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NFL suspends blackout rule for 2015 season, will stream London game worldwide

NFL suspends blackout rule for 2015 season, will stream London game worldwide

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NFL owners have voted to suspend the league's unpopular blackout rule, which forbids local TV stations from airing games with lackluster ticket sales, for the entire 2015 season. But ditching the rule isn't yet permanent; owners plan to reevaluate upon the season's conclusion to see if the decision had any unwanted effects. The blackout rule actually didn't prevent any TV viewers from seeing a game in 2014, and only two games were blacked out for the year prior.

As written, the rule is activated when a team fails to sell 85 percent of seats 72 hours before kickoff; in 2012, the NFL relaxed its previous, more stringent set of requirements that led to a higher frequency of blocked games. The FCC did its part in getting here last year, repealing a rule that barred cable and satellite companies from airing games that weren't shown locally.

Separately, the NFL announced that it will be streaming an October 25th game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars on a service to be named later. And it's a global event; fans will be able to stream the game from around the world. (People in those two markets will still be able to watch the game — which will be played in London — on local broadcast TV.) The NFL has made clear that it's interested in pursuing a worldwide audience outside of longstanding traditional cable agreements, though it hasn't yet announced what's to come after the October experiment.