Tampa Bay Buccaneers could avoid blackouts in 2012 with new league rule

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 16: The evening sky at sunset as the New Orleans Saints play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 16, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

According to the Wall Street Journal the NFL is finally loosening up its blackout rules, which have been extremely restrictive and have led to thirteen local blackouts of Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games over the past two seasons in the Tampa Bay area. Under the league's rules, any home game that is not sold out will not be shown within 75 miles of the stadium, although that radius ends up being larger in reality. Now, the NFL is allowing home games that are sold out for 85% to be shown locally, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a world where everyone can go on the internet and find illicit streams of any NFL game, the blackout rule seemed to serve little purpose but to annoy local fans. The blackouts are supposed to push fans to the stadium, but in Tampa that hasn't really been the case. The Bucs have attempted to reduce the number of blackouts by lowering ticket prices, but they have failed to buy up the tickets required to lift a blackout in recent years, which they can do at 34 cents on the dollar. They also haven't found a corporate sponsor willing to buy up those tickets, something that has happened in other markets.

The Buccaneers exceeded 85% attendance in all but two games last season, and excitement in the area has picked up significantly. That would make avoiding blackouts very doable this year, especially if the Bucs were to aid the process by buying up tickets required to reach the 85% mark.

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