Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday Ticket: Most of the games, most of the time (unless we change our mind)

Unreal. I subscribe to DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket so that I can watch the 49ers each weekend. Though their play this year wouldn’t seem to justify committing three hours a week to them, I actually enjoy watching them play.

Living in Chicago, Sunday Ticket would be a good answer, right? After all, you get to watch every NFL game no matter where you live!

Except you don’t. If your local affiliate decides to carry a particular game, then DirecTV blocks it from Sunday Ticket. Well, theoretically that’s fine: you just watch the game on the local channel.

But because the Niners (God bless ‘em) are losing by too many points right now, my local affiliate decided to switch to the Eagles/Bills game. And when I try to pick up the Niners on their DirecTV channel, I’m told that the channel’s not available in my area.

I just spent a half hour on hold waiting for customer service (last week, during a similar problem, they hung up on me!) — only to be told that “there’s nothing DirecTV can do about it.” I escalated to a supervisor, who informed me that the NFL changed the terms of the agreement in the off-season (it used to be that you could watch all games each weekend, regardless of what the local carriers decided).

So here’s the thing: I’m now paying $200+ for a subscription to games that may or may not be available. Even if they are available (via the local affiliate), if the local affiliate decides to switch games, then I can’t watch the game at all.

So — the subscription automatically renews each year (unless you inform DirecTV you’re cancelling before the season starts). The NFL can change the terms under which the subscription operates — without explicit notification to the subscribers. And lucky for me, the subscription even went up in the off season. So I’m paying more for less.

This feels like deceptive behavior on DirecTV’s part, at the least. I’m sure I’m not the only customer who’s similarly frustrated (according to the customer service rep, they’re getting “tons of calls” about this each weekend).

Since they’re telling me I can’t cancel (there are no refunds for Sunday Ticket subscriptions), is there anything I can do? Anyone else similarly affected?


  1. I know it is frustrating. Still, I have to say that your are indeed a die-hard 49'ers fan if you would have watched this game to the end. By the way, if you like losing efforts I invite you to tune in to the Saints-Colts game, which is on ESPN tonight.

  2. You didn't miss much by not seeing all of the 49ers game, unless you also happen to be a Vikings fan.

  3. Yeah, the irony in all of this is that DirecTV just accelerated my frustration... and, if I really want to be a silver-lining type guy, I could just say that they saved me 90 minutes by letting me get angry early in the 3rd quarter instead of letting it build up over the entire game...


  4. Just a thought, but the NFL has developed and will be rolling out the NFL Channel very shortly. I have heard rumblings that they might chose to switch a great deal of not only their own orginal programming (Classic games, NFL Films etc..) to that channel, but might also be airing games as well.

    However, it still is incredibly frustrating that the vehicle that you have invested in to support your team will not allow you to do that - very strange and huge mistake on the NFL's behalf.

  5. Dude, you are right need to check this article out...

    He hits the nail on the head, and he is big enough to do something about it!!!!