Pigskin fans rejoice! You no longer need to pay for a full DirecTV subscription to get NFL Sunday Ticket. Now, DirecTV offers a streaming video option specifically for people who want to watch the games without having to get the company’s TV service.
We got to spend some time with the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package, which is officially dubbed NFL Sunday Ticket.tv. We may be tech geeks here at DT, but a big bunch of us love football too. So, when DirecTV announced that it was going to be offering a streaming video option starting this season, we could barely contain our excitement.
We couldn’t wait to check it out. Now that we have, we’re sharing our thoughts and impressions with you. We played with the service using a computer, but even the lowest-tiered plan also lets you watch using a smartphone or a tablet.
So, here’s what we think of DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package, and what you should know.
Kicking off with Sunday Ticket
Getting started with the service is pretty simple. Once an account is set up, all we have to do is log in, and we’re immediately presented with a video player, along with a scoreboard, and other options.
Navigating through the interface is simple, and self-explanatory. Want to watch a specific game? Just click on it on the scoreboard. If it’s in progress, it will switch right to it. If it hasn’t started yet, but kickoff is close, you may be treated to pre-game coverage.
Want to select a different game? Just click on that, and the switch is on again. Switching from one game to another just takes a few seconds, so you’ll miss very little action during the delay.
Not only do you get access to all out of market NFL games, but with the highest-tiered package, you can also watch the NFL Network’s RedZone Channel, and the Fantasy Zone channel as well.
Video quality and experience
Games look very crisp and sharp with NFL Sunday Ticket.tv. We never experienced any stuttering, and audio sounds excellent as well. This doesn’t surprise us in the least, but what we didn’t expect to find is the multiple viewing. options that NFL Sunday Ticket.tv offers.
Game Mix allows you to split your screen between four different games, allowing you to watch all of them at the same time.
You can, of course, watch games in regular full-screen mode, and we suspect that most people who subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket.tv will do just that. However, there are two other modes to choose from. Game Mix allows you to split your screen between four different games, allowing you to watch all of them at the same time.
If four games is too many for you, there’s also a Picture in Picture mode. You can select a primary game, which will take up most of the space in the video player, and then select another game to populate the much smaller in-picture window.
Keep in mind that you can only watch out of market games with this service, which is a standard practice with all sports streaming services. Also, only games played on Sunday can be watched with this service. Thusday Night Football and Monday Night Football games are not included with this service. At least NFL games played on Thursday night are broadcast on local CBS TV stations.
Trouble in football paradise
We like the fact that DirecTV offers NFL Sunday Ticket.tv users multiple viewing options, but Game Mix and Picture in Picture mode both suffer from one big flaw.
If you select either of them, and then try to put the player in full screen mode, NFL Sunday Ticket.tv will just default to your primary game and put that in full screen mode. It will also undo the other options you selected.
In other words, you can’t watch Game Mix or Picture in Picture in full screen mode. That’s a shame, especially if you plan to get this package, put it on a laptop, and hook it up to your TV via HDMI.
Highlights and stat tracking done right
On the plus side, NFL Sunday Ticket.tv handles game highlights pretty well. If you’re watching a game, and something big happens in another contest, a notification will pop up on the bottom of the video player. It will provide you with a brief summary of what happened, including the game, team, player, and action involved.
If you click on the notification, you’ll be taken from the game you’re currently watching, to a clip that shows you that highlight. We love the fact that, once the clip is over, you’ll be automatically sent back to the game you were originally watching without any additional input required from you.
Below the video player, you’ll find four tabs. Highlight Central contains a list of recent highlights which you can watch just by clicking on them, and behaves the same way that the aforementioned pop-up notifications do. Stats & Standings lets you track player stats by game, and gives you a look at division standings. My Players allows you to take a look at a player’s individual stats in real time, while Fantasy Hub lets you track your fantasy team without having to open a separate browser tab or window to do so. We’ll get deeper into that last item in a moment.
Simply put, these tabs make it easy to keep track of games and players all from a single page.
Fantasy integration is not quite dreamy yet
As we just mentioned, Fantasy Hub lets you track your fantasy team from NFL Sunday Ticket.tv in real time. However, it currently has some limitations that keep it from being a big winner.
Its biggest flaw is the fact that it only works with NFL.com’s fantasy league. If you use any other fantasy sports service, whether it’s Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, or whatever, you’re out of luck.
Aside from that, there doesn’t appear to be a way to adjust your roster at all once you’re plugged in. However, we suspect that DirecTV will add these features over time. For now, this is a decent start, but Fantasy Hub has a long way to go before it can be considered a one stop shop for all your fantasy needs that keeps you from having to pull your eyes away from whatever game you’re watching.
Price and conclusion
The base NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package costs $200, and lets you stream to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The next level up costs $240, and gives you the ability to stream to your video game console only. The highest-tiered plan, which carries a $330 price tag, lets you stream to all of those devices.
We’re not sure why anyone would go for any option other than the $200 plan. We seriously doubt that anyone who has a console doesn’t also own a computer that’s capable of streaming video, which isn’t a particularly demanding task. It’s worth noting that the $330 plan gives you access to the Red Zone and Fantasy Zone channels, which the other two plans do not. If you can live without these channels, you should just opt for the $200 version.
This is the inaugural season for the DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.tv service, and while it’s not without blemishes, this is the best option you have for getting your football fix at a reasonable price, especially compared to what you’d pay for a full DirecTV package with Sunday Ticket added onto it.
Also, when you consider how much it costs to go to a game, or the amount of money you might spend on food and/or drinks at a bar to watch a game or two, the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package’s value rises even further skyward.
We expect this service to get better in future seasons, and the limitations with its video player and fantasy league integration do hold it back considerably. If they’re eventually improved, the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package will ascend to become the perfect option for watching all the out of market football games you can while spending a modest sum of money.
In the meantime, NFL Sunday Ticket.tv has to get by with merely being awesome.
- Lets you watch almost any out of market NFL game
- Excellent image and sound quality
- Features fantasy integration, highlights, stats tracking in real time
- Compatible with computers, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles
- Video player doesn’t allow full screen mode for Game Mix or Picture in Picture
- Fantasy integration limited to NFL.com fantasy leagues
- In-market games are not available
- Higher-priced tiers don’t offer significantly more functionality