DIRECTV is providing the NFL Sunday Ticket package for free to at least some existing customers, according to a few dozen subscriber posts at social media sites such as DBS Talk, Satellite Guys and Twitter.

The subscribers say they’ve received e-mails this week saying they will receive the 2020 Sunday Ticket Max plan for free as thanks for being a DIRECTV customer.

“You’re getting 2020 NFL Sunday Ticket Max On Us,” the e-mail begins. “Thanks for being a DIRECTV customer! We don’t want you to miss a single play this season. With 2020 NFL Sunday Ticket Max, you can catch every minute of every out-of-market game every Sunday — on us.”

The Sunday Ticket Max plan, which normally costs $395 a year, includes the out-of-market NFL games as well as the Red Zone Channel and the capacity to stream the games on various devices. The Ticket’s base plan, which costs $293, does not include the Red Zone Channel nor the streaming feature.

For the past few years, DIRECTV has included the Sunday Ticket for free in certain packages for new customers. What’s unclear is whether the satcaster is now doing the same for all existing customers, or just some based on their past histories such as how long they’ve been a customer and how much they spend.

DIRECTV in 2014 signed an eight-year deal with the NFL to exclusively carry the Sunday Ticket for a reported $12 billion. Considering the carriage cost, it would seem unlikely that DIRECTV would give the Ticket for free to all subscribers. The TV Answer Man has asked AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, for an explanation and will report back here if we get one.

Update: AT&T spokesman Jim Greer said today “we sometimes provide additional programming or perks to our loyal customers as a way to say thank you.

He did not comment specifically on whether the Sunday Ticket will be offered to all existing subs.

Update #2: Greer has added that not all existing subs will get the free Sunday Ticket.

The free Sunday Ticket could be part of AT&T’s effort to keep more DIRECTV subscribers from dropping service. The telco reported this week that DIRECTV and U-verse combined for a net loss of 897,000 subscribers in the first quarter. The two services have lost seven million customers since AT&T purchased DIRECTV in 2015.

For at least one customer, the free Sunday Ticket is already working:

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— Phillip Swann