UPDATE: Turns out that the customer service person we spoke with was wrong -- DirecTV will NOT be charging you until the lockout is resolved.
"In years past, we typically do start billing in July, but this year, due to the uncertainty around the NFL labor dispute, there will be absolutely no charge for your NFL SUNDAY TICKET subscription until it is confirmed that the 2011 NFL season will begin," Charles Miller, Director of Digital Care at DirecTV, told CBSSports.com. "What you and other customers will see on your July bill is a balance of $0.00 for the NFL SUNDAY TICKET portion and this will remain at $0 until the NFL dispute is resolved."
So, NFL fans have that going for them -- don't bother cancelling your subscription just yet.
DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" package has become a staple for the hardcore NFL fan over the past few years. Whether it's the Red Zone channel or just an excuse to buy six more televisions, there's always a great reason to shell out $53.99 in six monthly installments to watch piles of football.
This year? Yeah, not as much, since the we're less than 100 days away from the NFL's season beginning and the lockout is still firmly in place.
Here's DirecTV's latest statement on the issue, posted on their website:
We at DIRECTV love football. That's why for over 15 years, DIRECTV has been the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™, the only way to watch your favorite teams no matter where you live. And DIRECTV will continue to be the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™. Like all football fans, we are hoping for a positive resolution to the current NFL labor negotiations. And when the NFL is ready to play, we will be ready to bring you every game every Sunday.Now, this SOUNDS pretty "risk-free," right? There's just one problem: DirecTV starts billing for Sunday Ticket in July. And, come July, the NFL will still have a concrete start date: September 8, 2011. The schedule won't change until the labor situation actually impedes on the season. And, sure enough, a quick call to DirecTV customer service confirmed this.
If the NFL negotiations result in a shortened or canceled season, rest assured that DIRECTV has you covered. Your subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ is risk-free: You will not pay for any game that the NFL does not play.*
Please return to this page for the latest updates and news concerning your NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ subscription.
"We are going to start to charge for the NFL Sunday Ticket by … probably July 3 but there is no specific date," a DirecTV customer service representative told CBSSports.com. "But it will be in July."
See, that means if you had Sunday Ticket last year, per DirecTV's policy, you will have Sunday Ticket in 2011, unless you cancel. Making this infinitely more difficult is the fact that you can't cancel online. And because you're renewed, you will be charged beginning in about a month.
This is made even more confusing because on your June bill, you'll see a zero dollar charge for your Sunday Ticket automatic renewal.
That might seem to indicate you'll get it for free until the NFL season starts, but it doesn't. Because the reality is you'll be charged for Sunday Ticket from now until the season is actually cancelled and/or moved.
It's nice of DirecTV to love the NFL and to [claim to] care about fans, but it would be a whole lot nicer if they waited until the labor dispute is actually resolved before charging the people who foot the bill for this entire football operation.
And, yeah, suddenly it's a lot harder to feel sorry for DirecTV getting strong-armed by the NFL in television negotiations.
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