Support TV Programming & Features Sports Channel Blackouts
Sports Blackouts occur due to one of the following reasons:

A sports association has granted a national broadcaster exclusive rights to air a specific sporting event. For example, ESPN has exclusive rights to air games that begin after 5PM ET on Sundays.

A sporting event is not sold out in time to lift blackout restrictions in a team’s home market. For example, NFL blackout restrictions apply if Sunday afternoon games are not sold out within 72 hours of kick-off.

Learn about sports blackouts

Sports leagues and associations such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA, etc., negotiate broadcasting rights with local and national channels. Verizon is bound to adhere to the broadcast restrictions that are contracted between the governing sports bodies and broadcasters.

Blackouts occur due to one of the following reasons:

  • A sports association has granted a national broadcaster exclusive rights to air a specific sporting event. For example, ESPN has exclusive rights to air games that begin after 5PM ET on Sundays.
  • A sporting event is not sold out in time to lift blackout restrictions in a team’s home market. For example, NFL blackout restrictions apply if Sunday afternoon games are not sold out within 72 hours of kick-off.

NOTE: Sports blackout rules change from time to time. As a general rule, if a game is blacked out in your area, always check your Interactive Media Guide to see if the game is airing on another Fios TV channel.

Additional information can be found at FCC Sports Blackouts.

Blackouts organized by sport

Current blackout guidelines, organized by sport, appear below.

  • National Football League (NFL)

  • The local and cable channels that currently own TV rights to air NFL games are:

    • CBS – Sunday Afternoon AFC Games (Regional)
    • FOX – Sunday Afternoon NFC Games (Regional)
    • NBC – Sunday Night Football (National)
    • ESPN – Monday Night Football (National)
    • NFL Network – Thursday & Saturday Night (National)

    Typically, Thursday night and Saturday night games air later in the NFL season.

    Sunday Regional Games

    • No regional home game can be televised locally if it is not sold out within 72 hours of game time
    • In some cases, the NFL may extend the deadline if the game is nearly sold out
    • Blackout Radius for Regional Games: The NFL considers the home market for an NFL team to be within a 75-mile radius of the home team’s city
      • exception, to this is the home market for the Green Bay Packers, which includes both Green Bay and Milwaukee

    National Games

    • Regional blackout rules do not apply to national games aired on NBC, ESPN, or the NFL Network
    • Nationally aired games may be simulcast to the local markets of the two teams
      • For the home team to broadcast the game locally, the same 72-hour sellout deadline for regional blackouts applies
      • Thanksgiving Games: games played on Thanksgiving are nationally aired games

    Game Time Changes

    • In the last seven weeks of the NFL season, games originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon may be switched to Sunday night
      • Sometimes, a Sunday game scheduled for 1PM ET may be moved to 4PM ET, instead
      • The NFL does this so games that have significant fan interest can be repositioned
      • This way, more viewers can watch their favorite teams play

    NOTE: Sports blackout rules change from time to time.

    As a general rule, if a game is blacked out in your area, always check your Interactive Media Guide to see if the game is airing on another Fios TV channel.

  • Major League Baseball (MLB)

  • The broadcasters who currently own exclusive national TV rights to air MLB games are:

    • ESPN – Sunday Night Games after 5PM ET
    • FOX – Saturday Games between 4PM and 7PM ET

    MLB Blackout Criteria

    • Besides the exclusive broadcast rights granted to the nationally-aired games above, local or cable channels in a team’s home market will contract with the team to broadcast their games
    • The local broadcasters will have priority to air the team’s games, provided there is no exclusive nationwide broadcast right granted to another channel
    • For example: If a game is aired on a local channel and is also airing on the MLB Network, the local channel would have priority and the game on the MLB Network would be blacked out in the local market

    MLB Extra Innings Games

    • As with local broadcasters, the exclusive TV rights that ESPN and Fox have with MLB also apply to the MLB Extra Innings package
    • If the game is not on the MLB Extra Innings schedule, see if the game is airing on ESPN, ESPN2, or Fox

    NOTE: Sports blackout rules change from time to time.

    As a general rule, if a game is blacked out in your area, always check your Interactive Media Guide to see if the game is airing on another Fios TV channel.

  • Major League Soccer (MLS)

  • If you subscribe to the MLS Direct Kick package, local blackout rules apply for some teams.

    • You may find the game is airing on a local or regional sports channel, or on a national channel, such as ESPN or ABC

    NOTE: Sports blackout rules change from time to time.

    As a general rule, if a game is blacked out in your area, always check your Interactive Media Guide to see if the game is airing on another Fios TV channel.

  • NCAA Football

  • If you subscribe to the ESPN Game Plan package, the following blackout rules apply:

    ABC Regional Games

    • These are games your local ABC affiliate has the right to air
    • If a specific game airs on your local ABC channel, then the game is blacked out on the ESPN Game Plan schedule

    Regionally Syndicated Games

    • These are games that are aired on local or regional sports channels
    • If these games air locally or regionally, they are blacked out on the ESPN Game Plan schedule

    NOTE: Sports blackout rules change from time to time.

    As a general rule, if a game is blacked out in your area, always check your Interactive Media Guide to see if the game is airing on another Fios TV channel.

Need more support?