Q. I know that YouTube TV and FuboTV now have the Red Zone Channel, but is there any way to get it without having to subscribe to a TV service that comes with other channels. I just want the Red Zone channel, nothing else. — Carl, Evanston, Illinois.
Carl, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Yes, you can get the Red Zone Channel without subscribing to anything besides the Red Zone Channel!
But there is a small catch.
Before I explain, a little background on the Red Zone Channel.
The channel offers live look-ins at NFL Sunday afternoon games when one team is inside its opponent’s 20-yard-line. If you don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket, it’s a great and relatively inexpensive way to follow the key action in all the games.
As you note, YouTube TV and FuboTV both offer the Red Zone Channel as part of a sports add-on package that will cost you $76 a month when you factor in the base programming plan as well. While that’s less than a subscription to the Sunday Ticket, which starts at $295, it’s not cheap, either.
DIRECTV also includes the Red Zone Channel in its Max Sunday Ticket plan, which costs $395, and it’s available on other pay TV services such as Comcast, Cox, Verizon, Charter and Optimum. But, again, you have to pay an additional fee for a sports package that includes it. (Note: The DIRECTV Red Zone Channel is a different production than the one found on other services; different hosts, views, etc.)
So, how can you watch the Red Zone Channel without getting other channels that you don’t want to pay for?
The NFL sells a separate streaming subscription to the Red Zone Channel, but it’s only available on its NFL app on Android and iOS smart phones. The cost is $34.99 (is that by month or for the year? See our update below).
Finding the Red Zone can be a bit tricky because it’s not advertised on the home page. Click on Settings in the app and you will see an option to subscribe to the NFL Red Zone Channel and Game Pass, a separate feature that costs $99.
I think the way NFL hides the Red Zone on its app is one reason why so few people are aware of this option. I’ve read several stories this week about streaming NFL games that didn’t mention that you could get a standalone subscription to the Red Zone Channel.
The catch, of course, is that you can only watch the channel on a phone if you subscribe separately via the app.
Update #1: On Monday, I asked Alex Riethmiller, an NFL spokesperson, for a clarification on the price. He said in a one-sentence e-mail that the price is “$34.99 a month through the app.”
However, the app continues to charge ‘$34.99 per year,’ not by the month. See a photo posted here on Twitter by one potential customer when he clicked on the subscribe button:
I asked Riethmiller for an explanation after his one-sentence e-mail, and he has not responded as of Monday evening. I also left two phone messages with him, but he has not responded to them, either.
In addition to the ‘$34.99 a year’ order page price, an NFL web page for the Red Zone, which was recently updated to note a 2019 Verizon offer for the Red Zone Channel no longer exists for 2020, also says the price is $34.99 a season. That was the price for last season as well.
I also asked Riethmiller for an explanation on this, and why the league would increase the price from $34.99 for the season to $34.99 a month — if it has.
I will update this story here if I get more information on this puzzling offer. Until then, it would appear that you only will be charged $34.99 for the year at checkout, not $34.99 a month.
Update #2: Brenna Webb, an NFL spokesperson, on Monday night has apologized for the confusion, saying the league was in error.
“Apologizes for the confusion,” she told the TV Answer Man in an e-mail. “The price for NFL RedZone (at the app) is $34.99/year. The current copy saying $34.99/month is incorrect and our team is working to get it corrected on the marketing copy. Again, apologizes for the confusion this caused and thank you for bringing to our attention.”
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann