DirecTV’s ‘Sunday Ticket’ Gets Interactive

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DirecTV Inc. unveiled interactive enhancements for its “NFL Sunday Ticket” National Football League out-of-market package Thursday, but it’s not clear how many subscribers will be able to access the features.

Company executives said the new DirecTV digital-video recorders, which ship next month, will have access to the “SuperFan” interactive-TV features, in addition to a select number of subscribers who already have interactive-TV-enabled receivers. But they declined to quantify how many customers have the equipment that will make the interactive features tick.

DirecTV raised the retail price for NFL Sunday Ticket to $279.96. NFL Sunday Ticket gives customers access to every American Football Conference and National Football Conference game broadcast by CBS and Fox each Sunday.

Sunday Ticket subscribers will have to shell out an additional $99 for access to the SuperFan premium tier for the package, which includes a “Red Zone” highlight channel, the ability to view an entire game in 30 minutes and HD NFL feeds.

SuperFan also includes two “Game Mix” channels, which are similar to DirecTV’s “Sportsmix,” “Kidsmix” and “Newsmix” genre mosaic channels. The Game Mix channels will allow subscribers to view eight live NFL games on a single screen. It’s designed to help viewers quickly find the game with the best action.

Red Zone is designed for more passive viewers. Fans who go to the channel will hear a voiceover describing the action in the two hottest games being played at any given time.

Subscribers who pay for the SuperFan package will also get access to “Short Cuts,” which will run on channels 701-704. DirecTV will condense each NFL game on Fox into 30 minutes or less, eliminating all of the time spent covering huddles, commercials, timeouts and showboating. Next year, AFC games aired on CBS will also be available on Short Cuts.

DirecTV is also forcing subscribers who own HDTV sets and want to receive the Sunday Ticket games in HD to shell out another $99 for the SuperFan package, which will give them access to more than 100 games in HD.

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