Good news, sports fans! The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today on whether or not the government would continue to support the blackout rule for the NFL.
The FCC unanimously agreed to end the blackouts.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the NFL's private blackout rules are being taken away. Those private contracts with FOX and CBS still stand, and may still prevent locals from being able to watch their team's games.
The FCC blackout rule instituted in 1975 was to help the NFL and strengthen the industry. It prevented cable companies from airing a game on TV that had been blacked out because the game hadn't sold enough tickets.
But in recent years, this blackout policy has hurt fans more than helped them. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler cites an example in his article in USAToday about how the NFL, while raking in billions in revenue last year, is really only hurting the fans with the FCC blackout rule.
"[T]he NFL's blackout policy remains a real concern for fans. During last year's playoffs, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Indianapolis hadn't sold out their games 72 hours before kickoff. The only way those games weren't denied to fans was that local businesses bought blocks of tickets just so the game could be officially "sold out."
The most egregious case was in Green Bay, where the weather forecast called for a low of minus-15 degrees. Despite decades of unbelievable fan support and loyalty – Green Bay had sold out every regular season game since 1959 – local Packer fans were effectively told that if more people didn't buy tickets to go freeze, the rest of the community wouldn't be able to watch the game on TV."