TV Answer Man, a buddy got an e-mail saying DIRECTV is giving away the Sunday Ticket for free this year. I didn’t get the e-mail and I’ve had DIRECTV for 10 years. Are they giving it away for free? Is my buddy joking with me? — Carl, Reno, Nevada. 

Carl, your friend may be telling the truth, but that doesn’t mean you will get the 2021 NFL Sunday Ticket for free. Let me explain.

Several DIRECTV subscribers yesterday posted messages on social media sites saying they received e-mails from the satcaster indicating they will get the Sunday Ticket’s Max package for free during the 2021 season. The Max plan, which includes the RedZone Channel and Fantasy league channel, normally costs $395. (The Ticket’s base plan, which costs $293, does not include those two channels. Both plans include access to the streaming edition of the Ticket.)

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“Grab your face paint. The 2021 NFL Sunday Ticket Max is yours,” the e-mail states. “DIRECTV will celebrate this season of NFL Sunday Ticket Max by giving it to you, our loyal fans, at no cost.”

The e-mails generated a significant reaction on social media with some DIRECTV subscribers saying the popular football package was being gifted to every existing customer.

However, DIRECTV has confirmed to the TV Answer Man that only “select customers” are getting Sunday Ticket for free. The satellite TV service won’t explain who is getting it for free, or how many existing subscribers are getting it for free. But this is similar to last year when DIRECTV also provided free Sunday Ticket plans to select subscribers.

“We sometimes provide additional perks to our loyal customers as a way to say thank you,” an AT&T spokesman told the TV Answer Man last year.

AT&T this week announced that its sale of 30 percent in DIRECTV to private equity firm TPG has closed, allowing it to form a separate company for DIRECTV that will be jointly owned by AT&T and TPG. But the free Sunday Ticket has nothing to do with the new DIRECTV. This is just a continuation of a loyalty program from 2020.

The free Sunday Ticket for existing customers also is different from DIRECTV including the plan in certain packages for new customers, which it has done for several years.

Last note: The free Sunday Ticket is only being gifted to DIRECTV subscribers, not AT&T TV customers. The Sunday Ticket is not available on AT&T TV, which will soon be renamed, DIRECTV Stream.

Carl, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann