... The NFL
blacked out 15 games last year. That's down from 16 in 2011 and 26 in 2010, but is still impressive after the NFL tweaked its blackout policy last summer to allow teams to declare a sellout and keep games on the air once ticket sales hit 85% of their home stadium's capacity. Under the old rule, which dates back to an act of Congress in 1961, home games couldn't be shown on TV stations that broadcast within a 75-mile radius of the stadium if non-premium tickets weren't completely sold out 72 hours before kickoff.
That switch wasn't mandatory, however, and it was up to the teams' owners to decide if they want to adopt that 85% threshold and pay a greater percentage of ticket revenue to opposing teams as a result. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
jumped at the chance in July and lowered ticket prices after blacking out 13 of their past 15 home games. The Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings also joined in, but that didn't prevent two of those four teams from blacking out games in 2012.
Those who vow that things will be different this year point to a bill introduced by former presidential nominee and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. McCain's legislation would require the NFL to broadcast all home games locally in markets where teams have used public financing to build stadiums, which is almost everywhere.
"Now, if that stadium is not taxpayer-financed, then that owner can do anything they want to," McCain said. "But if the taxpayers paid for them, then, by God, I think the taxpayers ought to be able to see the game whether they sell out the stadium or not."...