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Colts, Chargers keep NFL blackout level, will others?

You'll soon find out if your favorite NFL team is making a change to its blackout policy.

The Buffalo News reports NFL teams have a Sunday deadline to decide if they will relax blackout restrictions for the 2012 season. The NFL now allows teams the option of airing a game in their market even if the stadium is as little as 85 percent filled in non-premium sections.

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But what might sound like a no-brainer PR move gets more complicated. If the choice is made to lower the restriction -- teams can choose any percentage between 85 and up -- the club must stay with that designation for the entirety of the season.

If a team chooses, for example, the 85 percent threshold, then continually sells out the venue, it must split revenues with the visiting team on every ticket that is over 85 percent capacity. This could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue over a period of weeks, more than enough reason to scare teams off.

The Indianapolis Colts have already said they won't ease restrictions. The San Diego Chargers are unlikely to change their policy, too.

"We're a small-market team, and we need people in the stadium," the Colts COO Pete Ward told the Indianapolis Star. "While we value all of our fans, our first priority is to protect the investment of paying customers."

At a time when teams attempt to enhance the in-stadium experience, it would be surprising to see them make it easier for fans to stay home. Expect many NFL franchises to follow the course of the Colts and Chargers.

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