By Josh Katzowitz
On Friday, the Bengals announced that owner Mike Brown had purchased about 30 percent of his team in order to keep the vast majority of his empire inside greater Cincinnati. Also, on Friday, one of Ohio’s senators said Bengals fans, perhaps in response to Brown’s ownership history, needed a little extra help in getting through these tough times.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on commissioner Roger Goodell to end the NFL blackout rule, and in part, Brown said he’s trying to protect the fans who aren’t buying tickets to see Mike Brown’s franchise in action.
"The NFL's blackout policy is unnecessary,” Sherrod Brown said in a statement, via USA Today. “The NFL is poised to earn record profits while the Cincinnati taxpayers who built the stadium will be watching reruns rather than touchdown runs. The rule is an outdated relic that doesn't serve the NFL or the fans.”
The rule began in 1973 when the NFL decided it was in its best interest to get fans into the stadiums, and according to the paper, the actual percentage of games that the home fans can’t see has fallen. Pretty drastically, actually – from 50 percent in the 1970s to 10.8 percent of games in 2010 to only 6.7 percent this year (though teams have taken to buying or encouraging local businesses to purchase enough tickets to avoid a blackout, so the latter two numbers are a bit skewed).
One reason Sherrod Brown is bringing up this topic now is because CBS, Fox and NBC all struck new deals with the league that last through 2022 that will add about $3.1 billion into the NFL coffers, a 60 percent increase from the last contract between the networks.
Still, don’t expect the blackout policy to go away.
“The blackout policy is very important in supporting NFL stadiums and the ability of NFL clubs to sell tickets; keeping our games attractive as television programming with large crowds; and ensuring that we can continue to keep our games on free TV,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the paper. “Playing in full stadiums with thousands of fans is an important part of what makes NFL football an exciting and special entertainment event, both live and on television. We have a limited number of games and do not want to erode the incentive to buy tickets. Every market receives more than 100 NFL games on free TV every year, regardless of the blackout policy.”
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