While Verizon is positioning DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket as a free extra -- "valued at $299.95," according to the telco -- for customers who sign up for certain DSL-based bundles, the satellite operator says subscribers will, in fact, be paying for the exclusive football package.
NFL Sunday Ticket "is part of the bundle and it's a great offer," but the package "is not a free add-on as it was being characterized in the press," DirecTV director of public relations Robert Mercer wrote in an e-mail.
Mercer said "subs are paying for the Ticket," but that DirecTV cannot disclose details of how the various components of the bundle are priced.
On Wednesday, Verizon -- in a bid to breathe life into its sagging DSL business -- announced that customers who sign up for a bundle with 3- or 7.1-Mbps DSL Internet, the Freedom Essentials calling plan and DirecTV's Plus HD DVR for $119.99 per month for one year (after a rebate) "will also get 2009 NFL Sunday Ticket only on DirecTV (valued at $299.95)."
The offer also extends to subs who take the DirecTV standard-definition DVR for $109.99 per month as part of the bundle.
Verizon, asked for clarification on the Sunday Ticket offer, said the characterization of the NFL package as included for "free" with certain bundles was "100% accurate."
To qualify for the bundles, customers must sign a one-year Verizon commitment and a two-year DirecTV agreement that includes a hardware lease. Verizon expects the Sunday Ticket promotion to extend through September.
In addition to the football package, Verizon is proffering 12 months free access to Showtime, plus either a Compaq Mini netbook or a Flip Ultra camcorder, to new DSL customers who take the 3- or 7.1-Mbps tiers, DirecTV and phone service. All told, the value of the "free" incentives offered with the telco's newest DSL-based triple-play bundles is as much as $750.
DirecTV earlier this year agreed to pay $4 billion to extend its exclusive deal with the National Football League to offer more than 200 out-of-market games per season to subscribers.