This should make football fans everywhere smile. It looks like it could be possible to get all of the fun of NFL Sunday Ticket without having to subscribe through DirecTV for the other 349 days of the year. This page on their website is where the details are and it says you can now get Sunday Ticket and costs vary depending on how you want to watch the games.
But this isn’t that great of a deal so here are our top five complaints about the new package.
5. Student discounts are available to a select few.
Knocking $50 off the price on the digital package (more on that below) is a nice thing to do but you can’t limit it to a few schools. Here’s who the lucky ones are: Texas, Washington, USC, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Alabama, Syracuse, Ohio State and Harvard. As if Arizona and Arizona State fans needed another reason to hate on USC. This should be a wider offering but we get that it becomes subject to potential fraud if you open it to, say, every Division I school.
4. Only the top of the line package has the fantasy goodies.
Fantasy football is literally a billion dollar a year business in America. DirecTV has this thing called Fantasy Zone which supposedly gives live looks at fantasy plays. Well, with a bajillion different ways to play fantasy football, how will they do this? Are they going to show every reception for PPR leagues? How does this mesh with the Red Zone channel? DirecTV should do more to reach out to fantasy players and put it in every package–they could be the biggest target on this product since they want to see how their stud running back is kicking butt on Sunday. But if you want it, you need to be ready to shell out $329.99 to get it. Besides, you could get slightly-delayed stats on practically every major sports site on the internet or where your fantasy league is hosted.
3. The console-only package is a poor idea.
There are a lot of things that get streamed over video game consoles today like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime movies. DirecTV thinks that people will want to do the same with the NFL. Except that it’s a crappy idea.
First, they only support XBox One so gamers who are still on the 360 because of the cost are apparently going to be left out in the cold. Add to that there still is no fantasy goodness and no Red Zone channel and it doesn’t make sense why people would want to pay for it. Here’s the kicker on all of this: the package costs $239.99 and you can only watch from your console. You’ll see why this stinks below.
2. Blackout rules still apply.
This is utter crapola. If you’re plunking down the money to have the access to every game, then you should be able to see every game. But that’s not the case as these rules still apply. From the site:
DIRECTV is required to follow game availability rules set by the NFL, CBS, and FOX. Typically, you’ll receive all games outside your local market unless your local FOX or CBS station airs the game. A regular-season, Sunday-afternoon home game could also be blacked out if the game in the home team’s territory fails to sell out 72 hours before kickoff.
In special situations, a local station may decide at the last minute to air a different game, in which case we will change the NFL SUNDAY TICKET blackouts when permitted by the NFL. If a local station switches coverage due to a one-sided or extra-long game, we will lift the blackouts when permitted by the NFL, so that you will be able to watch the game.
Sports blackouts and game availability are controlled by the leagues, sports associations, and networks that purchase the rights to broadcast individual games. To protect their rights, we must enforce the availability mandated by them.
This reminds us of when the Arizona Cardinals didn’t have home games on television about a decade ago because they couldn’t sell out Sun Devil Stadium and the teams were plain bad then too. So it would still be possible if you had Sunday Ticket back then to still miss the Cardinals games here in Phoenix because of it. And yet you could still get stinkers like Jacksonville at Minnesota with no problem.
1. It’s called an HDMI Cable
The digital package at $199.99 is the best deal both in terms of dollars and common sense. We like the idea of being able to watch our favorite team anywhere including on tablets and smart phones. (The thought of that is going to make church services interesting in about two months.) The thing that DirecTV forgot about was that people could buy an HDMI Cable and make their laptop computers even better. You connect one end to the computer and the other end to that 55-inch flat screen high definition TV in the room and you’re set. Why anyone would do this through a console is beyond us. We looked on Amazon at 1:30 this morning and found HDMI cables that you can buy for less than $4 including shipping. Sure beats paying the extra $40 for the console version and its lack of portability.
It’s nice to see DirecTV loosening the reins on Sunday Ticket but it will be interesting to see how many subscribers they might lose from satellite service because of this.