NFL Blackouts Wiped Out in 2015 and Bills-Jags in London to be Streamed Online

Some big news out of the NFL Owners’ Meeting in Phoenix today. First, we find out from Wall Street Journal NFL reporter Kevin Clark that the league will stream the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game in London on Sunday, October 25 online. It will either stream on Google/YouTube, Facebook, Apple or some other platform. The game will be seen on TV in both Buffalo and Jacksonville, but online elsewhere. The key is it will not be available on DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. Clark tweeted out the information:

As Clark notes in his WSJ.com story, the game will kickoff at 9:30 a.m. ET and keeps the league on top of finding the newest ways of distributing its games:

The move is in keeping with the NFL’s history of shifting its most valuable content to the newest forms of distribution that are available. In 1987 the league moved a package of games to cable television when it was available in roughly half the country. It launched its own network and moved a slate of Thursday night games to the channel in 2006. It began streaming the Sunday night game on NBC in 2008.

By selling the rights to an online game, it’s another revenue stream for the NFL. Perhaps down the line, the league will sell a package of games to an online distributor, but it won’t happen with this TV contract. This is a one-game experiment to see if consumers will respond to watching a game online and through an over the top service. There will be several interested parties with existing infrastructure like Apple, Facebook, Google (YouTube) and Yahoo.

Certainly the networks won’t like having one game taken from their schedules. This would have been a game on CBS and DirecTV can’t be happy about not being able to air the London game, but then again, it didn’t do Detroit-Atlanta last year.

Last year’s Detroit-Atlanta morning game on Fox received a 5.5 rating with 8.5 million viewers. Could the online stream get as many people? The key here is the game will be available worldwide, not just in the United States.

Commissioner Roger Goodell did hint at the online streaming game during his State of the Game speech at the Super Bowl earlier this year.

This could be a huge gamebreaker or a huge flop. We’ll see.

Now for the other big story from the NFL Owners Meetings, the ridiculous antiquated blackout policy will be suspended for the 2015 season:

This comes six months after the FCC eliminated the Sports Blackout Rules which protected the NFL’s policy of preventing games being aired in the home markets if they weren’t sold out 72 hours in advance. In fact after the FCC announced its reversal of policy, the NFL had held steadfast saying it would continue the blackouts.

In recent years, the NFL had relaxed the blackout rules saying if a game was at least 85% sold, it could be aired in the home market, but no one expected the owners to completely wipe out the blackout rule.

As Clark reports, this is a one-year experiment and the owners will evaluate the results to determine if the elimination will continue beyond the 2015 season.

These are big moves coming from the National Football League and we’ll see how this affects the

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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