TV blackout rule for 2015 season

The NFL has finally lifted a rule calling for the local TV blackout of games that don't produce enough ticket sales, starting with upcoming 2015 football season.

The league has faced increasing pressure for years to lift the ban. And that final lifting comes after the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would stop supporting the blackouts last September.

The blackout rules mandated that if a game wasn't 85 percent sold out within 72 hours of kickoff, the local broadcast station couldn't show it. And pay-TV operators couldn't let their subscribers in that local market see a feed from an out-of-town station. TV, as the theory went, would not be the reason why NFL fans chose not to go to the games.

As the NFL's popularity has soared, blackouts have occurred less and less frequently. There were 10 such blackouts in the 2010 season, for example, but none in the recently completed 2014 campaign.

The blackout rule has, however, forced some teams to scramble to sell remaining tickets in order to get games televised.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler even took to Twitter Monday afternoon to take credit for the NFL's decision.

"The @FCC did great work in paving the way for today's @NFL announcement: suspension of the sports #blackout for 2015. Good riddance!," he tweeted. 

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this ESPN story

Related links:
NFL relaxes blackout rules; will offer free Wi-Fi at stadiums
FCC gets out of the NFL blackout business
FCC's Wheeler sets Sept. 30 date to vote out NFL blackout rules
DirecTV reaches deal with Dispatch Video, pleads to Raycom: 'Let the people see pro football
NFL creates sites to rally support around blackout rule

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