What is the 72 hour rule?
The 72 hour rule allows NFL organizations to deny local television broadcasters (within 75 miles of the stadium) the rights to televise games if those particular matchups fail to sell out 85% of the seats in the stadium within 72 hours of kickoff. This rule was imposed to protect the financial interests of sports teams.
However, since the rule was established in 1961 the NFL has developed into one of the most watched, and highly publicized sports in North America and overseas. No longer is there a need for the 72 hour rule because stadium revenues, which include ticket sales, account for a fraction of the total revenue generated by professional football teams. Corporate sponsorships, merchandising, and licensing are some of the more profitable financial mechanisms to lead to increased profits by the NFL.
The good news
The NFL suspended the blackout rule for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and is currently re-evaluating the rule for the 2017 season.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported that before the decision to suspend the rule was finalized in 2015, the league had already seen a diminishing value of the rule. Kaplan points out that there were no blackouts in 2014, and only two in 2013. He also notes, the average attendance per game dropped only 0.5 percent.
The continuance of the suspension, or a repeal of the rule altogether will greatly benefit the fans of cities with professional football teams. With increasing ticket prices, the experience is becoming more and more costly and having the opportunity to still watch your team play at least eight times a season is invaluable.
What lies ahead
If you are like me, and you were born and raised in Iowa where there are no current professional football teams then the blackout rule doesn’t pertain to you. You’ll just have to watch the nationally televised games in your respected region slotted for Sundays unless you are willing to purchase the NFL Sunday Package from your respective TV provider.
If you live right next to an NFL stadium, you should be relieved to hear that regardless of if the rule remains intact after the upcoming decision preceding the 2017 season, the availability of local games shouldn’t be affected via Kaplan.