TV Answer Man, I read today that DIRECTV may have screwed up the NFL Sunday Ticket yesterday on purpose because it won’t have it next year. Is that true? I could see how they are short timers now so they won’t spend on technology to keep it running well. What say you? — Pete, Chicago. 

Pete, several live streaming services yesterday reported technical issues with NFL-related programming, including the NFL Sunday Ticket and the NFL RedZone Channel. At one point, DIRECTV actually advised people who were watching the Ticket online to watch it on satellite instead. (DIRECTV’s Sunday Ticket satellite subscribers get free access to the streaming version as well; it’s also available to some non-DIRECTV subscribers as a separate subscription.)

“We’re aware some customers (have been) unable to access NFL Sunday Ticket online or through the app. In the meantime, we recommend satellite customers to watch on TV,” DIRECTV said.

Since the Ticket’s technical glitches came on the first Sunday of the 2022 season, some angry customers theorized that DIRECTV did not invest in the technology necessary to deliver a smooth experience because it knows it will lose the package next season. (DIRECTV has said it does not plan to bid for the next Ticket contract. The company’s current exclusive agreement with the league expires after the 2022 season.)

The conspiracy theory actually made its way into an UPI article today detailing the first-day meltdown.

“Some have speculated that the problems on Sunday might be related to DIRECTV losing NFL Sunday Ticket after this season, that the satellite carrier hasn’t been motivated to fix the technological issues that contributed to Sunday’s troubles,” UPI wrote.

Pete, I can understand the fan frustration, but the suggestion that DIRECTV purposely allowed the online Ticket to perform badly is ridiculous. The satcaster has more motivation now than ever to prove that it has superior technology because it wants (at least) to share the bar/restaurant Ticket business with whatever streaming company gets the package next season. (DIRECTV has already partnered with Amazon to deliver its Thursday Night Football games this season to bars and restaurants.)

The first week Sunday Ticket glitches doesn’t help its cause.

It also needs to be noted that DIRECTV has had issues with the streaming edition of the Ticket in the past, as other companies have had with all types of live streaming programming. Yesterday’s problems were not new or totally unexpected. Live streaming is still an unreliable delivery method, particularly with high-profile events.

So Pete, I think you can put that theory to rest. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann