In today’s mobile society there are many fans of a team (the New England Patriots, in this case) that do not live locally to their favorite team. Just a few years ago out of towners were limited to buying a day old Sunday Globe from a newsstand that specialized in out of town papers and perhaps a subscription to the Sporting News. Thanks to the internet it is now much easier to follow your favorite team from afar in terms of quantity and timeliness of sports news, analysis and opinions.
But one issue still remains for those relocated former New Englanders: watching the patriots play live. Local stations broadcast the local teams rather than the Pats, and for die hard fans that is not acceptable. For many a subscription to the Sunday Ticket from DirecTV is the answer; but is it worth it?
DirecTV does offer the Sunday Ticket for free to new subscribers, which is quite appealing. To do so you will need to commit to a two-year subscription that includes a mid-level cable subscription, and the Sunday Ticket will automatically show up on your bill the following year for $349. That package includes includes a mobile version of the ST on your computer, tablet, or phone; the Red Zone channel; and Short Cuts, which allows you to rewatch games in just 30 minutes. You can also opt for a scaled down version of the ST for $249 that does not include those three features. If you want the bare minimum cable subscription then you can add the ‘Max’ ST package for $299 or the basic ST option for $199.
Now let’s look at the Patriots’ 2012 schedule:
- Week 1 at Tennessee: available to about half the country
- Week 2 vs Arizona: limited over-the-air availability
- Week 3 at Baltimore: available to all on Monday Night Football
- Week 4 at Buffalo: limited availability
- Week 5 vs Denver: available in all but four markets
- Week 6 at Seattle: limited availability
- Week 7 vs Jets: available in all markets except Jacksonville and Bay area
- Week 8 vs Rams: limited availability
- Week 10 vs Bills: Fox doubleheader, limited availability
- Week 11 vs Colts: limited availability
- Week 12 at Jets: available to all Thanksgiving night
- Week 13 at Miami: limited availability
- Week 14 vs Texans: available to all with cable (espn) on Monday night
- Week 15 vs San Francisco: available to all on Sunday night
- Week 16 at Jacksonville: limited availability
- Week 17 vs Miami: limited availability
The games designated ‘limited availability’ are ones that most likely are not going to be broadcast into neutral markets; for the most part they are one of four regional games. There are nine of those, plus the week one game that is getting a bit larger distribution. Depending on where you live your local station will probably air two or three of these games. The six other games are going to be available to almost everyone, which means a typical out of town Pats fan will have access to eight or nine regular season games from the comfort of his own couch this year. Take the price of the Sunday Ticket package of your choice and divide by seven (or eight), and that is the price that you will be paying to see each Pats game that you would not otherwise be able to watch.
Everyone has their own financial situation, so there is no one absolute right or wrong answer to whether or not the Sunday Ticket is right for you. You might be able to split the cost with a fellow Pats fan for example. Or you may live in an area with large trees, or be part of a condo association that does not allow for the placement of the dish. on the other hand you may have a Pats sports bar nearby which allows you to cheer for the team with fellow fans – and end up spending less money than you would for the Sunday Ticket. Everybody’s situation is unique; however I did find it eye-opening to figure out just how much I would be paying for games that I would not have otherwise been able to view from home.
One other alternative to consider if you want to see all the pats games but Sunday Ticket is not an option for you: a Slingbox. You will need a friend or relative in the New England area for this to work. In a nutshell the slingbox is hooked up between their cable box and their television; whatever channel the box is tuned to (i.e., the Patriots game) you can watch at home or on your mobile device. Perhaps the most appealing feature of going this route is that you pay just once for the device of your choice and you are done: there are no recurring monthly subscription fees. Prices start at $99 for a refurbished unit and $179 for a new basic model.
So what do you as an out of town fan do when it comes to watching the Patriots? Sunday Ticket? Slingbox? Watch at a local Pats sports bar? Watch at a sports bar surrounded by fans of other teams? Wait for a replay on the NFL network? Watch the scrawl on the bottom of the screen during whatever other game happens to be on?
What do you do when it comes to watching the Patriots?
Follow on Twitter @AllThingsPats
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