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Great Moments In Living with the NFL Hegemony

Jun 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

Deflated Football

A true story from late this morning:

Guy: Thank you for calling DirecTV, how can I help you?

Me: Hi, I just got the notice that my NFL Sunday Ticket package is going to renew in September unless I call to cancel. I’d like to cancel, please.

Guy: You currently have NFL Sunday Ticket, correct?

Me: Well, I had it last season. It was free as part of that offer. I don’t want to pay for it, though, so I’d like to cancel.

Guy: Would you be willing to keep NFL Sunday Ticket if it were offered at a lower price?

Me: No. I don’t watch football. Just, not at all. I had it free last year and didn’t use it once.

Guy: You don’t watch football?

Me: An occasional college game, but I don’t like the NFL.

Guy [somewhat incredulously]: You’re not an NFL fan? Really?

Me: Really.

Guy: I see you have the MLB Extra Innings package, though.

Me: Well, yes. That’s baseball. I like baseball. I don’t like football, though, so I don’t want the football package.

Guy: I’m sorry, I just meant that I see that you’re a sports fan, so . . . [tails off, realizing he’s straying from “the customer is always right” thing]

Me: Nah.

Guy: OK, I’ll have to transfer you to our cancellations department. I’ll just put a note on your account [quotes note as he’s typing] “Does. Not. Like. The. NFL.” [there is still a pretty strong note of incredulity in his voice].

To be fair, the representative to whom I spoke was quite pleasant and, after that brief exchange, my request was handled to my satisfaction, as was another unrelated request. I really do love DirecTV and have never had a thing to complain about with respect to their product or their customer service. I highly recommend them if you have the means and don’t have tall trees to you direct southwest.

Still: the notion that someone merely saying that they’re not a fan of professional football is surprising to people tickles me. You can tell it made him go off script for a second. I almost felt like it would’ve been easier to whip out the almost always inadvisable “don’t you know who I am?” thing. Because if he was aware of my football-hating bonafides, it woulda saved us some time.

  1. norvturnersneck - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Why does it, Sunday Ticket, have to be so expensive anyways?

    • dan1111 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      The conversation suggests that maybe it doesn’t have to be so expensive. Just call, threaten to cancel, and see what “lower price” they offer you…

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        That’s definitely the case.

      • seeinred87 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        You can do this for pretty much any service. I’ve done it a handful of times with SiriusXM, plus both WOW and Comcast. Just call up and ask to speak with their retention department.

      • yahmule - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        I’ve done it with Sunday Ticket more than once. Now that I live in Colorado and get all the Bronco games, I don’t bother with Sunday Ticket at all. I wouldn’t mind having access to all the other games, but not for the price they charge.

      • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Believe it or not, my neighbor got a lower price on his property tax bill in San Diego! His bill was higher, and he wrote asking for an explanation why it went up so much. He got another, lower tax bill in response, and then questioned that one. He got yet another lower tax bill that was the amount he’d calculated under Proposition 13. I’ve gotten my phone and cable bills lowered by questioning the charges, but it’s amazing that cities are resorting to the ruse.

    • dowhatifeellike - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      I live out of market for my team, and Sunday Ticket runs about $20 a week, if you look at it that way. I usually just go to a bar where I can eat and drink with fellow fans. Only ends up costing a little more than watching from the couch.

    • dnc6 - Jun 20, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      Not sure if joking, or just never took economics 101.

      Because people will pay that much for it, and that’s approximately the number that maximizes DirecTV’s revenue.

    • nvl004 - Jun 21, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      i just got it for $209. buck and a quarter per game. It really isn’t all that bad, of course i have a roommate and he will split it with me.

      It’s expensive because people are willing to pay that much for it. Demand and all that nonsense.

  2. sckrapps - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Keep up the good fight, Craig.

  3. stevietimmy - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    You just wrote a whole article/post/blog thingwhatever about this amazing exchange? Wow.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      And you read it. I got paid for it. What’s your excuse?

      • 18thstreet - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:06 PM


      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Well, I make money off my blog on click-throughs, so when I find more egregious commentary, whether from Craig, or somebody else, I write about it … like the idea yesterday that Papi has a HOF resume.

    • dan1111 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      And he got paid to do that!

      Maybe he’s the one that should be mocking you…

      • stevietimmy - Jun 20, 2014 at 9:31 PM

        Well yes, that was somewhat my point. He actually gets paid to write some of this stuff.

    • Wesley Clark - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Never trust a man with two (2!!!!) first names.

      • paperlions - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Wait a second…..I don’t trust you, or I do, damnit!

      • SocraticGadfly - Jun 20, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        Calcaterra is a first name?

  4. dowhatifeellike - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    I called them just yesterday to cancel the free premium channels before they start billing me for them. The agent kept asking about what kind of movies I like, and if I’d like Starz or Cinemax if they gave me a discount. It took 5 minutes of back and forth before “I’ve had these channels for 3 months and literally have not watched them. I don’t want them.” started to sink in.

  5. geoknows - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I find DirecTV’s customer service nightmarish to deal with. Glad you’ve had good experiences, Craig.

    A brief amusing anecdote: When I called in to get the MLB Extra Innings package a few years back I had the opposite experience. The agent was astounded that I was ordering it.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      I can imagine that conversation: “But sir, don’t you know Baseball is DYING?!?”

      • girardisbraces - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        It’s like you’re a communist if you don’t watch football.
        (I don’t mind pro football, but I can’t stand college football. Which apparently makes me weird.)

  6. chill1184 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    I read somewhere (back during this past season) that the NFL may seek a different provider for the Sunday ticket. The article speculated that FIOS could be the target which does make sense since only on Verizon you can get the radio broadcasts on it’s app.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      They may go that route. Or it’s a negotiating tactic to get Direct TV to increase their offer. There was also talk of another company buying out Direct TV, but the current nature of the expiring deal with the NFL has that on a holding pattern.

      • chill1184 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        There were reports of AT&T buying Direct TV but I haven’t seen if it past government regulation yet.

      • uwsptke - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        It’s AT&T, and there probably won’t be any hangups since their primary services don’t overlap (Uverse notwithstanding). In fact, the whole acquisition is probably stipulated on the NFL deal being renewed and possibly expanded to be offered to Uverse customers as well.

  7. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    In all fairness, the Sunday Ticket package is the sole reason Direct TV is still even in business. Sure there are some people who can’t get TV otherwise, but I’m not entirely sure there’s enough to keep them afloat without it. It’s why they fight so hard to keep what should be an illegal monopoly. The reason the package is so expensive is it costs them a ton of cash to keep the NFL from offering the service to cable companies such as Comcast, Verizon, and Time Werner. (At least in the US, as Canada, Mexico, and some European countries have Sunday Ticket on both cable and satellite. So I understand this guy’s perspective. Likely the overwhelmingly majority of Direct TV subscribers have the Sunday Ticket as that’s the sole reason they sign up for the service in the first place.

    It’s kind of like when you hear cops say all [insert random stereotype] are criminals. It’s because that cop has been working the same beat for 25 years and is quite simply ignorant. It doesn’t make him right, and it’s certainly not OK that he has those thoughts, but when you are surrounded by anything day in and day out, you tend to apply that small minded view to the world at large.

    • brianincbus - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      I disagree, I don’t have the ticket, and would still have DirecTV over Comcrap. I hate Compcrap and they’re the only other option in my city.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Like I said, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but a generality. I would also suspect that people who want satellite but don’t want Sunday ticket would go with Dish network as their prices are typically MUCH more reasonable.

      • jwbiii - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        I’m with Brian on this one. My ComCast cable used to go down frequently. My DirecTV has gone down once in nine years. I don’t have the NFL package, I don’t care about the league as a whole, watching the local boys is enough of a time commitment for me.

    • normcash - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      There’s nothing at all illegal about it. The NFL has the right to sell broadcast rights to its games. DirecTV pays a fortune for the exclusive right to transmit out-of-market games. This season will be the final one under the current contract. My guess is that the NFL will really hold them up for a big increase in fees. Sunday Ticket is a HUGE drawing card for DirecTV

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        It may not be illegal. That’s really up for lawyers to decide. The above link has some very interesting information. (I’m not a huge fan of Gregg Easterbrook, but there are some things he makes a good point on, and this is one where we agree.) Personally, I think it tiptoes the line VERY closely, and really there is no good reason the service shouldn’t be available to multiple carriers.

    • mikhelb - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      “At least in the US, as Canada, Mexico, and some European countries have Sunday Ticket on both cable and satellite”

      In México the Sunday NFL Ticket its only available on one of the two satellite providers: SKY, Dish México has not been able to get the service because Televisa, part owner of SKY doesn’t allow it (just recently they forced every cable company they sell their channels to, to drop a company that broadcasts baseball in México, because Televisa did not like the competition from PCTV/TVC Deportes; those who did not agree to drop TVC were blacklisted and will not get Televisa’s channels when their current agreement runs out).

      On Cable it is only available in a limited amount of cable companies, each and everyone property of Televisa as they right now own about 80% of cable companies but only a limited amount of those companies can offer the NFL Sunday Ticket (as a TV company, Televisa is the biggest corporation in the world, it even owns Univisión in the US, the highest ranked in terms of Nielsen ratings hispanic network in the US).

  8. eagles512 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    In all fairness, not enjoying football is pretty ridiculous.

    • doctorofsmuganomics - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      that’s the rugby like sport, yes?

      • historiophiliac - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        No, it’s the one where they put on padding to have meetings. It’s like if a team of catchers got together to discuss what ball to throw and ran to the outfield and back in the middle of their discussions. Think: mouth-breather biathalon.

      • doctorofsmuganomics - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        sounds rather awful

      • historiophiliac - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        Oh, honey, it is. It’s so bad that they have to schedule the season when it gets yucky outside and people are desperate to watch something when it’s too cold and dark to go out. Also, they have to offer them meat in the parking lot to go to watch the meetings. Some people only watch the finale for the commercials too. And they brag about that. One year, they even slipped in a strip show during their mid-game stretch to get ratings.

      • mikhelb - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        yeah, but for babies.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Histo, that last comment of your was the best thing I’ve read all day. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face!

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        I grew up playing football and love it. I also played baseball growing up and love baseball. I don’t understand why many people on here are so keen to insult football and especially football fans. I don’t particularly care for cricket, but I recognize it is a difficult sport to play at a high level and I can respect that others enjoy watching it, even if I don’t.

      • Jonestein - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:45 PM

        @asimonetti – It is a reaction to mouth-breathing NFL fans telling baseball fans that baseball SUCKS and fuhball RULZ as well as the idiotic fuhball writers and their constant barrage of asinine “Baseball is Dying” articles. I wouldn’t have a damned bad thing to say about NFL football otherwise (I like it, but don’t love it like baseball).

        It’s kind of like us so called “Militant Atheists” – if religilists weren’t constantly trying to get their silly fairy tales legislated and shoved down our throats, we wouldn’t give religion another thought. They (particularly American Xtians) insist on taking the offensive, so we fight back.

      • doctorofsmuganomics - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        “if religilists weren’t constantly trying to get their silly fairy tales”

        Yeah, that’s not helping. Maybe you shouldn’t be the spokesperson

    • 18thstreet - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Wrong room.

    • lanflfan - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      I enjoy football and baseball, but I certainly understand that people have strong reasons not to like either (or both) sport. As a general rule I don’t ridicule someones choice of entertainment. Which team they root for may be open game.

      • kc114 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        The only so called sport that needs ridiculing is basketball. It’s inconsequential score after inconsequential score after inconsequential score.

  9. thomas844 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    When I was younger I always got the, “You’re a boy and you don’t watch Sportscenter?” line. I don’t watch Sportscenter because they talk about NFL seemingly non-stop, even when it’s not football season. I don’t mind football, I just find it boring. People always say baseball is boring, but isn’t football the sport where something happens for about 3 seconds and then you wait another 30 seconds until something else happens?

    • zzalapski - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” – George Will

      • yahmule - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Yeah, that George is full of pithy little quips, isn’t he?

      • paperlions - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        Odd that he would make such a statement, and then (years later) be so flippant about violence against women and rape. Apparently, violence doesn’t bother him much as long the victims are female.

    • jlovenotjlo - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      To be precise, its about 11 minutes of actual playing between whistles in a typical NFL football game. 11 minutes x 16 games = Just under 3 hours for an entire season. All those billions of dollars, talking every day, all year round…. for 3 hours + playoffs (~11-44 minutes extra depending on how well you do).

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      I don’t watch Sportscenter because ESPN is awful. I get better sports news from NBC Sports and the SportsTalk blogs

  10. rbts2014 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    can’t wait for November to ditch DIRECTV when my 24 month contract is up. I”m tired of paying $32/mo in junk fees for a excruciatingly slow, still buggy 19 months after installation genie system with one additional outlet. Worst hardware EVER!

    I went through the same BS about cancelling sunday ticket after my first season of it free, but I just used “not around on sundays to watch sunday ticket” excuse. With the Cowboys and broncos on off-air tv every week since this is Cowboys and Broncos country, the games on off-air, plus the NBC Football Night in America highlights show plus the 3 national primetime games are more than enough NFL to tide me over in the MLB/MILB offseason.

    • mikhelb - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Thing is you shouldn’t use excuses to cancel something you do not want.

      • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Exactly. You don’t have to give an excuse, and the best answer to ‘I have to have a reason’ is “I don’t have to give you a reason”.

  11. senotonom205 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    I love football, don’t get me wrong, but the reaction I get when I tell people i’d rather watch a baseball game than a football game always surprises me. You would think I killed someones brother when I tell them that i’d rather see the Tigers win the WS than see the Lions with the Superbowl.

    • silversun60 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      I’m from Canada…eh…..and you should see the looks I got when the question “did you watch the stanley cup final game last night?” was asked… and I answered “Nope… Dickey was pitching for the Blue Jays! Can’t miss that….”

      • senotonom205 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Being from the Detroit area, I may be one of the few that understand your pain on this one as well. You should see the looks I get when I try to switch off a Wings playoff game for a regular season Tigers game.

  12. jm91rs - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Coming from someone with no Cable / Dish connection at home….I like Baseball better than football, but I’d rather watch a football game to be honest. Now if there’s a radio nearby I’ll take good old 700wlw Reds Broadcasts over HDTV football games any day. It’s far more enjoyable for me to listen to the game while I’m on the move and picture it in my mind than to watch it and sit through commercials. I catch the highlights on the at bat ap on my phone if I really need to see a great catch or hit. Football on the radio doesn’t translate the same way.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      That’s likely because you’re using Google Translate. It does a fine job but many subtleties get lost.

      • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        I’m not so sure about the “fine job”. While researching the origin of “Ay Caramba”, I found the original Spanish word replaced by caramba, and Google Translate said it means “Golly!”. The original word actually refers to a sex act.

  13. denny65 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    I usually get blank stares of disbelief when I inform my Seattle-area neighbors and friends that I’m not a Seahawks fan and that, no, my “12th Man!” flag has not been misplaced.

    But then I get small, quiet “ohs” when I tell them I’m a Mariners fan, as if I’m the crazy uncle who somehow managed to escape from the attic.

    • jm91rs - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Is it true that the Seattle Sounders are a bigger draw than the Mariners?

      • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        The Supersonics fans had to go somewhere.

  14. jlovenotjlo - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    The only thing NFL football has on other professional sports is its playoff format.

    Baseball could really learn from awarding a strong regular season with a 1st round bye.

    • tmc602014 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      um. There is a first round bye, and the competition to reach that single game has widened the pennant race into a playoff race recently.

      • jlovenotjlo - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        Yeah 102 win division winners should be treated the same as 85 game division winners, that’s good, and doesn’t cheapen the 162 game season.

  15. thepalehorse775 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    “I don’t like football.”

    That’s fine although you seem to be on some kind of silly crusade against football when, in reality, there are many fans of both sports. How much traffic does this site get from Profootballtalk anyway?

  16. philliesblow - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    I wonder if Florio will link to this on PFT?

    • grumpyoleman - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      No because it’s not a discussion about changing the Redskins name.

  17. sisqsage - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Is this really that surprising? Direct-TV and the NFL make a fortune off of each other.
    The NFL Scouting COMBINE now outdraws an important MLB game in the ratings game.
    I love both sports and always enjoy a baseball game on the tube, no matter how much America’s viewing habits are tilting so heavily in the NFL’s favor. Pete Rozelle and his lieutenants set the foundation from the late 60s on, realizing their sport was a perfect marriage with TV, and the NFL has thrived ever since from a cash cow perspective.
    Yeah, I used to love Direct-TV too before the Great Recession hit. They lost me when they arbitrarily decided to hike the Sunday Ticket rate from an advertised price of 44.99 to 49.99 just because THEY COULD… right before the season started.
    Those cancellation stories are so true. I made up my mind I was going to cancel and called up during the small window of time to avoid a $200 penalty, and the first D-TV gal immediately got the cancellation pro on the line (I think they are under-employed defense attorneys actually). She was very impressive and the angel gave me a hell of a rate. But I didn’t go for it because I was already looking forward to having one less pricey bill to worry about in tough times.
    Since then I have signed up for the radio feeds to MLB and the NFL and listen (through my computer) to both teams’ radio guys, and have access to any game being played that day/night for pennies on the dollar. It’s been awesome. Listened to Steiner’s call on the No-No a few night’s ago, which was worth the whole season right here.
    With cheap radio feeds, Twitter and Yahoo sports (which airs NBC’s TV signal for every NFL Sunday night game for free) there are cheaper alternatives out there in the new information landscape that can help you get your sports fix and not miss so much by cancelling the super expensive Direct-TV. Scrolling Twitter while a game is in progress and getting instant insight from both teams’ beat writers is pretty cool, I must admit.
    With the info explosion out there, it’s a great time to be a sports fan and media consumer. With all of the competition out there for eyeballs, you can save a little cash too.

  18. maddog11896 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    I personally hate football with a passion

  19. historiophiliac - Jun 20, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Craig, this is going on your permanent record, you know.

    Calcaterra, C. — JD, possible Brohioan, Socialist ****does not like NFL****
    ///review of library records negative
    end trans////

    • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Hah! I had all kinds of stuff put on my permanent record, and it didn’t stop me from carving out a career in the medical research field. Somebody had to clean out those cages.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 22, 2014 at 12:50 PM


  20. steelerfanforlife - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Craig Calcaterra
    Jun 20, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
    And you read it. I got paid for it. What’s your excuse?

    Seriously?!!! You are the biggest douche I’ve ever seen!!

  21. favrewillplay4ever - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Silly guys and their sports packages. If you’re a fan of a team that doesn’t often face blackouts and live out of their network… Just do what I did.

    Packers fan living in Vikings territory… Called and told dish we bought another house in Green Bay and wanted to get our local channels. We have paperless billing so the switch was as simple as them switching my network.

    I get all my Packers and Brewers games now instead of the Vikes and Twins games. Only thing we miss out on is the “local” news for our area.

    I’d imagine it would be the same for a Reds fan living in San Diego or anything else like that.

    • gloccamorra - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      You have violated all kinds of rules and regulations, and the full wrath of the FCC, MLB, NFL, FBI and several other 3-letter agencies will be visited upon you.

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