The threat of a television blackout for an NFL game emerges at least a couple times a season, but the league is making a change that many Vikings fans called a winning decision.
The blackout threat emerges whenever a team can't sell enough tickets to satisfy the NFL's requirements -- and that means fans can't watch the game on TV in the local market.
Yet while television ratings for the Vikings and other teams are through the rough, attendance at the games has been lagging in recent years. Now, the league is giving fans and teams a break by making the blackout threshold more lax.
Previously, a game needed to be sold out in order for it to be broadcast in the team's home city. Now, franchises will be able to set their own standard -- as long as that standard isn't below 85 percent attendance, that is.
With tickets averaging about $77 apiece, the NFL has had a tough time convincing fans that making the trek to the stadium is a good buy.
"When you can wake up on Sunday morning and not have to worry about the snow and the traffic -- that you can sit on your couch and catch the game, it's tough to beat," said Glen Leith. "[Going to the game is spendy."
According to the Wall Street Journal, game attendance has dropped 4.5 percent since 2007. Meanwhile, broadcasting fees have skyrocketed.
While the NFL is guaranteed $28 billion over the next 10 years, the league appears to be ready to invest in stadium enhancements to encourage fans to come for the experience. Some features include free high-speed wireless Internet, access to replays on disputed calls and smart phone apps that allow fans to listen to players on the field.
"Those are all things that make it more interactive," said Vikings fan John Rauch.
A Vikings spokesman told FOX 9 News the team is still evaluating its options for local blackouts.