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Are Bars and Restaurants Ready For Streaming Sports?

Stephen Silver

Last week, I went to watch the first Sunday of English Premier League action at a bar that hosts fans of my favorite team. Arriving a few minutes after the match started, I noticed that everyone in the bar was crowded around one of the bar’s many televisions. Why? The match was airing exclusively on Peacock, and the bartenders had only figured out how to get the streaming service on one of the TVs so far.

The bar eventually figured out how to get it going on every TV, but it’s far from the only time that something like this has happened, and it’s likely to become a bigger problem as streaming assumes an increasingly important role in the sports broadcasting landscape.

When one-off baseball games by the local team, for instance, are streaming on Peacock or Apple TV+, as they started to be this season, it raises the prospect of restaurant and bar owners having no idea how to show their customers the game.

That’s because the way sports, especially football, have traditionally been presented in bars and restaurants, has been through subscriptions to cable, DIRECTV, or the terrestrial versions of major sports packages. This is especially the case with pro football when numerous fans flock to bars on fall Sundays to watch the day’s entire slate of NFL games.

A report in early August stated that DIRECTV was near a deal with Prime Video to carry “Thursday Night Football” games in restaurants, bars, and other commercial establishments, although there’s been no official announcement of a deal yet. That report added that the national chain Buffalo Wild Wings — which makes the ability to watch football at its locations a key selling point in its advertising — lacks the technological ability to stream Prime Video in many of its locations.

Another issue that could cause problems for restaurants as football season approaches is internet latency and the possibility that streams on different TVs might not sync with each other making for a very weird viewing experience. And if a big chain like Buffalo Wild Wings can’t handle the tech, there’s a good chance standalone bars will have that same issue.

The other issue is the widespread expectation that the NFL Sunday Ticket package will switch from its longtime home on DIRECTV to a streaming service starting in 2023, most likely from Apple or Amazon, in order to make it easier to for fans to get the package at home.

There have been reports that DIRECTV could retain Sunday Ticket for bars and restaurants starting next fall, but if not, expect delays and confusion if you head out to your favorite local establishment to watch Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.

NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Sunday Ticket is a subscription video streaming service that allows football fans to watch every live out-of-market NFL game on Sunday afternoons. It is included free for new DirecTV subscribers (allowing streaming through the NFL Sunday Ticket App), or it can be purchased as a standalone streaming product if you live in a dorm or apartment without access to the satellite version of NFL Sunday Ticket.

Unlike NFL RedZone, which bounces from game to game, Sunday Ticket is superior for fans who want to see every play of their favorite teams, even if they don’t live where the games are locally televised.

Sunday Ticket offers three plans: the Student Plan for US$ 99.96 / vuosi, the To Go Plan for US$ 293.96 / vuosi, and the Max Plan for US$ 395.99 / vuosi.

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