Since the advent of television, football has taken over baseball to become America’s most-watched spectator sport. This immense popularity has turned the National Football League (the NFL) into a multi-billion dollar organization, employing tens of thousands and creating a gigantic economy around what used to be little more than a backyard sport.
Currently, the NFL has structured deals with various networks (primarily Fox, CBS, and NBC) for the broadcasting rights to their games. In order to put these games out without having to make a new channel for every team, networks divide broadcasts into markets. This means that – if you live in Northeast Ohio, you’re likely going to see the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, not the San Francisco 49ers.
However, what if the Browns game is a blowout and the 49ers game goes into nail-biting overtime? ESPN, which is largely responsible for bringing sports highlights to the forefront of TV culture, has made people hungry for the best games, the most exciting action, and the most divisive rivalries.
How does one get it all?
The answer is the NFL Sunday Ticket. For die-hard fans, fantasy football players, and sports betters, the NFL Sunday Ticket is the key to watching any game you want at any time. The price, however, is quite steep, and it requires a subscription to DirecTV. In the following article, we’ll take a close look at the NFL Sunday Ticket, its features, its pros, and its cons. In the end, we’ll attempt to answer the question:
Is it worth it?
What is the NFL Sunday Ticket?
The NFL Sunday Ticket is a sports package offered by DirecTV, a subsidiary of AT&T Inc. It is an out-of-market package, which means that it allows viewers to watch any Sunday afternoon game produced by Fox and CBS, regardless of the broadcast market in which they live. Originally geared toward fans who moved away from their favorite team, the Sunday Ticket is currently used by tens of thousands of households.
As technology has improved over the years, DirecTV has added many new features to its Sunday Ticket offerings. Aside from simply letting people switch at will between out-of-market games, viewers can now watch any game on their tablet, laptop, and phone. There are also upgrades like Red Zone Channel, which shows all imminent scores in any live game,
DirecTV has also introduced an NFL Sunday Ticket app, which you can pair with your NFL.com fantasy league to keep track of stats and scores while you watch the games. You’ll also get highlight alerts when your Fantasy Players score points, and even watch them with a single click. These are just some of the features currently included with the Sunday ticket.
NFL Sunday Ticket Costs
Pricing out the cost of the NFL Sunday Ticket is a bit of a struggle, as some monthly DirecTV packages include it at signup as a form or promotion. Below, we’ll do our best to outline the various costs of a season of NFL Sunday Ticket, Sunday Ticket Max, and Sunday Ticket U. We’ll also provide some comparative analysis on the types of Sunday Tickets Available.
DirecTV (Basic Package)
- Cost: $49.99 and up
- Features: Varies
As we mentioned earlier, if you want to have the NFL Sunday Ticket as an option at all, you first have to have a DirecTV service plan. These plans vary dramatically depending on the number of channels you want and the features you prefer, but they generally start at around $49.99 per month. If you’re pursuing the NFL Sunday Ticket, you first need to factor this price into your costs.
NFL Sunday Ticket
- Season Cost: $293.94
- Per Month Cost: $73.49
- Features: Stream live out-of-market games, Sunday Ticket App, Commentary and Analysis
Here is the basic NFL Sunday Ticket package, which consists of a four-month plan or a month-to-month option. To purchase the entire season up-front, you will have to pay around $294 plus an activation fee. If you choose to go month-to-month, the cost is roughly $74, which you can add to your monthly DirecTV bill. Either option gets you all live out-of-market games, the Sunday Ticket app, and bonus commentary.
NFL Sunday Ticket MAX
- Season Cost: $395.94
- Per Month Cost: $99
- Features: All NFL Sunday Ticket features, plus RED Zone, Fantasy Zone, and multi-device streaming
NFL Sunday Ticket MAX is the premium option for real superfans. It features the aforementioned Sunday Ticket perks, but also adds Red Zone, Fantasy Zone, and gives you the option to stream games on virtually any electronic device so you can watch games on the go. At $396 per season, this is no small investment, but if you’re into football enough to consider it, it will seem like chump change.
NFL Sunday Ticket U
- Season Cost: $80
- Per Month Cost: $20
- Features: College students can stream live, out-of-market season games on computers, tablets, etc.
If you’re a valid college student who’s moved out of their home market but still wants to root for your home team, NFL Sunday Ticket U is the way to go. At only $80 for a season, you can stream live out-of-market regular-season games on any connected streaming device (tablet, computer, smartphone, game console). This is a discount for those pursuing higher education.
Sunday Ticket Pros and Cons
We’ve made it pretty clear that access to every single out-of-market season game is not going to come to you cheap. That said, trying to decide whether or not something is “worth it” will depend greatly on what each person considers to be a good value. For this reason, we’ve included a series of pros and cons that you can refer to quickly and easily when making your evaluation.
NFL Sunday Ticket Pros
- You get every single out-of-market game (around 150 games total).
- Tons of extras, analysis, and fantasy-related perks.
- You have the option to pay up-front or on a month to month basis. You can also try a seven-day free trial.
- You can watch your home team or any team you follow every week. You can also plan your entire Sunday around the games you want to watch.
- Some of the pricier DirecTV packages will include Sunday Ticket at no extra cost.
- If you love football, this is the best way to get access to all of the games you want.
- NFL Sunday Ticket MAX has additional features, such as the RED ZONE channel, the Fantasy Zone Channel, and the ability to skip commercials.
NFL Sunday Ticket Cons
- The Cost. You’re not getting out of this football season without spending around $300, even if you already have DirecTV.
- You better be sure to be at home every Sunday if you want to feel you’re getting your money’s worth.
- Most of the best perks (Red Zone, Fantasy Zone) are only available with NFL Sunday Ticket MAX, which costs even more.
- You must subscribe to DirecTV to even have the option for it.
- You only have access to regular season games. You will not receive any playoff games or the Superbowl.
Impressions and Results
Using the product is often the best way to evaluate whether or not something is truly worth the price. For our purposes, this included a 7-Day Free Trial of both NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Sunday Ticket MAX. In the following section, we’ll detail our first impressions, analysis, and evaluation of each product so that you can get a better idea of what you’d be purchasing.
Our first impressions of NFL Sunday Ticket are that it is extremely expensive. Especially as an add-on package to another fully-priced service, the idea of spending an additional $300 to $400 to watch football games (no matter how many) gives me a bit of pause. For many of you, I’m sure that there was a bit of “sticker shock” associated with reading this article as well.
That said, we have to consider who this product is for and why it has the features it has. This service is ultimately for people who are football fanatics (either for one team or the sport in general). These men and women know that the average price to a single football game is around $151, which makes the up-front pricing of NFL Sunday tickets seem not so bad in comparison.
As for the impressions of the DirecTV product itself, the NFL Sunday Ticket features a smooth interface and easy navigation from game to game. The extra features are easy to access as well, ensuring that viewers are never at a loss for gameplay, analysis, or statistics.
Using the Product
The following section is a report on each version of NFL Sunday Ticket, minus the Sunday Ticket U, which is not available for review. We hope that the information presented here will better allow you to choose between the various services.
NFL Sunday Ticket
Using DirecTV’s slick interface, NFL Sunday Ticket allows you to easily switch between all out-of-market games broadcast on any given Sunday. There are also special channels where you can find expert commentary on games and fantasy player analysis, which will come in handy to anyone running a fantasy team or planning on doing any betting.
The addition of the NFL Sunday Ticket app means that you can take the game with you pretty much anywhere if you’re not home to watch the games. You will also have access to video playback features if you want to rewatch that highlight or see that touchdown one more time. Lastly, you can connect your package to your NFL.com fantasy league and receive alerts when one of your players scores points.
If you’re a big football fan, chances are you won’t balk at the price of a season of NFL Sunday Ticket. The opportunity to invite your friends over for the day and to easily switch between out-of-market games you’d otherwise miss makes this a sound investment. In my opinion, the NFL Sunday Ticket Package has the potential to make Sundays a lot more fun and a lot less frustrating.
NFL Sunday Ticket MAX
NFL Sunday Ticket MAX takes the “superfan” standard set by NFL Sunday Ticket and raises the stakes even higher. For an extra $100, you get an array of bonus features that are sure to make any football fan foam at the mouth. One of the most notable differences is the RED ZONE channel, a channel that switches from game to game whenever a score is imminent.
Other major benefits to the MAX upgrade are Short Cuts, which allow you to skip commercials, and the DirecTV Fantasy Zone, a unique channel that features real-time stats, player updates, and projection to help you strengthen your fantasy game. Last but not least, MAX gives you the ability to stream games on laptops, tablets, and consoles at no extra cost.
In my opinion, MAX is a must for anyone who is deep into Fantasy Football or who just really enjoys statistics, player data, and analysis. It is also a great investment for anyone who wants to watch Football but doesn’t know if they’re going to be home every single Sunday.
Conclusion: Is It Worth It?
All things considered, DirecTV has done a great job of packing its NFL Sunday Ticket package full of features and benefits that serious football fans will love. Again, note that we’re saying SERIOUS football fans. If you’re just a casual watcher of the sport, the ability to watch every single out-of-market game and study up on fantasy data will likely do nothing to justify the price of the ticket.
In short: The NFL Sunday Ticket is absolutely worth it, providing you are a big enough fan of the sport to enjoy every Sunday glued to the TV.