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It used to be that ordering NFL SUNDAY TICKET on DirecTV was a must for any fan of the National Football League that didn't want to hang out at a sports bar to watch a specific non-locally televised game. For those that don't know, NFL SUNDAY TICKET is a premium service on DirecTV that shows all non-nationally televised NFL games. If the TICKET wasn't enough, DirecTV has an add-on to their NFL SUNDAY TICKET package appropriately named NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan.

What You Get - Overview of Programming

NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan is only available to current NFL SUNDAY TICKET subscribers. By ordering, a subscriber gets access to over 100 high definition games. There is also a Red Zone channel, two Game Mix channels and a thing called Short Cuts.

The Red Zone channel works much like the NFL Network's pre-season No Huddle program that goes from game to game. The premise of the Red Zone Channel is to bounce from game to game as a team moves the ball inside their opponents 20-yard line. A narrator alerts the viewer to an on-screen game change with a brief explanation of what is currently going on in that game.

The Game Mix channels are back-to-back on the channel lineup, and consist of eight small screens that have action from eight different games. A person can choose which game's audio to listen to by moving the on-screen cursor over the game of choice.

There is also a feature called Short Cuts that breaks down every game into one 30-minute or less block of programming. It is commercial-free, and usually available around midnight ET Sunday.

Review of Programming

NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan is a novel idea because it gives the football fan almost everything they could ever hope for:

  • Access to games in HD for those who own high definition sets and have a HD tuner
  • 8 games on one screen
  • A channel dedicated to scoring plays
  • A chance to watch every game in just over the time it could take to watch one game

Game Mix Channels

The Game Mix channels are pretty cool as they have 8 games on one screen. It is easy to flip from one game's audio to another, and you never miss the action of any game that is of interest as long as it is one of the eight in the mix. Overall, I liked the channel, but I have a couple of complaints.

The 8 screens are very small, and I can see how this channel would be difficult to watch on a television below 30" in size. I also would've liked to be able to choose which games I wanted in the mix. As it stands, DirecTV chooses the mix for you. Since there are two mixes there is a good chance one of the two will work for most people.

Red Zone Channel

The Red Zone channel was the bright spot of the SuperFan package as it jumped from game to game with good pacing, and only drives of consequence were shown. When all the games didn't have any scoring threats, they switched to a a game with a team moving the ball but not yet inside the red zone.

The best thing about the Red Zone channel is that I don't recall seeing any commercials. If a team scored or made a great play while another game was being televised, they quickly broke to a highlight of the play. I liked the use of an announcer to describe what we were about to see as it helped follow the action when moving from game to game.

Short Cuts

Short Cuts was a feature that was part of last season's NFL SUNDAY TICKET package. It is an interesting way to watch a game as every game is broken down into 30 minutes or less. This is either something you will like or hate, but I can see where this would be helpful for fantasy football owners to observe where their players fit into a team's game plan.

HD Games

Not much to write here except that watching the NFL in HD is a luxury. If you have the equipment, you will love this feature.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the 2006 NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan is a good concept, but shines a light on how cable and satellite providers will do anything to make an extra buck. SuperFan costs $99, and can be paid in 3 payments of $33. Since NFL SUNDAY TICKET costs $249 for the season, adding the SuperFan package for $99 seems a bit much to me especially when you can easily turn the channel to any game of choice. It looked to me as buying what I already own, but with different packaging. I was also upset that I could only access HD games by purchasing the SuperFan, which seems to hold hostage those able access HD programming.

One nice feature that I didn't address above is the addition of real time stats for each game. When turning to a specific game, a small menu bar appears on-screen for about 5 seconds that provides information on how to access stats and scores. While access to the stats and scores is nice, the menu system is quite annoying as there is no way to turn it off when you memorize the menu's buttons.

As a NFL SUNDAY TICKET owner, SuperFan just doesn't give me enough to warrant another payment of $99.

The bottom line is that I like what I saw, but wish DirecTV would make this just a part of the regular NFL SUNDAY TICKET package.

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