The NFL Sunday Ticket has become a particularly popular topic during the 2022 season for all the wrong reasons. DIRECTV’s streaming version of the Ticket has experienced so many technical snafus that the company has had to issue refunds to subscribers for both weeks. (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.)
However, there’s no doubt that Sunday Ticket subscribers will tune in again this week to catch all the out-of-market games (or at least try to), particularly the matchup between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers at 4 p.m. ET.
So if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket, or you are thinking of getting it, there are 14 things you need to know before the action starts at 1 p.m. ET.
1. Has the Price of the NFL Sunday Ticket Changed? Already?
Yes. DIRECTV lowered the price of the streaming edition of the Sunday Ticket after week two; the price has not changed since then. See our article for more details.
2. Did DIRECTV Issue Refunds For All the Technical Problems?
DIRECTV issued separate statements after both week one and two that said it would begin issuing refunds to the Ticket’s streaming subscribers who were affected. See our article for more details.
3. Does Any Pay TV Provider Besides DIRECTV Offer the Sunday Ticket?
No, since the Sunday Ticket’s first year in 1994, DIRECTV has had the exclusive rights from the NFL to sell the package. Most recently, the satcaster paid $12 billion in 2014 to carry the Ticket exclusively for eight years.
4. So I Can’t Get the Ticket From My Cable TV Provider?
That’s right. Your cable TV service might carry the Red Zone Channel, but not the Ticket. (The Red Zone Channel offers live look-ins at games when one team crosses its opponent’s 20-yard-line. You can also subscribe directly to the Red Zone channel at the NFL streaming app, but it’s only available on smart phones.)
5. Is There a Way to Get the RedZone Channel?
DIRECTV includes the RedZone Channel in the Ticket’s Max plan, which now costs $373 with the streaming edition. ($395 with the satellite version of Max). The satcaster does not offer the channel as a separate purchase or part of a regular programming bundle.
Dish, YouTube TV, Hulu Live and Sling TV today are offering free previews of the RedZone. The channel is also available on Verizon FiOS, Optimum, Spectrum TV, Comcast and Cox, but they are not offering free previews today. DIRECTV’s sister service, DIRECTV Stream, does not carry RedZone.
6. Does DIRECTV Stream Have the Ticket?
No. Only DIRECTV’s satellite service has the Ticket, not DIRECTV Stream. To find out why, click here.
7. Doesn’t DIRECTV Offer the Ticket For Free?
DIRECTV earlier this year offered the Ticket for free in e-mails to select existing subscribers. It’s unclear how many existing subscribers got the benefit nor why they did but others didn’t. But if you didn’t get the freebie e-mail, you have to pay.
In addition, DIRECTV includes the Ticket for free to new customers who order the satcaster’s Choice (or above) plan, which now start at $69.99 a month. However, note that you must sign a two-year agreement to subscribe, and year two programming package prices nearly double.
8. Isn’t There a Way to Get the Ticket Without DIRECTV?
Yes. DIRECTV’s streaming edition of the Sunday Ticket is available to university students, people who were enrolled in a college within the last 18 months, people who can prove they can’t get DIRECTV at their residences, and people who “live in select areas within various metropolitan cities.”
That last qualifier — people who live in select areas within various metropolitan cities — has been the topic of some discussion in the last few years. A DIRECTV spokesman told the TV Answer Man in 2020 that the “various metropolitan cities” included 29 different markets where people were eligible for the streaming Sunday Ticket (cost is the same as the satellite version) even if they can get DIRECTV at their residences. That could mean that you could get the Ticket without a DIRECTV subscription, and without being a university student or living in a residence where you can’t get DIRECTV.
However, the spokesman would not elaborate on exactly who in those 29 markets were eligible. After we reported the statement, several non-DIRECTV subscribers sent us e-mails saying they were able to subscribe while many more said they were deemed ineligible.
The bottom line is that it’s still uncertain whether you would be eligible in the 29 markets. The only sure way to determine that is to try the Sunday Ticket eligibility checker here. You can see the 29 markets here.
See video below: Can You Really Get the NFL Sunday Ticket Without DIRECTV?
9. If I’m Eligible, Which Streaming Devices Can I Use?
The Sunday Ticket app is available on numerous streaming devices including Roku and Fire TV. You can see a complete list here.
10. Will the Sunday Ticket Be Available In 4K?
No. The Sunday Ticket games have never been available in 4K, only high-def. This is not DIRECTV’s fault, however. The satcaster can only air a live sporting event in 4K if it’s offered in that format by the network that is broadcasting it. And to date, neither Fox nor CBS have ever produced a single NFL Sunday afternoon game in 4K. (The Sunday Ticket package only includes out-of-market Sunday afternoon games broadcast by CBS and Fox.)
There are no 4K games scheduled during week three on any of the networks carrying the games. And that includes the Packers-Buccaneers game.
11. If I Have DIRECTV, Will There Be a Free Preview Today?
Yes and no. DIRECTV held a free preview for its satellite subscribers during week one. But there will be no free preview today, or the rest of the season. However, there is a seven-day free trial for the streaming edition of the Sunday Ticket. (The free trial for the streaming plan requires you to first be deemed eligible to subscribe under the aforementioned rules.)
12. If I Can’t Subscribe, Is There a Way to Watch the Ticket In Bars?
Yes. DIRECTV has a Sports Bar Finder app that allows you to find every bar in your area that will show the Sunday Ticket. See more about the Bar Finder here.
See a demonstration of the Bar Finder below:
13. Does Anyone Know If DIRECTV Will Keep the Ticket After This Season?
DIRECTV has said it will not bid to renew its exclusive rights to carry the Ticket. However, company executives have said they would like to share the plan with whatever streaming company gets the next agreement.
The New York Times reported last week that Apple remains the front runner to land the next Ticket contract, but the newspaper adds that talks between the tech giant and the league have dragged.
14. Will DIRECTV’s Streaming Issues Hurt Apple’s Chances of Getting the Ticket In 2023?
The streaming companies, including Apple, are likely the only ones willing to pay what the league is asking for the next set of rights. (The New York Times says the NFL wants $2.5 billion a year, which is $1 billion more than what DIRECTV now pays.) Some fans may be screaming about streaming, but money talks the loudest. The next Ticket carrier will be a streaming company.
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