San Diego Chargers Remind Us that NFL's New Blackout Policy isn't Great

The San Diego Chargers were one of the teams who’ve been plagued by blackouts in recent years, yet opted not to take advantage of the NFL’s new blackout policy allowing teams to lower their blackout threshold to 85% of capacity.

Had the Chargers done so, all of Southern California would be able to watch two 2-0 teams battle it out. Instead, thanks to the greed of Chargers owners and the NFL’s flawed blackout policy, the vicious cycle of blackouts continues.

Why did the Chargers not take advantage of the blackout policy? The new policy requires teams that exceed their threshold to give back a larger percentage of ticket revenues to the league.

“Lowering the benchmark to 85 percent would substantially impact our ticket revenues. A team like the Chargers, whose revenues are already limited by an older, antiquated stadium, can’t afford to lose such an import revenue stream,” Chargers spokesman Bill Johnson told NBC 7 San Diego.

While we welcomed any change to the decades-old NFL policy, it’s clear that the new rule is stupid. Why punish teams for lowering their blackout threshold? The new rule seems to be designed to encourage owners not to set their thresholds too low and just sit back and not sell tickets. But what NFL teams are not going to try to increase profits by selling more tickets? It’s absurd.

So it’s understandable why the Chargers would be reluctant to change their policy. But still, why don’t the Chargers buy up the remaining tickets (at 34 cents on the dollar) and GROW their fan base? Probably because their still of the antiquated and erroneous mindset that blackouts work. According to NBC 7 San Diego,  ”Johnston says the NFL’s blackout policy works and is proven to help sell tickets.” In fact, it DOESN’T work. Nine top sports economists have shown that “blackouts have no significant effect on ticket sales in the NFL.”

As long as it costs a family of four $466 to attend just one Chargers game, and as long as the Chargers continue to black out their fans and kill any hopes of building a fan base, expect the blackouts to continue…

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