Friday Night Rights: The Sports Broadcasting Act's 75-Mile Football Rule

Friday Night Rights: The Sports Broadcasting Act's 75-Mile Football Rule

Matthew P. List, Gordon Denis
Communications & Media

Under the Sports Broadcasting Act (SBA), professional sports leagues were granted an antitrust exemption for pooling broadcast rights to their games. Because of concerns about how television broadcasts of professional football might affect college games, Congress conditioned professional football’s antitrust exemption on avoiding broadcasts on Fridays and Saturdays. In particular, the SBA’s 75-Mile Football Rule excludes professional games broadcast from stations near college football game sites from the antitrust exemption.

In this edition of CRA Insights, we summarize the potential competitive concerns of the SBA’s 75-Mile Football Rule, while also considering the procompetitive rationale for the rule. We also evaluate how many households are directly impacted by the 75-Mile Football Rule.

Finally, with many high school and college football seasons canceled this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some have wondered whether the NFL could telecast games on Fridays and Saturdays this year. Using the most recent available information on canceled college football seasons, we estimate the number of households located in areas that may be temporarily unaffected by the 75-Mile Football Rule this fall.

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