For many reasons, which vary from person to person, it is actually becoming harder and harder to be a fan of the National Football League. While many might have claimed to have tuned out, or actually done so, in response to rules changes that increasingly favor offensive play, to ridiculous rules in general, to sloppy play, to excessive commercialism, or to increased activism among players, people have found reasons to tune out—or, again, to claim that they have.
The biggest issue, however, is beginning to become a matter of cost. The NFL is aware of the fact that it is lagging behind the other major American professional team sports leagues when it comes to providing suitable viewing options for out-of-market fans, but they have been slow to do anything about it.
They remain locked into a monopolistic deal with DirecTV, whose Sunday Ticket package is the only legal means through which Americans are able to watch every NFL game live. And DirecTV continues to raise the cost of this package, as Pro Football Talk reports, reaching nearly $300 per year for its basic package and nearly $400 for an upgraded one.
In a digital era in which it is easier than ever to access information about teams that are not local to you, it would seem counterintuitive that the NFL would want to price out the average fan from following his favorite team if it is not in his local market.
While the league has provided lip services on occasion in recent years about expanding its footprint in the streaming services, there doesn’t appear to be any meaningful plans in place for Americans to view live games of teams outside of local markets without submitting to the NFL-DirecTV complex.
For a team such as the Pittsburgh Steelers that is well-known for having a widespread fanbase, not just across the nation, but really across the world, this can be a frustrating experience. I know for a fact that many of our regular readers here are not in the Steelers’ local market and struggle to catch their games live when they are not playing in primetime slots.
While Pittsburgh remains one of the premiere franchises in the NFL and is almost always allotted the maximum of five primetime games per team—and this past season even played a disproportionate number of evening games—it still remains a burden for many to find accommodations that will allow them to view the live broadcast.
It doesn’t help matters that DirecTV often doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful or oriented toward customer service, either.