The headline that DirecTV wants people to read is that its much-coveted exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package is finally available as an online-only offering to non-DirecTV customers, but the satellite provider has been selling it that way for years. What’s really new about NFLSundayTicket.TV is that it’s going to cost users a lot more and fewer customers will have access to it.
For years, all someone who wanted the online-only NFL Sunday Ticket had to do was pay for a subscription (usually about 1/3-1/2 the price of the full satellite package) and check off a box pinky-swearing that they lived in a building where they weren’t able to get DirecTV, either because the landlord wouldn’t allow it or because it didn’t have access to the needed sightline for the dish.
Heck, last year you could get the full online-only Sunday Ticket for about $90 if you bought a certain version of the Madden NFL video game — and that price included the cost of the $60 game, so if you were buying Madden anyway, you got Sunday Ticket for $30.
But now, the Internet-only version of Sunday Ticket will run you at least $200. That only gives you access to watching games on your phone, tablet, or computer; no using a gaming console to get the service on your TV.
For $240, there’s a console-only version, which doesn’t include the computer/tablet/phone access. So you can get Sunday Ticket on your TV, but you can’t take it with you on the road.
Oh, and neither of these packages have one of Sunday Ticket’s more desirable offerings — the Red Zone channel, i.e., the channel you watch when your team isn’t playing and you hate commercials.
No, if you want Andrew Siciliano to flip back and forth between the best parts of games for you, you’ll need to ante up for the full $330 package, which includes console and device access, and Sunday Ticket.
But wait — it gets worse.
Previously, anyone anywhere could buy the online-only package. But now, it’s limited to very specific conditions.
According to DirecTV, you must “live in an apartment building where DIRECTV service is not available, attend one of only 10 universities (don’t worry — Harvard is included), or live in the following metro areas: New York City, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.
But when GigaOm’s Jank Roettgers tested his eligibility with his SF-area address, the website told him he was ineligible. So who knows exactly where they are drawing the lines; whether one must be in the defined limits of these three cities or the metro area or the designated marketing area used to determine TV markets.
Either way, DirecTV is basically telling online-only customers that if they don’t want to pay for satellite service, they’re going to pay almost as much as satellite subscribers for Sunday Ticket.