Earlier this year, I moved from Kansas to Brooklyn. That added a whole lot of excitement to my life, but it also meant I wouldn’t be able to watch every Kansas City Chiefs game on local TV anymore.
Luckily, DirecTV gave my family access to NFL Sunday Ticket this year so we wouldn’t unsubscribe from their service, so I can see all out-of-market games live on pretty much any device I own. During the chaotic first week of the 2016 NFL season, I watched several games using the NFL Sunday Ticket app on my PlayStation 4.
Here’s how it went:
The main thing I wanted to do was watch the Chiefs open their season against the Chargers. It was mostly fine.
First off, the PS4 app for NFL Sunday Ticket has a slick, simple interface. You have a list of games you can watch and you click on the one you want to watch. Easy!
For most of the game, I was in the fetal position due to stress as the Chiefs went down 24-3 and then came back to win 33-27. This was not helped by the fact that the stream would occasionally freeze for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, often just before big plays.
If I was an impartial observer, this wouldn’t have bothered me that much. As a seriously invested fan, it was a bit irksome. It could’ve been the service itself or my admittedly spotty apartment wi-fi, but I hope it’s better next week.
Still, I was able to see the entire game. I consider that a success.
Thanks to the dynamic highlights system, I was able to catch the big moments of other games I wasn’t watching, like this thriller between the Raiders and Saints.
On a streaming service, it isn’t quite as fast to switch from one game to another as it is on TV. Thankfully, the dynamic highlights system in NFL Sunday Ticket offers a way around that if you want to keep up with games around the league.
Here’s how it works: Whenever anything interesting happens in another game, such as a touchdown or turnover, a little pop-up will appear in the game you’re watching. You can dismiss it, or choose to instantly watch that play. Once the clip is over, you’ll go back to the game you were watching.
It works really well, and I was able to keep up with all of the close games of the weekend with that feature.
Once the Chiefs game was over, I wanted to watch the highly anticipated matchup between the Cowboys and Giants. This is where I encountered Sunday Ticket’s biggest problem.
Since I live in New York, the Giants game was broadcast on local TV. Thanks to antiquated blackout regulations, that’s the only (legal) way I could watch it.
NFL Sunday Ticket lets you know up front that you can only watch out-of-market games, so I wasn’t surprised. It’s just a bummer that blackout laws extend to expensive, online streaming services.
The same blackout rules apply to nationally-broadcast games like Sunday Night Football on NBC…
…and Monday Night Football on ESPN.
Instead, I caught this barn-burner between the Lions and Colts. It was a smoother experience.
For whatever reason, I didn’t have any problems streaming this game. It worked great!
Last but not least, the new Short Cuts feature gives you a great way to catch the games you missed.
Short Cuts is a new feature this year that allows you to watch each week’s games after the fact with all of the fat cut out. Here’s what you see:
– Every play
– Every penalty
– Any important replays
And here’s what gets left out:
– Down-time between plays
– Commercial breaks
– The time it takes for referees to figure out what to call during a review
In this form, an entire NFL game can be seen in around 30 minutes. The Chiefs game I watched came out to 50 minutes, but that’s because it went into overtime.
This is an extremely smart feature, as it allows you to see everything in a timely fashion. It also serves as a stark reminder of just how little actual football is played during a three-hour NFL broadcast.
Again, this only works for non-Sunday night and Monday night games.
NFL Sunday Ticket on PS4 is far from perfect, but as my best option, it does the job.
Like plenty of people, the cost of having cable or satellite TV is too much for me compared to watching everything via streaming services. NFL Sunday Ticket is the most comprehensive way to keep up with the NFL via streaming, and the PS4 app works pretty well. I assume the Xbox One app is largely the same.
Sunday Ticket is a DirecTV service, but as of last year, you don’t actually need to be a DirecTV subscriber to get access to it. The catch is you need to provide an eligible address to prove you live in a place where installing a satellite dish is impossible, such as an apartment.
You can check if you’re eligible here. If you are, the basic package (which gets you every feature I described above) is $50 per month over four months, or $200 total. It’s definitely not cheap, but it might be cheaper than going to a sports bar every weekend, depending on your personal habits.
College students can cut that price in half if they go to one of 300 eligible schools. To check if your school is eligible, click here.
A quick note: You can only stream one game at a time on one device at a time. Don’t plan on sharing NFL Sunday Ticket with your buddies.