Reality Check: NFL Blackouts

Reality Check: NFL Blackouts

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Bengals narrowly dodged a blackout on Sunday, but that wasn't the case back in November when they traveled to San Diego. That game didn't sell out before the deadline and forced Charger fans who either couldn't afford or couldn't catch the game in person, to listen to it on local radio.

According to the NFL, TV blackouts are on the decline. Yet, we almost saw three of them this past weekend alone.

In December the FCC voted to back a proposal that eliminates blackouts, a move that means nothing if the NFL doesn't go along with it. The league is on the record saying it will strongly oppose any change to the rule which begs the question: Why?

Why would the NFL, which rakes in billions of dollars in revenue every year, deny hometown fans the opportunity to watch the game from the comforts of home?

FOX19 spoke with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who has spent years trying to overturn the league's 40-year old black out policy.

"We build these stadiums for billionaire owners and millionaire players," he says. "And they're going to deny these tax payers in Dayton and Cincinnati and across the river in Kentucky the ability to watch these games."

A group of sports economists recently conducted a study on the financial impact to the NFL in the event of a television blackout and found no evidence that current blackout practices have a significant impact on attendance, revenues, or profits.

Meanwhile, ticket prices have climbed on average by more than 50 percent over the past decade—parking prices have more than doubled—even beer prices have climbed approximately 35 percent since 2003.

Senator Brown remains optimistic that a change in policy is coming, but he's also relying on the NFL to be charitable, to set profits aside for the sake of the fans saying quote:

"I'm hopeful they decide to do something fan friendly and just eliminate this blackout policy which really makes no economic sense or sense period," says Brown.

**NOTE** FOX19 contacted NFL Executive Brian McCarthy via email this week but have yet to receive a response.  

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