Blackouts Ire ‘Sunday Ticket’ Subscribers


Some "NFL Sunday Ticket" subscribers are crying foul over the package’s
new game-blackout provisions.

For the first time, DirecTV Inc.’s out-of-market package -- providing
coverage of the National Football League’s Sunday-afternoon games -- is blacking
out games televised by the local broadcast-TV affiliates of Fox and CBS.

The change is part of the direct-broadcast satellite provider’s $2 billion
deal with the NFL, reached last December, which extended its exclusive right to
Sunday Ticket games through 2005.

The changes aren’t sitting well with some subscribers. DirecTV officials
admitted that the DBS provider has received a number of calls about the new
blackout provisions through the first two weeks of the NFL season, although it
refused to provide specific numbers.

DirecTV also would not reveal its NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber base.
Published reports placed last year’s total at 1.65 million.

The satellite provider said it is adhering to provisions outlined by the NFL
in the new agreement.

DirecTV public-relations specialist Jade Valine said the
company made the changes clear in its print and on-air advertising materials.
The network also has a thorough explanation of the blackout provisions listed on
the NFL Sunday Ticket portion of its Web site (


Sunday Ticket subscribers were also hit with a $30 increase. The package
price rose from $179 last year to $209.

DirecTV has made several enhancements to the package, including four
additional channels on which viewers can watch games while scores are
continuously updated at the bottom and on the left side of the screen.

Subscribers can also receive up-to-date scores and statistics via the Web

And customers with DirecTV digital-video recorders receive a highlights
package on Monday mornings. In addition, subscribers with HDTV sets can receive
HD and wide-screen telecasts.