From ARS Technica:
NFL fights to save its TV “blackout rule”
Despite $9B revenue, NFL says blackout rule needed to keep football on free TV.
The National Football League (NFL) is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preserve 39-year-old blackout rules that prevent games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold. Last season, two games were blacked out locally in the regular season, while several blackouts were narrowly averted in the playoffs.
The FCC considered a proposal to eliminate its blackout rules last November, with then-acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn saying that the rules are outdated. Today, the rules aren’t actually responsible for the majority of blackouts, and they "have little relevance for sports other than professional football, because the distribution rights for most of the games in these sports are sold by individual teams, rather than the leagues,” the FCC said.
But they do matter to football. Naturally, the NFL wants to keep the rules in place—and argues that they are good for fans. Despite being the richest sports league in the country with more than $9 billion in annual revenue, the NFL said in an FCC filing that sports blackout rules are a “critical contributing factor” to its “ability to maintain its ‘free TV model.’”