The NFL announced this week that it will not block any games from local television during the 2015 season.
On Monday (March 23), the league said team owners voted for a one-year suspension of the long-standing blackout policy for the preseason and regular season.
Last season, there were no blackouts because the minimum number of tickets were sold for every game, and in 2013, there were just two blackouts.
ESPN calls the experiment “a huge step for the NFL, whose blackout policy dates back decades.”
Back in the 1970s, half of NFL games were blocked from local TV because the games did not sell enough tickets. Some teams — including Tampa Bay, Miami, Jacksonville, Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego — have struggled to avoid blackouts.
The current policy stipulates that a home game must be sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff in order to be televised locally. Often, that deadline is extended to ensure sellouts if a club believes it can meet the criteria for lifting the blackout.
The NFL’s definition is not exactly selling every seat, but rather, a large percentage, depending on the venue.
Blackouts have been a part of the NFL since the 1950s, when team owners believed that televising local games would damage attendance. In 1973, the current league policy was put into action.
The league said it will evaluate the impact of the suspension after the season.