Friday, September 13, 2013

How Directv Sunday Ticket Addicts can Cut the Cord and Save Money

As a devoted SF 49ers fan who has watched almost every game since 1983, a staple of my television watching is Directv and the NFL Sunday Ticket package. Since I don't live in the Bay Area, Sunday Ticket gives me access to all NFL games. The only black out exceptions are when the game is on a national network or if the local team does not sell out a home game.  Living in Los Angeles which does not have a pro football team, the latter is not an issue. Since Directv has an exclusive deal with the NFL, I've been forced to be a subscriber. At $250-$300 per year its not cheap and recently I've been looking for ways to "cut the cord".  For those trying to save money or looking to cut the cord, here are three different approaches.

1. Slingbox.  Slingbox is a device you set up that streams the TV content over the internet.  It needs both TV and internet connections and HD is no problem as long as your internet connection can handle it on both ends.  To use it to get football games you obviously need to know someone in the NFL market where your team plays.  So you call up parents or Aunt Ethel or anyone who doesn't mind you setting up the device in their house.  Once set up you can stream the game over the internet to your location and you are golden.  The only caveat is that the person at the Slingbox house has to watch the exact same content that you are watching.  So if Aunt Ethel doesn't like pro football, see if she has an unused cable connection in the guest room or other you can use.  Slingbox come in three flavors - Slingbox Solo, Slingbox 350 and Slingbox 500, ranging in price from $100 to $300.  As long as the cable and ethernet are close together the lower end devices work perfectly.  If they aren't the high end, Slingbox 500, has WiFi and solves this issue.  You can find the whole range of products on here and elsewhere, starting at $60 for used devices.  

Pros: Cheap - one time set up of cost 
Cons: Requires Internet, at the mercy of the host, cannot watch all NFL games

2. Google Chromecast and Madden 25. This is a limited time option but if you are looking for the cheapest solution for the 2013 season then look no further.  Chromecast is the cool Google gadget that costs $35 and lets you watch HD internet content on any TV with an HDMI connector.  Madden 25 costs $100 and you have to buy it on Amazon to get the NFL Sunday Ticket internet package as well.  Note that if Amazon has sold out of the Madden 25 package then you can find copies on Ebay from $100 and up. And if you are trying to get it as cheap as possible you can always sell the video game.

Pros: Cheap - $40 for NFL Sunday Ticket, enables you to leave Directv 
Cons: Requires Internet, not a long term solution.

3. Negotiate with Directv.  Don't sign up for the package until the very last minute.  In my experience the negotiation window is in your favor right before the second game of the season. For whatever reason, that is when they count how many subscribers and they are most open to discounts.  With their marginal cost of adding you being close to zero, you might be able to negotiate them down to $100 for the year.

Pros: Saves you a few bucks 
Cons: Success can fluctuate widely from year to year

In summary, the Slingbox solution is the cheapest option long term if you can find the right partner in crime. Either of the first two options enable you to watch the games wherever you have an ethernet connection; so a good solution if you travel or aren't always at home on Sunday.  I decided to go with the Chromecast/Madden solution just so I could watch all the games and will report back on the experience later this season. I would love to hear about other suggestions - beyond going to a bar - to watch NFL games.  Go Niners!


  1. ONLY a Niners Fan would love to sit under a blanket sipping on a lattte while playing with their WiFi while 'Watching" those bitch niners. It all about the RAIDERS so support your local economy and go to a BAR like a real man and watch a real team like the RAIDERS!!! b

    1. Wow you're real mature...and your team is awful...