NFL Sunday Ticket turns 20 today


June can be a quiet time for NFL news, but something rather significant happened 20 years ago on the first day of the sixth month of the year.

On June 1, 1994, the NFL began its “NFL Sunday Ticket” satellite-TV service. The package, offered through DirecTV, forever changed how some fans watched the league. Suddenly, fans could more easily follow teams outside of their home market, whether at home or at bars or restaurants that offered the package. Eventually, the service became offered via broadband, too.

However, as NFL Sunday Ticket turns 20, the matter of whether DirecTV will renew its agreement with the league to offer the package for 2014 and beyond remains unsettled, though SportsBusiness Daily has reported a deal is expected to be struck. There is also the issue of whether the distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket will eventually widen, what with AT&T striking a deal to acquire DirecTV in May.

No matter the future of NFL Sunday Ticket, this much is certain: fans will forever have the opportunity to buy the right to view out-of-market games. It will cost them, whether it’s home viewing or whether it’s the cost of pizza and beer to watch a game at a pub. But they will have that opportunity, for the technology to do it is in place, and the demand for the service is strong.

50 responses to “NFL Sunday Ticket turns 20 today

  1. I’ve never had it before but I’ve been heavily considering it. I have DirectTV and find the price kind of outrageous but I do love football. Is it really worth the price?

  2. I remember i got it for a year then come the next year it tripled in price so basically i got it for free the first year since i was a new directv customer but after my contract was up i gladly switched to dish network just because of how directv rapes u on pricing

  3. I got it just before Week 4 of the ’95 season. Amazing how I didn’t even know about it the entire first season!

    As a Fin fan in Boston, ’94 was awful as the Patriots(under new coach Parcells) had sold out all their games for the first time ever.

    Sunday Ticket was singularly the most important technological advancement in my lifetime.

  4. I’ve had it for most of those 20 years and absolutely love it. I am not a fan of either Texas team and would be forced to watch them over other games if I had cable or other providers. Sunday Ticket allows me to watch the matchups I want to see as well as follow my team. The cost is less than what season tickets would cost me, I can pee in my own clean bathroom without waiting in line, and beer is much cheaper.

  5. Before Sunday Ticket I could watch the games free on my old BUD system. Sometimes you could get raw feeds. During commercial breaks you could still listen to the booth audio, and the camera operators would scan the crowd, looking for eye candy.

  6. If you have DirectTV, just call customer service and tell them you are leaving. They’ll offer it up for free. One of many perks to subscribing to an awesome satellite-TV service that will do its best to keep subscribers.

    I can’t wait for the season to start!

  7. It would be nice if one could get the service via the internet on a week by week basis, without the subscription. Unlikely to happen though, as the goal for DT is subscriptions and equipment commitments. Hopefully ATT will consider it as the broadcasters are prevented for doing it because of the DT deal.

  8. I still can’t figure out why they haven’t developed cheaper packages that highlight one team or maybe the “AFC East”. Make it more affordable to some of us folks.

  9. Had it since 1995 as a transplanted Steelers fan to Chicago. Really the only reason me and most of my buddies have directv. Call and negotiate every August, every year have gotten the price reduced of if or even free if I get the right rep and sell the fact I have been a subscriber since the beginning.

  10. when it first started to now, it’s totally different. You still have the three games on Sunday with FOX & CBS but you also have a SUNDAY NIGHT game plus the MONDAY NIGHT game AND a THursday NIGHT game … so out of 13+ games (BYES the first 11 weeks) a week, you’re down to 8-10 non-national broadcasts plus a regional game. So, it might be as few as 7 games on DirecTV that you cannot watch in its entirety … add in NFL RED ZONE, look over the schedule of your team. If you’re living on the west coast and your team is the jags, then you might want it as we rarely see any non-national jag games but if you live in a region that will get your fav team playing a diision team nearby, you’ll prob get the game anyway … when you see “highlights” of a 10-7 game featuring two Florda teams on Red Zone, what more do you need?

  11. I’ve had “The Ticket” since 99′. It was the only reason I switched to DirecTv and I am completely happy. Living in California, I haven’t missed a single Bears game since!

  12. It’s great when there’s a vibrant economy and people can afford it.

    If this isn’t a recession, it sure looks like one.

  13. I got this year one. Cost $1,200 for the one box one tv system, and $199 for the sunday ticket. As a Florida transplant Eagles fan, it is a godsend to watch the games.

    For those who complain about the price, its less than $20 a game which I believe is reasonably fair. keep in mind DTV pays the NFL 700 million a year.

  14. Have had it for nearly 20 years. Love the package. Do not love Direct TV. They do not appreciate their customers once you sign up.

  15. its a COMPLETE ripoff..if certain markets broadcast it for free. why cant i watch it for free??..Directv is a bunch of crooks as with the people that let it happen

  16. The price is outrageous. I had it way back when it was affordable, now its out of my price range. I did get it one year for free but that was only one time.

  17. $300 a year. Same price to go to one game live, and that’s probably what you spent before you sat down in your seat to watch the game.

  18. It’s worth it to me. I’ve been a Vikings fan since 1963 but lived in AZ since 1970. Got Directv 7 years ago and no regrets.

  19. For the first 15 years or so of Sunday ticket, it was a must have for football junkies. Now with the amount of games that are braodcast free, NFL redzone, & the availability of multiple streams of every game via the internet, Sunday ticket is no longer a must have. I got rid of DTV a few years ago when I realized this.

  20. I would love to have Sunday Ticket but I’m not going to switch my cable provider just to get it especially if I’m happy with my cable provider. I’m a Redskins fan and I live in the DC area so I don’t miss their games and even if I’m not at home I have slingbox so I’m set. For some other reason other than money the NFL continues to partner with DirecTv. If they open Sunday Ticket to everyone else they would make even more money. As of 2 years ago DirecTv had less than 20 million subscribers and probably less now. In a country of more than 350 million people they are cutting out a lot of people. What if you live in a apartment, you can’t get it even if you want to. With their merger with AT&T they will add a little less than 10 million more subscribers. That’s why I say this partnership has to do with more than just money. Verizon Fios is similar in terms of subscribers to DirecTv but Comcast is the biggest cable provider and all those customers can’t get it and most of them would get it if they had the chance. So again I would get it but I’m not switching to do it, I’m fine. Like the old saying, you can’t miss what you never had.

  21. I wish Xbox live would buy Sunday ticket.. then it would cost $60 instead of hundreds plus a direct TV subscription. TV is such a ripoff for what you get.. plus you still have to watch commercials on top of that.

  22. I paid $59.99 the first year back in 94. Reception was via my big back yard dish and secondary to wild feeds as I found them. Wild feeds were great cause they never left the stadium on commercial breaks, cameras and microphones stayed open. No interuptions, was cool. Now I got ripped of $249 in “6 easy payments”. As much as I paid in first year. I don’t even had HD.

  23. I remember when a fella could simply program a DTV sattelite card..those were the best days i can remember. I wish it was still a possibility! I so loved DirecTv then..

  24. I use to watch Sunday Ticket when the H/HU cards were wide open on DirecTV. Best days ever for tv. Always had it since its inception.

  25. There are ways around it. Refuse to sign up for two year renewals, and have two friends or family members that like the same team. You only have to host every three years, and at the worst, it costs $100.

  26. It started on Thanksgiving Sunday in 1994. I had to be one of the first 100 (if not less) people to have DirecTV. One receiver, installed, cost me $1,100. It didn’t matter. I can not image going back to a situation where some local CBS/FOX affiliate dictates to me what games I can watch on an NFL Sunday afternoon.

  27. There are 19 Oak trees in my yard and my neighbor to the SW has more than 10 Oak trees. Because of this I cannot get NFL ticket. I, and others would like the ability to purchase NFL ticket through our cable providers. Mine happens to be Verizon Fios. Yet another sterling example of non-competitive gigantic monopolies sticking it to the consumer. Is this a great country or what.

  28. I’m saving money by having Sunday Ticket. I used to drive 30 miles to a sports bar to watch my team. Factoring gas, lunch, drinks I am way ahead. Long live the Ticket

  29. Sunday ticket DID NOT start on Direct TV. It was available to Big Dish users before Direct TV, who added it half way through the 1st or 2nd year. (can’t remember.) I know this for a fact, as I was upset when Direct TV got exclusive rights for Sunday ticket. I had to give up the big dish that allowed me to watch the Raiders every week since the early 80’s. I have had Sunday ticket every year it’s been available, including the time BEFORE it was offered on Direct TV. Maybe Flo can do some research and will find this to be fact. One does not forget when they are FORCED to change systems to follow their favorite team!!

  30. I actually love Directv, even if they didn’t carry Sunday Ticket I’d still have it. I live in Denver and the cable provider is Comcast….easily the worst television service I’ve ever experienced. I’ve also had Dish, which I got for free because my old roommate works there, and I’d rather pay for Directv. It’s that much better. The menus are intuitive and the quality of picture and sound is excellent. I’m not sure why people bash it, I ended up paying about the same for Directv as I did cable and it’s a million times better.

  31. I was one of the original customers through Thomson-Hughes I believe. I think they went to DirecTV a little later. When I moved, my wife “cancelled” service rather than “move” the service. I lost my early bird/repeat customer discount. The price became prohibitive. I was only getting a few games a year on DirecTV. My team was on prime time 4-5 times a year and I had the east coast feeds to the major networks, and could catch a lot of the games through their broadcasts. I lost the east coast network feeds during that same move. I had a waiver from when we used to live in the hills and could not get the local network broadcast. I held onto that when we moved to the flat land, but again,. we lost those when we “cancelled” service and I needed a new waiver from the local networks to get it back, and they denied me. Now, I just can’t stomach the price. Sorry DirecTV, but it’s become unrealistic. I almost believe they know they have pushed the average customer off the table, and are balancing that with revenues from bars and restaurants. I watch games sometimes at a local restaurant bar, but that costs too. I am falling away from the NFL.

  32. I’ve had it for 12 years or so, and love it. Yeah, the price has gone up a lot, but I call them pretty much every year and get it free or for half price or so. I figure it saves me a lot of money, not hitting the bars, ect. to watch the games.

  33. DirecTV bribes the NFL for it’s exclusive contract then passes on the cost to it’s subscribers. There is no reason why Sunday Ticket can’t be on multiple providers except for simple greed. We had the Sunday Ticket package since 1997 but when my wife lost her job last fall, we had to drop it. I don’t know if we’ll sign up again this year or not. On one hand paying $350.00 is outrageous but on the other, being stuck with Giants and Jets game is torture.

  34. Meaning this season will be the 17th year I’ve had NFL Sunday Ticket. BEGGED my parents for it in high school in SC where I was marooned on FOX panther/falcon island but they wouldn’t do it. So I sucked it up and went to a pool hall called Gillians to watch the Eagles every sunday until I left the house for college. And then, immediate directv.

    Was a great deal back then. Now it is relatively expensive. But if you asked what I’d pay just to be able watch the birds at home all year, I’d rise to their price everytime. And I get every other game on top of that for free, in that chain or rationalization.

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