UPDATED July 25 2:04 p.m. ET
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) unanimously voted to approve the settlement with the NFL to end the four-month lockout, according to reports, meaning the television industry can breathe a sigh of relief.
There remains a few more steps, including the recertification of the NFLPA by Aug. 4, but it appears that that lockout that threatened the NFL season and the $3 billion in ad revenues it generates will come to an end. Once the lockout officially ends, free agents could begin to be signed, training camps can open and games can begin to be played, with the NFL losing only the August 7 Hall of Fame game between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams.
"When the deal gets signed you're going to hear a collective exhale from the marketers, the network executives, the buyers," says Sam Sussman, senior VP and director of sports activation at Starcom.
But as NFL teams start to open their checkbooks to sign free agents, the agreement won't mean an influx of new money from advertisers looking to sign up for a season taken off the endangered list.
"All the constituents had a vested interest in the NFL games happening," Sussman says. "I think for the most part the large majority have operated from day one as treating this as business as usual, like there's going to be a deal that gets done."
Last year NFL ratings defied Nielsen gravity and rose almost 10%. Sussman doesn't think a summer without our organized workouts will affect the quality of play this season or that months of tedious labor news will diminish the appeal of the NFL brand.
"I don't think that there's any significant impact that we would expect from both the ratings or attendance standpoint," he said.