As I type this, Colbie Caillat has just finished the National Anthem before the start of what Al Michael calls the best reality show on television – the National Football League. I love football. I’m a Patriots fan, and even though tonight’s game is between the Vikings and Saints doesn’t impact the Patriots I’m excited for the game. I’ve been tackling furniture all day. I can throw my remote in a perfect spiral to any point on my couch with pinpoint accuracy. I’m not alone in my excitement. People all over the United States are celebrating the start of the NFL in (likely) more sensible ways.
Unfortunately the NFL doesn’t make being a New England Patriots fan in San Francisco easy. For as long as I can remember, DirecTV has had exclusive rights to the out-of-market football games. Since I’ve moved to San Francisco, I’ve been renting, which means that installing the satellite dish that DirecTV requires was not an option. Oh how I longed for another option.
It seems that I should have been a little more careful about what I wished for. This year DirecTV created an Internet-only option. Finally, I could get NFL Sunday Ticket over my cable modem and hook it up to my TV via the HDMI out port on my computer.
It is a dream come true… except… for the price. As the title says, it’s $350 for the season. That’s outrageous… there’s no other word for it. In stark contrast to the NFL, Major League Baseball’s equivalent package is $119.95 a year. So a season of football is approximately 3 times as much as a season of baseball. Sound pricey? It gets worse. When I buy the baseball package, I get access to roughly 155 Boston Red Sox games (several are typically blacked out because they are on other networks) over a span of six months. I’m paying $0.77 a game for the ability to watch the game in my living room. However when I buy the NFL package, I get access to roughly 14 New England Patriots games (a couple are typically blacked for the same reason as the Red Sox ones). That is $25 a game. It seems an NFL game is more than 32 times more expensive than a baseball game.
Some sports fans out there may argue that I’m playing with the numbers a bit. For instance there are 17 weeks of regular season football. The games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights are available on other networks (NBC, ESPN). Realistically that gives the NFL super fan the ability to watch 34 games throughout the season… the games at 1PM EST and the games at 4PM EST on Sunday. However, the number of baseball games available to the MLB super fan is numbers in the hundreds with games at multiple times every day of the week from April to October… I’d estimate nearly 500 games a season.
The worst part is that there’s not much a consumer can do about the situation. NFL and its exclusive deal with DirecTV are essentially two monopolies. Not only is there no competition, but the most consumers don’t have the option to buy the actual product that they want the most. As I mentioned before, I’m only looking to watch my favorite team, the New England Patriots. DirecTV knows this. They have multiple advertising campaigns about displaced fans… I don’t think I’ve seen a one about someone who is just a general fan of the NFL who wants to watch any and every game regardless who is playing.
I’m not up on my monopoly rules, but if you are granted a legal monopoly, as I believe the NFL has been by the US government, shouldn’t you be required to offer a package that is appropriate to common fan’s desire? For example, a consumer should be able to pick their favorite team and get all their games for somewhere between $5 and $10 each.
What do you think? With the looming NFL labor strike next season, are you thinking boycott? I’m one of the game’s biggest fans, and I’m starting to think about it. The NFL needs a reality check. This seems to be the right time for consumers to deliver it.
Final Note: If you are giving into DirecTV’s exorbitant prices, consider using a DirecTV Promo Code to save some money.