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NFL To Tweak Blackout Policy, Enhance Stadium Experience

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ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 24: Fans of  Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos spell out his name at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 40-14.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 24: Fans of Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos spell out his name at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 40-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
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A report from The Wall Street Journal indicates that the National Football League is poised to change their blackout policy and make some tweaks to the in-stadium experience in an effort to curb declining ticket sales.

The biggest impending change: the league will no longer require 100 percent ticket sales to avoid television blackouts in local markets. Teams will now be able to set their own sales requirements to meet blackout eligibility, with 85 percent ticket sales being a league-mandated minimum. Most teams will likely set benchmarks considerably higher than that, however, as the league will take away a larger share of revenues if said benchmark is easily exceeded.

Changes are coming to NFL stadiums in the near future, as well.

Among the changes coming to NFL stadiums, free wireless internet access tops the list. The league will require every stadium to carry the service, and the report indicates that at least four teams are already equipped to comply by the start of the 2012 season.

The league is also considering the development of smart phone apps - one that would allow fans to listen to a raw feed of a "mic'd up" player on the field of play, and another that would provide fans the opportunity to listen to the on-field conversation between referees during replays and disputed calls (though this later app is currently in discussion, and is a long way off, per the report). The league also plans to show fans the same replays that referees look at while a ref is under the hood reviewing a play; fans will be looking at the same thing as the refs at the same time. Another application in consideration would provide on-demand instant replay access.

Finally, public address announcers and stadium operators would no longer be discouraged from riling up crowd noise during third downs and in key situations with videos and live announcements. For years, the Buffalo Bills have shown videos in front of third downs, but never has the PA announcer said anything to fans aside from standard in-game announcements and advertisements.

What do you think, Bills fans? Would any of this perhaps inspire you to consider buying a ticket to a Bills game (or to a game in or near your current location) to a higher degree than you already do?