Five Alternatives to the Pricey NFL Sunday Ticket Package

America’s appetite for football is insatiable.  Between fantasy rosters, office pools, betting the point spread or the purity of football fandom, the NFL continues to attract more and more eyeballs to its product. According to Zap2It, the shield grabbed 202 million viewers in 2014, 80 percent of all television homes and 68 percent of potential viewers in the U.S. It was the second-most watched season of average viewers (17.6 million) behind 2010’s mark of 17.9 million. In the last ten years, viewership has increased 25 percent by almost 4 million viewers. Thursday Night football increased 53 percent in one season.

For many, three free Sunday games, one Monday and one Thursday night game aren’t enough to feed one’s football fix. And for them, there’s DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. But at the Max package, which includes the Red Zone Channel, a fantasy zone channel and the ability to stream to another device, one’s per-month cost (the season is four months long) is $88.49/month. To put it in perspective, Major League Baseball charges $129.99 for its premium MLB.TV package and the NBA League Pass costs $199.99. Those amounts cover the entire six-month season of each league.

For those without such comfy disposable incomes that still want to suck in every breath of the NFL this season, here are some other options.

Go to a Bar

The obvious alternative is to find a bar with the games on that you want to watch. But is this cost efficient compared to slapping Sunday Ticket Max on your Visa and living off of ramen until spring?

Rudy’s Pub and Grill is a popular spot to watch football in Newport Beach, Calif. Considering a three-and-a-half hour game, I priced out what may be a typical, if not a tad aggressive, bar bill.

$9.95 – Bacon/jalapeno wings
$11.95 – Pub hoagie
$20 – Four domestic beers at $5 a pop

After tax and tip, you’ve just spent $53.57, or 61 percent of the monthly cost for Sunday Ticket Max. And this is for one, maybe two games on one Sunday. It’s a fun day, but not cost efficient.

There are cheaper bar options. One of my favorite hang outs is an Irish bar in downtown Orange, where I grew up. It’s not a sports bar, but they do draw a football crowd on Sundays and it’s a more affordable way to enjoy several hours of football.

At O’Hara’s, a domestic pitcher typically costs $7. Just next door is a tasty, fast Mexican food joint, a sandwich shop and a pizza place. O’Hara’s has no issues bringing food in to the bar, as they don’t provide food themselves. Since we’re going cheap, we’ll give ourselves a $10 limit.

$14 – Two domestic pitchers
$3 – Tip
Food from next door  – $10
Total – $27

At half the cost of a Sunday Funday at Rudy’s Pub and Grill, a day at O’Hara’s still is 31 percent of that damn DirecTV product. For 16 weeks (a couple Sundays away from the bar and attending a family member’s birthday), you’ve just spent $432 to watch Sunday football, or, $78.06 more than it would’ve cost Sunday Ticket Max for the season.

Of course, skipping O’Hara’s would mean missing out on the sciatica caused by the stiff booths. And since you have an actual lock on your bathroom door at home, there’s no chance of a stranger walking in on you peeing. That’s what the extra $78 buys you. Experiences!

Cheaper Sunday Ticket Options

Regular Sunday Ticket, which doesn’t include the Red Zone channel or other perks, runs $62.99 a month ($251.94 total). For college students, that cost drops to $24.99 a month, or $99 total.

Order the Sunday Ticket To Go, which streams only to a tablet, phone or laptop, and the monthly charge is $49.99.

Cost Sharing

Sunday Ticket without the Red Zone Channel is like Nevada without Las Vegas – what’s the point? So grab some friends and split the cost of the Max package. For three of you, the cost is $29.50 for a month ($117.98 for season). Add in one more and you’re at $22.13 a month ($88.49 a season).

Watching football is fun. Watching football with a friend is more fun. And watching football with multiple friends is even more fun. So not only do you save some cash, but you’re having more fun. It’s science. And you don’t have to worry about tipping your server at 40 percent because you’re smitten by her blue eyes and dimpled cheeks.

NFL Game Pass

There’s two ways to go about Game Pass. For $24.75 a month ($99 for the season) you can watch every game, not including the Sunday night game. The kicker is the games won’t unlock until after the last game of the afternoon has finished. But you do get access to the All 22 camera and you can block scores from other games. And maybe brunch with the in-laws, church with grandma or spending time with your kids is a healthy and productive thing.

If you live outside the U.S., however, you can use Game Pass for live viewing. This is great for fans who had to move for work or family, but still want to watch NFL games live at some ungodly hour. Of course, the more nefarious can use this option and couple it with an IP spoofing service or VPN and watch live streaming in the good old U.S.A., but that will take a little more research on your part. And any VPN service that offers decent streaming bandwidth is going to cost, adding to the monthly fee.

Stream Illegally

It’s the internet. This is what the internet does. Google search or hunt around Reddit and you’ll find what you’re looking for.


So, the breakdown:

NFL Sunday Viewing Cost Breakdown
Viewing option Cost per month
Sunday Ticket Max $88.49
Sunday Ticket $62.99
Sunday Ticket To Go $49.99
Bar $108.00
ST Cost Share x 3 $29.50
ST Cost Share x 4 $22.13
NFL Game Pass $24.75
NFL Game Pass Euro $34.75
Stream Illegally Just your soul


If you’re looking for the best value, get three friends together, split the cost of DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket Max package and persuade the friend with the best TV to accommodate. Don’t leave a mess and toss in a six-pack once a month for the host. After all, he’s cleaning up your urine on the toilet seat.

Image courtesy of Mike Reynolds 

Seth loves baseball and anything with Sriracha in it. Follow him on Twitter @sethkeichline.

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8 years ago

You missed the best alternative. Find someone with NFL Sunday Ticket, preferably a bachelor friend, and secure an invite to watch the game. Buy the beer to ensure a repeated invite.

Seth Keichline
8 years ago
Reply to  Bill

The hard part is securing that initial invite. Do to that complexity, and my social ineptitude, I didn’t even try to broach that issue. Also, I was trying to avoid COMPLETE mooching : )

Alec Dentonmember
8 years ago

Not sure how you got this picture of my basement, Seth

Rick VZ
8 years ago

What does Verizon NFL Mobile provide for their customers? Can live games be Chromecast to your TV? Is it cheaper and/or worth it?

8 years ago

Trying to keep up with the illegal streams will drive you crazy. I don’t recommend it.

Just go to a bar
8 years ago

You priced a Bar at 108/month? Lol

Just go and get one beer. That’ s like 50 a month max.

Also Sunday Ticket is an anticompetitive tying scheme that should be illegal. NFL is currently being sued along with Direct TV.

Direct TV? Really? What year is it NFL?
Who has Direct TV anymore?

You are making bars get f–in satelites because you want more money. What a bunch of greedy rich a-holes!

8 years ago

Soul it is then.