PlayStation 3 Video Service Review: DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket – The Beginning

Are you ready for some football?

Sure you are. The recent question has been is the NFL (National Football League) Sunday Ticket service through the PlayStation 3 ready?

The PlayStation 3 is the first gaming console to offer NFL game video streaming. For PlayStation 3 owners who do not currently have DirectTV, the service title says it all – live coverage in full High Definition (HD) for as many as 14 out-of-market games every Sunday during the 17-week regular season (no NBC Sunday night games, no EPSN Monday night game or NFL Network Thursday night games).

The PlayStation 3 already features video streaming services for National Hockey League (NHL GameCenter) and Major League Baseball ( games with the possibility of a National Basketball Association League Pass once their lockout ends.

NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV is also available on tablets, smartphones, DirecTV, JetBlue Airways, and the Internet. PlayStation 3 NFL Sunday Ticket users cannot use the service from their browser unless they are a NFL Sunday Ticket “To-Go” subscriber (computers, tablets, and mobile phones – users can only watch one game per device at a time).

Current DirecTV/NFL Sunday Ticket users can add the PlayStation 3 service for $50, which can be a convenient option when viewing the service in multiple rooms within a household…almost like having another receiver.

Live, commercial-free coverage is the focus here as the service feeds from CBS and Fox Sunday broadcasts. This PS3 service features live streaming video, highlights, statistics, and schedules. No contract or satellite dish is required. No cable TV? This is a viable option, but patience and long-term perspectives are definite virtues as beginning technical snafus have tainted the service.

Price point is an important consideration as this service costs nearly $100 more than the console itself. The fee is $339.96 per year ($84.99 every month for 4 months). This service averages out to approximately $20 each week.

On PlayStation 3, the NFL Sunday Ticket launch icon appears in the video services area along with Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc. This service has a separate login, so don’t forget your password. Once logged in players can hit the square button to make the main menu appear in the left column. The main menu contains Red Zone Channel, video highlights, game/player stats, standings, and full season schedule.

Besides the basic directional buttons/sticks to navigate and scroll through submenus, PlayStation 3 users control the service with the circle button (close), x button (select), and triangle button (options) plus the L2 and R2 to scroll through stats and highlights. The options consist of a helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list and logout option.

The colored bar at bottom of each game (on left column) has the following legend: green for scoring plays; red for red zone; and blue for all other plays. Users can replay pre-chosen highlights, but not specific moments in the game. It would be great to see future highlight options that follow the box scores or even a specific player.

The Red Zone Channel (RZC), located at the top left column, is sometimes confused with RedZone channel on the NFL Network. This channel features automatic switches among games where teams are currently getting ready to score from the “red zone”, which is at the 20 yard line or less. Users looking for a more narrative experience can certainly watch full games separately.

Occasionally RZC will feature key turnovers or other non-scoring highlights instead when no team is in the red zone or all games are at halftime, which occurred during the Week 2 service.

The RZC usually starts and ends five to ten minutes before and after the NFL games. Commercials for the service, usually featuring Deion Sanders appear at any other time. The first games begin with a 1 p.m. EST start and the late games usually end usually around 7 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. EST unless they go into overtime).

Andrew Siciliano does a great job hosting the entire day’s RZC coverage. During Week 1, this service quickly switched between Fox and the NFL Network’s program shows, but Week 2 went much better as users got the full RZC experience.

The automatic switches work great for house parties. Remote control couch commandos can now rest their fingers and enjoy their guests and the whole social experience more. This home experience can mirror or alter from a traditional stadium game experience. Convenience, weather, viewing size, team loyalty, and travel are just a few elements in this important analysis.

After a rough beginning week with several snafus including lacking visual delivery and many “Video not available at this time” notices, the service recovered in the second week with noticeable improvements and only a few video “freezes”.

The beginning broadcasts quickly alternated between the back and forth between Fox pregrame and the NFL Network, but picture issues were the biggest concerns. A switch from HD 1020p to 720p also helped during Week 1, otherwise the picture began with poor pixilation until it slowly got sharper. The late games (beginning at 4 p.m. EST for me) worked well enough for me to avoid any big embarrassments when friends came over in the early evening. There were missed moments and some lament, but Week 2 was a much better experience with smoother pictures and less “feed freezing”.

The PlayStation Network issued $24.99 credits for the subpar Week 1 service. Working within the confines on live television might save DirecTV and Sony money, but the issues are in the delivery. My Netflix service works fine so bandwidth is not the issue; it is the service. VuDu Movies did not work well through my PlayStation 3, so those bad feelings are surfacing again. Most users probably do not look to the NFL to offset their bad experiences so DirecTV and Sony must address these ongoing issues. The NFL product is great, but the service is not…yet.

Review: NFL Sunday Ticket (PlayStation 3)

Where to Buy: PlayStation Network (on PlayStation 3)

Price: $339.96

What I Like: commercial free, no contract required, Red Zone Channel, viable sports option without paying for satellite/cable, add-on option for DirecTV/NFL Sunday Ticket users

What Needs Improvement: price point, technical issues like visual glitches/pixilation, more options that keep users coming back throughout the week not only on Sunday,

Source: Provided by DirecTV

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