As football season is beginning to end in two alternatives to watching football, we have endured game after game after game. If you like football that is more than okay! So here is a list of things you could do, instead of watching the game this Sunday, or Monday, or Thursday, or Friday
You have to contend with regional blackouts, local vs national broadcasts, and special legal provisions that have been carved out for the NFL. But with a little perseverance, most everything is possible. Then you have Sunday Football, and this is where things can get a bit confusing.
Sunday Football is regionally broadcasted and will typically consist of 11 games all taking place over a hour time period. Because there are so many games going on at the same time, the networks are forced to divvy up the games based on location.
How Regional Broadcasts Work Regional NFL broadcasts are dependent on a myriad of different factors, starting at the top with NFL executives and going all the way down to local broadcasters.
At the beginning of the year, four NFL executives meet to devise the NFL game schedule; which is also dependent on a variety of factors.
If an AFC team and NFC team are playing each other, the broadcasting channel will be determined by which team is on the road. Regional Broadcasts Explained As far as which individual game airs, that will be dependent on the area. In addition to local markets, there are also secondary markets.
A secondary market is an area adjacent to or nearby a local NFL market. For example, Orlando is a secondary market for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Secondary markets are required by the NFL to broadcast the away games of local teams, but are not required to air home games.
In the event of home games, secondary markets decide which game to air based on popularity. A great example of this can be found in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a secondary market for the Baltimore Ravens and a town that finds itself split between the Steelers and Ravens fans. Whenever the Steelers happen to be playing at the same time as a Ravens home game, broadcasters will often air the Steelers instead.
Of course, this enrages Ravens fans across the region.
From here on it gets a bit difficult to determine broadcasts schedules, as it is based on a mix of proximity to other NFL teams, local broadcast deals, and popularity. Here is an example of a weekly map it provides: Pair this with a simple NFL TV schedule and you can see exactly what will air, when and where.
How do Blackouts Work? Blackouts are basically an attempt to protect local broadcasters and sports leagues from getting crowded out by national broadcasts.
Generally, the idea is to broadcast a game locally while barring national broadcasters from picking up that game; however, it can also work in the opposite direction.
For the NFL, local games are blocked from airing in their local market if the home team has not sold out tickets within 72 hours of the game. This is done in a dubious attempt to get more people to come out and watch the game in person, but it rarely works. The Sports Broadcasting Act of is what makes sports blackouts legally possible.
The law allows for sports leagues to pool team resources in order to negotiate better broadcasting deals, which includes blackout rules.
In , the FCC also passed a rule allowing for sports leagues to implement blackout policies. In , the FCC suspended that rule, although sports leagues are still able to implement blackouts via broadcast deals.
In , the NFL suspended their blackout rule and have continued to do so on a year-to-year basis. Watching NFL without Cable To watch football without signing up for a bloated cable tv subscription you will need a streaming service subscription and or an OTA over-the-air Antenna. The good news for cordcutting NFL fans is that any game that airs on these networks can be enjoyed for free, in HD, with the one-time purchase of a TV antenna.
Obviously, buying an antenna will only get you locally broadcast games from certain channels. For most people, it is not all about football, so you will need to do your homework and figure out the tools and services that meet most of your needs.
I say most because you may also need to compromise a bit. Saving money is not a given, it takes a bit of flexibility too. Kill The Cable Bill, a popular cordcutting website, has this matrix of popular streaming services and what NFL broadcast channels they get you: Image credit: KilltheCableBill All of the options listed do have one major downside: they still adhere to regional broadcasts and blackouts.
Providers generally use IP tracking on desktops, or the location services on mobile, to determine your location and tailor the channels specifically. Rather than showing a conventional broadcast, it cuts between games to show all the highlights.
You need a subscription to DirecTV to watch, which is even more expensive than a regular cable package. Now, some people might be in luck.