Program Alert: “A Football Life – Bill Belichick” will air Wednesday July 10 on the NFL Network from 8:00-10:00 pm ET, and repeat at midnight.
Back when the NFL released the 2013 schedule, many out of town fans immediately wonder how many games they will get to see, and whether it is worth it to subscribe to the Sunday Ticket. For those pondering the value, here is a look at how many games Pats fans in every market outside of New England should expect to be able to see from the comfort of their own living room on their local stations.
But first, consider this: right now you can get the Sunday Ticket for just $99.99.
If you pre-order a copy of the Madden 25th Anniversary Edition video game at Amazon, you can get the NFL Sunday Ticket for the full 17 week season on your computer, tablet or mobile device. Even if you don’t play video games that’s a great deal, in which case if you sell the game then your net investment is even less. Something else to consider: as long as both your computer and television are relatively new you should be able to watch those games on your tv by connecting from your computer’s video output to your television’s input with an HDMI cable.
If you’re still not sold then let’s take a look at how many Pats games you will be able to view at home if you live outside of New England … or more importantly, how many you will miss. For the tl: dr crowd, skip to the bottom four paragraphs.
First a few ground rules though. There are more than 200 television markets in the United States; I am not about to go through each and every one. Instead, I will go group those markets by whichever team the stations in those areas televise. For example, when I refer to Buffalo, that would be in reference to all the television markets that primarily air the Buffalo Bills games: the primary market of Buffalo, as well as the secondary markets of Rochester, Syracuse, Erie, Binghamton and Watertown. Two markets share a team (Raiders and 49ers; Giants and Jets), so that leaves the 29 markets below, besides those served by the stations in New England that broadcast the Patriots game every week.
Second, I am not going to speculate about what games will not sellout and result in a blackout. Sometimes that can be a good thing, resulting in that are showing a Pats game that would not have been televised. For example, if Tampa Bay does not sell out in week 15 then the Pats-Dolphins game will be broadcast in that area, but if the Bucs do sell out then that will not happen. On the other hand for the times a blackout results in the Pats not being broadcast wherever you are, all I can suggest is getting your butt over to the stadium and buying a ticket in order to see them in person! If the game is not sold out you will probably find a scalper willing to sell for less than face value as kickoff approaches.
Third, be aware of the other, lesser known blackout rule that the NFL employs. If a game does sell out, then it will be broadcast locally – but no other game can be televised at the same time. For example in week 5 the Pats are at Cincinnati on CBS, and CBS has the doubleheader that week (i.e., CBS can show both an early and a late game that week). With CBS having the doubleheader that increases the chances of you seeing the Pats as most areas will get to see two games on CBS and only one on FOX, but some markets will only get one CBS game due to this other blackout rule. In this case the Bears, Packers, Giants and Colts all play at home at 1:00 also, so in those four primary markets that will be the only game shown at that time.
Here is where it gets a little tricky: the rule above applies only to the primary television market. If a game does not sell out, then it is blacked for both the primary and secondary television market (i.e., within 75 miles of the stadium), but other stations beyond 75 miles that follow that team can air a game that is not sold out. When a game is sold out, the blackout rule that says no other competing game can be televised only applies to the primary station; a secondary market that is within 75 miles can go ahead and show another game (as can the others that follow that team that are beyond 75 miles, of course).
Looking at the 2013 schedule for the Patriots there are five night games, three late afternoon games, and eight early games. The five night games – week 2 versus the Jets, week 4 at Atlanta, week 11 at Carolina, week 12 versus Denver, and week 16 at Baltimore – will be available to everyone. The only exception would be for people within 75 miles of the stadium if one of those games does not sell out, and that is highly unlikely. There are also three late afternoon games that kickoff at 4:25 pm ET, a starting time which signals that they will be broadcast on the network that has the doubleheader that week; each of those games will be available almost everywhere, with those few exceptions noted below.
Week 6 at home versus the Saints, on FOX
The only other late game on FOX is Arizona at San Francisco, so those two markets won’t get the Pats game. FOX has a history of preferring to promote their NFC teams over games with AFC teams, but I think they will make an exception here. They might air the other game in other NFC West markets, but I seriously doubt that they make it an east-West split of the two games. On CBS Denver and Seattle are at home in late games, so they too will be blacked out, but everyone else should get to see this game.
Week 9 at home versus the Steelers, on CBS
Seattle and Oakland have the late home games on FOX, so the Pats game will be blacked out there. The other late game on CBS is Baltimore at Cleveland, so you are out of luck in those markets. I am guessing that CBS will broadcast the Pats – Steelers game everywhere else, with the exception of the stations that carry the Ravens and Browns every week.
Week 13 at the Houston Texans, on CBS
Buffalo and San Francisco have home games on FOX, so no Pats games in the Bay area or in Buffalo. The other late game on CBS is Cincinnati at San Diego, so they too won’t get the Pats game. Now the question becomes whether affiliates of AFC North and AFC West teams would rather show division rivals to their audience, or the Pats – Texans game. My guess is that they opt for what at this point appears to be a more competitive game between superior clubs, so the Pats game should be available in all but those four markets.
Week 1 at Bills, 1:00 ET on CBS
This week is a bit of an anomaly: CBS has no late games, as they carry the US Open that day. Because of that another NFL television rule come into play, which supersedes the other blackout rules: both networks will always get to broadcast at least one game every Sunday into every television market. So for this week, and this week only, markets like Detroit and New Orleans will air a second game while their team is playing at home on another channel. Unfortunately there are five other games on CBS at the same time; I wouldn’t count on this game being shown anywhere outside of New England with the exception of Buffalo and New York – which would make for a rare oddity, going head-to-head against a Jets home game there.
Week 2 versus Jets, 8:30 ET on NFLN
Available to all
Week 3 vs Bucs, 1:00 ET on FOX
CBS has the doubleheader this week, so that eliminates this game from being shown wherever any FOX game is being played. The game will definitely be on in Tampa Bay; the only other market that might get it is Buffalo.
Week 4 at Falcons, 8:30 ET on NBC
Available to all
Week 5 at Cincinnati, 1:00 ET on CBS
Definite yes: Cincinnati
Definite no: Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, New York, St. Louis, Tennessee
CBS has the doubleheader, and the biggest competition is Baltimore at Miami; I think the Pats could end up being available in Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Washington. While fans of other teams may groan that the Pats will have been on television often, most CBS affiliates will not have had much of a chance to this point to broadcast one of their games.
Week 6 vs Saints, 4:25 ET on FOX
Not only is this a game between two of the league’s best offenses, it could also be the game in which Tom Brady ties Drew Brees for the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. If that streak is on the line, then it will be broadcast absolutely everywhere that it can be.
Definite no: Arizona, SF/Oak, Seattle, Denver
Definite yes or probable: all others
Week 7 at Jets, 1:00 ET on CBS
This is a CBS doubleheader week, but there are five early games to choose from on the network. None of the others are particularly compelling, so there is a slight chance that CBS may opt to make this their primary early game given the rivalry between the two clubs, rather than going with strictly ‘regional’ games.
If on the other hand CBS goes with a strictly regional lineup, then all the other markets would be doubtful to carry the Pats game: Arizona, SF/Oak and Seattle (SD-Jax); Tampa Bay (Buffalo-Miami); Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, New Orleans, St. Louis and Tennessee (Houston-KC); Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Green Bay,Minnesota and Pittsburgh (Cincinnati-Detroit)
Definite yes: New York
Definite no: Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Washington
Week 8 vs Dolphins, 1:00 ET on CBS
This is an early game on the network with just a single game, so there won’t be much availability. The one thing that may help is that even the late CBS games are not that great (Steelers at Raiders, Jets at Bengals), so some folks may luck out and get this game.
Definite yes: Miami
Definite no: Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and SF/Oak,
Probable: Tampa Bay
Possible: Atlanta, Carolina, Denver, Green Bay, Minnesota, Washington
Doubtful: Arizona, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee
Week 9 vs Steelers, 4:25 ET on CBS
Definite no: Baltimore, Cleveland, SF/Oak, Seattle
Probable: every other market
Week 11 at Panthers, 8:30 ET on ESPN
Available to all
Week 12 vs Broncos, 8:30 ET on NBC
Available to all
Week 13 at Texans, 4:25 ET on CBS
Definite no: Cincinnati, San Diego, SF/Oak
Probable: all others
Week 14 vs Browns, 1:00 ET on CBS
An early game on the network without the doubleheader, against a team that went 5-11 last year and is without star power to hype the game. Don’t expect game this to be available outside of northern Ohio and New England.
Definite yes: Cleveland
Definite no: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, SF/Oak, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington
Doubtful: Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville (Indy-Cincy); Carolina, Detroit, Minnesota (KC-Wash); San Diego (KC or Oakland); Arizona, St. Louis, Seattle (Denver or Oakland); Atlanta (Buffalo-Tampa Bay)
Week 15 at Dolphins, 1:00 ET on CBS
Another early game on CBS when FOX has the doubleheader.
Definite yes: Miami
Definite no: Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina, Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Minnesota, New York, St. Louis, SF/Oak, Tennessee
Doubtful: Denver, San Diego (KC at Oak); Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Green Bay, Pittsburgh (Houston at Indy); Arizona, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington (CBS avoiding going head to head against the local team)
Week 16 at Ravens, 8:30 ET on NBC
Available to all
Week 17 vs Bills, 1:00 ET on CBS
The time of the games on the final weekend will be moved around depending on the playoff races at that point, so that makes speculating about television coverage for these games very difficult. However, Pats – Bills games haven’t been big television draws in several years, so don’t expect this to be available beyond the minimum (i.e., the eight stations in New England and the seven that follow the Bills).
Definite yes: Buffalo
Doubtful: all others
Below is the market-by-market look at how many Pats games you should expect to be able to see without the Sunday Ticket, a Slingbox, or an illegal foreign website:
Baltimore: 7 definitely yes/probable; 9 doubtful/definitely not
Buffalo: 11 definitely yes/probable; 5 doubtful/definitely not
Detroit: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
Green Bay: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
Houston: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
Miami: 10 definitely yes/probable; 6 doubtful/definitely not
Minnesota: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
New York: 11 definitely yes/probable; 5 doubtful/definitely not
Philadelphia: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
San Diego: 7 definitely yes/probable; 9 doubtful/definitely not
San Francisco/Oakland: 5 definitely yes/probable; 11 doubtful/definitely not
Seattle: 7 definitely yes/probable; 9 doubtful/definitely not
Tampa Bay: 10 definitely yes/probable; 6 doubtful/definitely not
Washington DC: 9 definitely yes/probable; 7 doubtful/definitely not
All others: 8 definitely yes/probable; 8 doubtful/definitely not
If you are a fan of the Patriots living south and/or west of Hartford, this offer is an exceptional value. Even after you exclude the games that will available to you otherwise, all the other NFL games you get to see, and the value of the video game (whether you keep it or sell it), you are looking at only about $12.50 per game in most cases. In fact, for the price of $100, it’s actually a great value even if you do live close enough to drive to Foxboro.
Beyond the Sunday Ticket deal outlined above, there are a couple of other very good values available as well.
For $19.95 you can watch NFL preseason games live, on demand, in a condensed version, or with dual or quad views. Aside from being able to re-watch in order to focus on how some of the new rookies and free agents are performing or how the cohesiveness of a unit is progressing, you can also get a better feel for what’s going on with other teams and their players – whether it be for upcoming games, a division rival, or from a fantasy football perspective.
NFL Game Rewind has three price points depending on your budget and what you are looking for during the season. For $29.99 you can watch full replays of one team (the Pats of course); for just ten dollars more you get the same deal but for all 32 teams, allowing you to also see rivals and upcoming opponents; and for $69.99 you get all that plus the coaches ‘all-22′ angle which allows you to truly see plays develop in a format far superior to that of regular game broadcasts, the same deal for the playoffs, and availability for all of the above through the end of July rather than through the end of the regular season. You can compare plans here and get an overview here, but at least one of these plans represents a great enhancement for most all NFL fans – regardless of your level of fandom, from novice to somebody that breaks down game film in your spare time.
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