NFL Attendance Down For 4th Straight Year; Blackout Rule Not Working

Raiders Black Hole

This past weekend, the Oakland Raiders ended their streak of 11 straight blackouts when they sold out their home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The NFL has received a lot of criticism for their blackout rule in which a game cannot be televised locally if not sold out within 72 hours of the game. The rule is designed to entice fans to the stadiums with the threat of not being able to see the games.

Amidst the criticism, more and more evidence is mounting that shows the policy just isn’t working.

Through nine weeks of the 2010 season, the NFL has already had 13 blackouts and is on pace to have 25 games not aired in the local market. That would surpass last season’s total of 22 and is up 150 per cent from 2007 when the NFL had only 10 blackouts and set an attendance record with over 17.5 million fans.

In fact, attendance in the NFL is down for the fourth straight year…

NFL Attendance

Also consider that in 2007, nearly half (15) of the leagues 32 teams were at 100 per cent capacity or higher* for the entire season. This year, only nine teams are at 100 per cent capacity at the halfway mark.

Attendance is down and blackouts are up half-way through the season. This is before the weather gets worse. Most teams are theoretically still in contention for the postseason.

At this rate, things can only get worse for the NFL. The popularity of the sport is dependent on fans being able to watch their teams. Maybe it is time for the league to rethink their position on the blackout policy before their grip on “Most Popular Sport” is loosened.

*Many teams sell standing-room only tickets, that do not count towards stadium capacity. So it is posible for a team to have reached a “capacity” of greater than 100%.

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