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NFL Softens Blackout Rules; Florida Football Fans Rejoice

Blackouts may be a thing of the past in Tampa Bay. Jacksonville and Miami fans can celebrate too. The NFL voted to change the league's blackout policy, which has been infuriating fans for some 40 years.

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The old rule said that if a team did not sell out three days prior to its game, that game could not be broadcast in the local market. Sell-out restrictions were loosened in the rule change, dropping the margin to 85 percent of tickets sold. It also gives teams some flexibility in setting their own benchmarks for ticket sales, so long as the 85 percent goal remains.

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Tampa Bay had all seven regular season games blacked out last season, all of their home games since they played one in London. Under the new rule, according to a report from WTSP, all those would have been available. Since 2010, the Bucs have had 13 games blacked out.

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The one catch in the rule change is that teams who set the benchmark at 85 percent have to share the revenue on ticket sales above that mark, a good reminder that nothing is really as free as it seems in the NFL.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.