The 2-3 Buffalo Bills are in danger of being the first team in the league to have their home television rights blacked-out due to low attendance at their home-game this week versus the Bengals. In order to avoid a blackout the Bills are trying to sell 7,000 tickets with the help of a $15 ticket promotion (see above). This would be the first TV blackout of the season. The first five weeks of the season without a blackout is the longest time since the 2008 season. Last season NFL teams saw 15 blackouts, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having the most at six.
Blackout rules for the NFL stipulate that “a home game cannot be televised locally if it is not sold out 72 hours prior to its start time. This makes the NFL the only major professional sports league in North America that requires teams to sell out in order to broadcast a game on television locally.” The NFL recently adjusted the rule so that a team won’t be blacked-out if they sell 85% of tickets, but they had to agree to pay a greater percentage of ticket revenues to opposing teams if they exceeded that threshold. Teams were not required to follow this rule, ala the Chargers, Bills, and Bengals did not agree to it because they did not want to have to pay that higher percentage of ticket revenues. To simplify:
Old rule: Home team must sell-out 72 hours prior to game or they suffer a blackout.
New Rule: Teams can sell out 85% of stadium in order to avoid a blackout, but they are required to pay the NFL a higher percentage of ticket revenue.
Should be interesting to see if Buffalo can avoid the blackout. Stay tuned to the blog to see if they do.