It appears DirecTV’s stranglehold on NFL Sunday Ticket has begun to loosen, which is great news for those who don’t subscribe to the satellite service provider but also want to possess the ability to watch out-of-market games of their choice throughout the football season.
Introducing NFLSundayTicket.tv, which will provide customers access to Sunday Ticket on computers and select tablets and mobile devices for between $200 and $330, depending on your circumstances.
The second clause in that sentence indicates there’s a catch. In fact, there are several catches.
Predictably, because DirecTV pays the NFL $800 million a year in order to exclusively carry Sunday Ticket, they aren’t going to open themselves up to the possibility of losing customers who continue to subscribe entirely or primarily so that they can watch any NFL game they want 17 Sundays a year.
No, as the promotional page above states:
Now you can stream live, out-of-market NFL games on your favorite device without a DIRECTV satellite TV subscription if you live in an apartment building where DIRECTV service is not available, attend one of these universities, or live in the following metro areas: New York City, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.
The schools listed are the University of Washington, University of Texas (Austin), USC, Michigan (Ann Arbor), Florida, Colorado (Boulder), Alabama, Syracuse, Ohio State and Harvard. Those lucky students can get Sunday Ticket online or on their Apple or Android devices for $199.99. There’s an intermediate pricing option for game consoles only for $239.99 and a max price plan of $329.99, which includes a wide array of bells and whistles.
This is the first time a semi-wide range of folks without DirecTV have been granted this access, but so long as that conglomerate is shelling out nearly a billion dollars a year for the right to air every Sunday afternoon game, there’s no way they’ll cave any further than this. If you want Sunday Ticket and have the ability to order DirecTV, chances are you’ll have to do so.
But DirecTV’s contract with the league is set to expire later this year, so there’s no telling where Sunday Ticket might go next.
Regardless, the current trajectory is encouraging for those who hope to one day cut the cord on DirecTV while still maintaining the ability to game-surf on Sundays. Networks and cable and satellite providers have to know that the internet will win this battle and that streams will eventually become the primary way in which we consume sporting events. It’ll just take some time for them to adjust their strategies so that they can keep profiting regardless of the medium we use in order to watch games.