• What is The 3pm Blackout in Football

    Published Friday 21 April 2023 12:28pm

    5 min read

    The 3pm football blackout impacts teams across the Premier League and EFL competitions. Find out what the 3pm football blackout is at WheresTheMatch.

By WherestheMatch Team

Whether you're a long-time fan or simply a casual watcher, you've probably noticed just how many fixtures are broadcast on a weekly basis across the English football pyramid. The Premier League itself is an especially profitable property having been reported to be the most watched sports league across the globe; naturally, this explains the conflicts between streaming mediums and the intricacy with which most fixtures are scheduled. Prime time slots (roughly 7pm to 11pm on weeknights) tend to be especially packed which can quite frequently lead to an overlap between divisions and competitions, unfortunate for those that support lesser-known teams seeing as they’re rarely ever going be shown on live television ahead of the Premier League big boys. Seeing as competition for broadcasting slots is already at an all-time high, the 2-hour 40-minute block on a Saturday within which televising any English football match is strictly prohibited, just seems like UEFA rubbing salt in the wound.

What is the 3pm Blackout?

Quite simply, the 3pm blackout is a period of time on a Saturday within which a football broadcaster is forbidden from televising English football fixtures. This period lasts from 2:45pm to 5:25pm. The competitions that are affected by this include; the Premier League, Championship, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, as well as the lower tiers of English football. The 3pm blackout has currently only been adopted in England, so most matches that are not being televised can still be watched through an international broadcaster. This makes the EFL amongst the few leagues/competitions that actually get easier to watch the further you are from where the matches are taking place.  

Why Are 3pm Games Not on TV?

During the 1960s, Burnley chairman Bob Lord came to a realisation. He realised that if football matches were always broadcast on television, that this would divert fans who would otherwise go and attend the match of their local, or lower league team. He was so terrified of the armchair fan that he would go on to persuade his fellow Football League chairmen of the dangers this could have on the attendance of the lower divisions. The 3pm blackout was implemented shortly after and over 60 years later, this rule is still in effect.

At the time, there wasn't exactly a great deal of data to approve or disprove Bob Lord’s hypothesis so they pretty much just ran with his idea. Now into the 21st century, we are able to compare attendance data across leagues that do not partake in the blackout with a study conducted by the European Court of Justice revealing that televised football matches have little to no impact on matchday attendance.

The Impact of the 3pm Football Blackout

It's important to note the impact that the 3pm Football Blackout has had within the sport as well as within English broadcasting in general.


  • Football shows such as Soccer Saturday and Match of The Day certainly owe part of their popularity to the blackout. Fans who are unable to watch their team live will be more inclined to tune in to catch highlights or keep up with scorelines; the same can be said for radio shows and other current football media.
  • As the most popular sport in the world, the demand for football matches far surpasses that of others. The 3pm Football Blackout offers a high-viewership slot to other sports which can be used to promote smaller leagues or competitions.


  • Less games being broadcast means lower revenues for football clubs and broadcasters.
  • Since international broadcasts are still available, non-televised games push fans to illegal streams or alternative methods of watching matches.
  • Foreign matches that overlap with the Blackout window may have portions cut depending on kick-off times.
  • Punishes fans for being unable to attend matches in person.

Is The 3pm Football Blackout a Dated Concept?

The main idea behind the implementation of the 3pm Football Blackout was that it would help to combat a contingent of the fanbase who would much rather watch a game from home than go attend a match in person. With studies revealing that televised fixtures have little to no impact on stadium attendance in other countries, it seems that this was always an unfounded fear. Additionally, the majority of football clubs no longer rely on attendance numbers to single-handedly drive their revenue with broadcasting and merchandising now taking the place of ticket/matchday experiences as the primary sources of income. This means that even if reintroducing 3pm fixtures does lead to a drop in attendance, this would be nowhere near as harmful as it may have been several decades ago.

How many magical moments have fans missed because a match wasn't broadcast live?