A package of National Football League broadcasts available on satellite television systems.

For many years, the satellite feeds of NFL games were available only to bars and restaurants for the viewing pleasure of their paying customers. The popularity of the modern sports bar was directly related to the advent of satellite broadcasts of out-of-market football games.

In the early 1990's, DirecTV struck a deal with the NFL to carry the football package, named NFL Sunday Ticket, to it's DSS subscribers for an additional annual fee.

For about US$160 per season (with discounts for early registration and yearly renewals), the DirecTV customer receives all available NFL games on each regular season Sunday. The league applies blackout rules to the transmissions. For example, a game will be blacked out in a 75 mile radius of the home team stadium if the game is not sold out 72 hours prior to kick-off. This is the same rule that applies to local TV broadcasts of all NFL games.

NFL Sunday Ticket does not carry pre-season (exhibition) games (arranged locally by each team), Sunday night games (ESPN), Monday night games (ABC), the occasional Thursday night and Saturday games (normally carried nationwide by the networks or ESPN) or post-season (playoff) games.

The advantage of this package for NFL junkies is that they get to see nearly all available NFL games every Sunday. The sometimes lopsided schedule of games makes for some interesting feats of television viewing. For example, the NFL will often schedule eight to ten games to begin at 1:00 Eastern Time, with only three or four games starting at 4:00 Eastern (or vice versa). This causes the viewer to have to narrow down the selections to two or three meaningful games, flipping among them with a remote control. Often, this scheme doesn't succeed either, as it seems every game goes to a commercial or halftime at the exact same moment. The commercial blocks are the same from game to game on the two networks supplying the feeds (currently CBS and Fox). So, you get to see the same commercials over and over, usually within a few seconds of each other.

Despite these minor roadblocks, NFL Sunday Ticket is a must for true football junkies. My plan, when I reach the level of independently wealthy, is to add additional TV sets and satellite receivers to my family room wall unit, which will allow me to view multiple games conveniently.

There's one other advantage I've personally experienced; my wife has become a real football addict, which makes laying about on a Sunday afternoon much easier.

Disclaimer: I don't work for the NFL, DirecTV, or any satellite sales company.

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