By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I am a NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber and I want to complain! Yesterday, we wanted to watch the Cowboys but it wasn’t on our local channel or the Ticket because the Commanders game went into overtime. I thought if the game was not on your local channel, it’s supposed to be on the Sunday Ticket! I want my money back! — Lionel, town withheld.
Lionel, for starters, there are no refunds with the NFL Sunday Ticket. But let me try to explain what happened yesterday. However, before I do, I should note that YouTube’s presentation of the NFL Sunday Ticket has been relatively error-free in its first year since taking over from DIRECTV. There have been few reported picture interruptions or freezing. And the streaming delay has been in the 15-20 second range compared to the usual 30-60 seconds that live streams are behind real time action.
But YouTube’s streak of success hit a wall yesterday a little after 4 p.m. ET when the day’s late afternoon games were scheduled to begin. The Washington Commanders-Philadelphia Eagles game, which began at 1 p.m. ET, ran late because it went into overtime. However, because the game was still on at 4:25 p.m. ET, many local affiliates did not begin showing the New England Patriots-Dallas Cowboys game as scheduled. When they were unable to watch the game on local channels, NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers scrambled to scroll through their Ticket lineups to look for the Cowboys-Patriots game. However, it was not there because the game was scheduled to be on the local channel.
“Hey @SundayTicket how come I can’t find the DALLAS COWBOYS vs NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS anywhere??? Picking the game shows me Eagles Commanders. It’s now 4:40 and I can’t find Cowboys game anywhere,” wrote Michael Strawn on X.
“I thought @YouTubeTV was better than @DIRECTV on Sunday Ticket until today. Not being able to watch the #Cowboys because the early game went into OT is unacceptable. Directv had other options. #dobetter,” added Jim Allen on X.
Some fans also lamented that if the Cowboys-Patriots game was not scheduled to be on a local channel in their market, they still couldn’t watch it on the Ticket because the Ticket channel slated for the game was still showing the Commanders-Eagles game.
“@YouTubeTV why can not watch the Cowboys game right now when I pay for Sunday Ticket? I click on it and it takes me to the Eagles game even though I should have every game, ” wrote Kayla Schueller on X.
At 4:40 p.m. ET, YouTube’s X customer support team wrote this: “The availability of games/program on YouTube TV depends on our content partner’s discretion. if you haven’t yet, you can look into your Live guide for program schedules: goo.gle/3EYebzt”
That didn’t satisfy the fans. “I’m right there with you. Sunday Ticket won’t show the game your local affiliate is showing. It’s not smart enough to know the previous game is running long so it thinks you are getting the (Cowboys) game already,” wrote Christian Daniels on X. But Michael Strawn responded with this: “I understand the mechanics. It’s the execution that sucks.”
YouTube, of course, is bound by the local blackout rule, just as DIRECTV was when it carried the Sunday Ticket. If the game is available on a local channel, it can not show it as part of the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games. The Cowboys-Patriots game was supposed to be on many local channels. Ergo, no Ticket for that game. But if you’re paying from $349 to $489 for the package, you’re entitled to think you should get any game that’s NOT ACTUALLY on that local channel. Perhaps in the future, the Google engineers will incorporate a mechanism that will allow Ticket viewers to watch parts of game with their package until the game shows up on the local channel.
Lionel, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann