I’ve received several unrelated e-mails regarding today’s week four of the NFL season so I thought I would try to answer most of them in one mail bag column. Let’s start with:
TV Answer Man, has DIRECTV fixed the NFL Sunday Ticket’s streaming service? It’s been buggy for three straight weeks. — Chase, Phoenix.
Chase, DIRECTV’s streaming version of the NFL Sunday Ticket had so many technical issues during weeks one and two of the season that the satcaster was forced to issue refunds. However, while numerous fans complained about similar problems during week three, DIRECTV says its system showed no significant glitches, meaning the issues were on the user’s end. (Faulty home Internet connections, etc.) Consequently, DIRECTV did not issue week three refunds. It will be interesting to see how the streaming Ticket performs today.
TV Answer Man, will there be any 4K games this week with the NFL? — Gene, Orlando, Florida.
Gene, once again, there will be no 4K games this week, as there were no 4K games in the first three weeks of the season. The networks continue to show a lukewarm attitude towards the format despite strong enthusiasm from some viewers. (But not enough viewers; 4K is still a niche technology.)
TV Answer Man, why doesn’t DIRECTV Stream carry the NFL Network? — Jamal, New Haven, Connecticut.
Jamal, that’s a popular question today with the NFL Network broadcasting the Saints-Vikings exclusively from London. Despite carrying nearly all regional sports channels, which is a rarity in the live streaming business, DIRECTV Stream does not carry the NFL Network, the league’s official channel which offers a mix of news, documentaries and live games.
This was not always the case. The NFL Network omission traces back to April 2019 when DIRECTV Stream was called DIRECTV Now and AT&T was the streamer’s sole owner. AT&T then was unable to secure a new carriage agreement with the NFL for the NFL Network or the NFL RedZone Channel, although it did so for DIRECTV, the satellite TV service. (DIRECTV still carries the NFL Network and has a RedZone Channel as part of the Sunday Ticket.)
At the time, AT&T was desperately seeking a way to make DIRECTV Now (name changed later to AT&T TV, and then again to DIRECTV Stream) financially viable. After the company was forced to raise prices to meet the rising cost of acquiring programming, subscribers began fleeing the service in droves. DIRECTV Now, which once had nearly two million subs, fell under one million.
AT&T concluded that it could no longer justify carrying the NFL Network, which has relatively high carriage fees compared to some other channels.
To learn more about DIRECTV Stream and the NFL Network, see our article here.
TV Answer Man, why doesn’t ESPN show the Monday Night Football games in 4K? They have college football in 4K. — Frank, Omaha, Nebraska.
Frank, I’ve written about this several times, but to reiterate, a 4K production requires more money, manpower, special equipment (including trucks) and other miscellaneous details. To overlay that on a nationally televised Monday Night Football game could cause significant disruptions and planning which ESPN obviously believes is not worth it. That weekly game is an important one for the network in ratings and advertising dollars and it doesn’t want to endanger that for 4K which ESPN executives believe (as most network executives believe) is watched by a very small audience.
TV Answer Man, will DIRECTV keep the NFL Sunday Ticket next year with Apple? — Neal, Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Neal, it’s not known at this time. Apple is the front runner to land the next Sunday Ticket contract, according to news reports, but DIRECTV has said it hopes to share the package with whatever streaming company gets it. That could mean it would continue offering it to bars and restaurants and/or rural communities which don’t have access to high-speed Internet.
My guess is that DIRECTV will be part of the Sunday Ticket next year, but its exact role is unclear.
If you have questions about the NFL on TV, or any TV technology issue, send it directly to the TV Answer Man with the form below:
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