Right off the bat I’ll tell you I don’t know. If you’d asked me the question a few years ago, I’d have told you there was no chance. DIRECTV seems to have softened a little bit on the subject, so I’ll say the door is open, if only a tiny crack.
DIRECTV’s exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package brings every Sunday game to subscribers with no blackouts and no limitations. It’s been one of DIRECTV’s best sellers and giving it away for one year free really seems to bring in the new subscribers every fall. It’s turned into a streaming sensation, too, with even the base package bringing the ability to stream on your devices from anywhere. But not everyone wants the whole DIRECTV experience — there are plenty of cord-cutters who would love to get Sunday Ticket fairly and legally and use an antenna or streaming box for their other entertainment. That option isn’t open to most people.
DIRECTV does provide a workaround, if you qualify. If you are in a limited number of colleges or universities, or if you live in an area totally unserved by DIRECTV (like an apartment complex that doesn’t allow DIRECTV in) you can buy Sunday Ticket a la carte and stream it. I’m guessing that if you live in an underground cave with no ability to get a dish outside, you’d also qualify, but let’s be honest, that’s just weird.
So let’s look at this, big-picture style. DIRECTV does offer streaming of Sunday games. They have a system to let people buy it a la carte. To quote Jim Carrey, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
But it’s not much of a chance. The technical side of it seems to be buttoned down, but you really have to ask yourself why DIRECTV would want to do this a la carte. Why would they give you the ability to get NFL Sunday Ticket from them and everything else from Comcast? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, at least not now.
What about two years from now? We all know DIRECTV is planning a streaming-only service, in fact they’ll have three of them and one of them could be free. With AT&T’s network on their side, they could be contemplating a lot of choices. What about letting existing AT&T internet or AT&T Wireless (cell phone) subscribers buy Sunday Ticket as a streaming-only package? That would be a great way to entice people into AT&T stores. I could definitely see a move like that as DIRECTV gets more and more into streaming and AT&T looks to consolidate all its services together. Now that most carriers have moved away from two-year contracts, there isn’t a lot to keep a disgruntled Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint subscriber from switching if they can get live football. NFL Sunday Ticket could even be “zero rated” so it can be streamed without affecting data caps.
When you look at the big picture here, it really seems like there could be some opportunities for people to get NFL Sunday Ticket without getting DIRECTV service. Of course, the other side of that is that you can lock in a low rate that includes DIRECTV satellite TV by going to a 2-year contract with them, and then you would get the first year of NFL Sunday Ticket for free. That sounds like an even better deal to me anyway and I have a feeling that given the choice, most people would agree. But if you’re really one of those mythical people who doesn’t even own a TV, or if you’re dead set against a cable bill… I really think there’s a possibility there.