Does NFL Sunday Ticket Show Preseason Games

The return of professional football is an exciting time for NFL fans. After months of anticipation, preseason kicks off in August followed by the regular season start in September.

Many fans are eager to watch their favorite teams take the field again, even in exhibition games. But if you subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, you may be wondering – does it include preseason matches?

The short answer is no, NFL Sunday Ticket does not provide access to any preseason games.

Sunday Ticket is focused exclusively on the NFL’s 17-week regular season. While it’s a great way to watch out-of-market Sunday afternoon games, preseason is not available on Sunday Ticket through any platform.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down exactly what is and isn’t included with NFL Sunday Ticket. We’ll also explore all your options for watching NFL preseason games through streaming, local channels, national broadcasts, and more.

Whether you’re a current Sunday Ticket subscriber or considering signing up, read on to learn everything you need to know about this popular NFL viewing package.

What Does The NFL Sunday Ticket Package Include?

First, let’s quickly recap what NFL Sunday Ticket offers its subscribers.

NFL Sunday Ticket is a premium sports package distributed by DIRECTV. It gives fans access to most Sunday afternoon regular season games that are broadcast outside of their local TV market.

Some of the key details on Sunday Ticket:

  • Comes in two packages – a base Sunday Ticket plan focused just on the games, or a Max package which also includes extras like NFL RedZone and a fantasy football channel.
  • The basic Sunday Ticket package starts at $349-389 for the 17-week NFL regular season.
  • Included with both packages are all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games broadcast on CBS and FOX networks. If you’re say, a New England Patriots fan living in Miami, it allows you to watch the Pats games not shown locally in Miami each week.
  • Sunday Ticket was originally only available to DIRECTV satellite subscribers. Recently it has expanded to a streaming version for customers without DIRECTV service, if eligible.
  • There is also a discounted Sunday Ticket Student Plan available for students at accredited colleges or universities.

The common thread is that all Sunday Ticket plans focus exclusively on the NFL’s regular season. Let’s look specifically at why preseason games are not included.

Why Doesn’t Sunday Ticket Include Preseason Games?

When subscribers sign up for NFL Sunday Ticket, they gain access to an extensive selection of out-of-market regular season matchups aired on Sundays. So why doesn’t this package extend to preseason action?

There are a few reasons preseason games are not featured on Sunday Ticket:

  • Limited national interest – Demand is lower for exhibition matches compared to regular season and playoffs. Casual fans are less likely to want to pay extra to watch preseason.
  • Reduced accessibility via local broadcasts – Most preseason games air locally on regional team networks. Sunday Ticket aims to provide games not easily accessible to out-of-market viewers.
  • League media rights restrictions – Contracts with television networks limit how preseason broadcasts can be distributed on a national level.
  • Lower production value – Preseason games tend to have scaled-back production elements that networks invest more heavily in once regular season begins.

While preseason allows teams to evaluate rosters and prepare for the season, the games themselves hold less significance. For providers like DIRECTV, there isn’t enough national demand for preseason matches to justify the substantial rights fees required to include them in an out-of-market package like Sunday Ticket.

Now that we’ve explained why Sunday Ticket excludes preseason action, let’s explore the many alternative ways you can tune into NFL preseason games.

How To Watch NFL Preseason Games Without Sunday Ticket?

Don’t have access to preseason matches through Sunday Ticket? Not a problem! Here are numerous options football fans can use to watch NFL preseason contests leading up to the September 8th regular season kickoff:

Stream Preseason Games with NFL+

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to catch out-of-market preseason action is with the league’s own streaming platform, NFL+.

NFL+ replaced NFL Game Pass as the flagship streaming service for watching NFL games without a cable/satellite subscription. One key advantage NFL+ has over Sunday Ticket is it provides live access to preseason matchups.

Here are the details on watching preseason with NFL+:

  • NFL+ comes in at just $4.99/month or $39.99/year for the basic tier which includes live out-of-market preseason games.
  • The games are available live and on-demand to stream on a wide variety of connected devices. Preseason can be watched on smart TVs, streaming sticks, phones, computers and more.
  • Local preseason broadcasts on regional team networks are accessible out-of-market. So a Bills fan living in California could stream the Buffalo affiliate’s preseason telecasts through NFL+.
  • Announcers for the local preseason broadcasts are included on NFL+, rather than national preseason commentators.

While the regular season offering on NFL+ is limited for non-mobile devices, the preseason perk makes it a simple and affordable complement to Sunday Ticket.

Tune Into Nationally Televised Preseason Games

In addition to local broadcasts, many NFL preseason games will be available on national television.

National preseason games fall into two categories – those only on NFL Network, and those simulcast more widely:

  • NFL Network – The league’s own cable channel provides live national preseason game coverage throughout August. At least one live game airs on NFL Network each preseason week.
  • Simulcast games – Select preseason contests are simulcast nationally on broadcast networks like CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN. These give NFL fans more viewing options without needing NFL Network.

Consult the NFL preseason schedule ahead of time to note which games will be available nationally. Having cable or satellite service with NFL Network, or a TV antenna if simulcast, provides plenty of preseason viewing possibilities without paying for an additional package like Sunday Ticket.

Watch Local Preseason Games with an OTA Antenna

One free and easy option for accessing preseason games is using an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to tune into local broadcasts.

Here are some benefits of watching preseason via OTA antenna:

  • Just connect the antenna to your TV and scan for available local channels – no monthly cost to watch local broadcasts.
  • Nearly all NFL preseason games air locally in the team’s home TV markets. An antenna picks up these regional broadcasts.
  • Channel lineups vary by location, but an antenna can access local CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and more based on where you live. Many preseason games air on these stations.
  • Simple solution for access to local games – doesn’t require signing up and paying for a streaming service. Picture quality is excellent with OTA antenna.

Consult online tools to identify which local stations an antenna can receive in your area before purchasing. An antenna is all many fans need to watch their favorite team take the field in August and early September.

Use a Live TV Streaming Service

Don’t want to deal with an antenna? Today’s popular live TV streaming services are another route for convenient access to NFL preseason games.

Platforms like Hulu Live, YouTube TV, FuboTV and others provide live local broadcast stations in addition to a wide range of sports and entertainment programming. Their base packages include the local and national channels airing preseason games.

Benefits of streaming preseason games through these services include:

  • Access to both local and national preseason broadcasts based on your package and location.
  • Can watch on mobile devices in addition to a home TV setup. Streaming sticks like Roku provide full access.
  • Cloud DVR features allow recording and rewatching preseason games on demand.
  • Don’t need a long-term contract. Can cancel or change packages month-to-month.

While pricier than an antenna, live TV streaming outlets offer another plug-and-play option for NFL preseason viewing without Sunday Ticket.

How Can Current Sunday Ticket Users Also Access Preseason?

Let’s switch gears to those viewers who already have regular season NFL games covered through Sunday Ticket. What are some ways current subscribers can supplement their package with access to preseason broadcasts?

Here are a few options worth considering if you want to watch preseason games in addition to the out-of-market Sunday regular season action you get with Sunday Ticket:


As outlined earlier, NFL+ provides a cheap and easy way to add preseason games to your existing football season setup.

At just $4.99/month, NFL+ is an affordable add-on to Sunday Ticket that opens up live out-of-market preseason streaming without cable or satellite service. You can conveniently access NFL+ on mobile devices, smart TVs, tablets, laptops and more.

Local Antenna

Pairing Sunday Ticket with a TV antenna is a great over-the-air complement. Use Sunday Ticket for your out-of-market Sunday regular season matchups, then turn to the antenna for local preseason broadcasts. No extra monthly fees to access local channels over the air!

Live TV Streaming Service

Alternatively, a live TV streaming provider like YouTube TV can provide both local preseason broadcasts and national games on ESPN, NFL Network and other channels. More expensive than an antenna, but offers expanded sports and entertainment options. A streaming package combined with Sunday Ticket gives you the best of both worlds.

With a little creativity, current NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers have plenty of options to ensure they don’t miss out on any preseason action leading up to kickoff.

Will Sunday Ticket Ever Include Preseason Games?

Some fans of this premium package for NFL games wonder if Sunday Ticket will ever incorporate preseason matches, or if the limited access is here to stay.

There are convincing cases to be made on both sides:

Reasons Sunday Ticket could add preseason games:

  • As more fans move to streaming TV, providing preseason access would increase the package’s value and appeal.
  • NFL is emphasizing streaming with platforms like NFL+ and partnerships with providers like Prime Video. Expanding Sunday Ticket fits this digital focus.
  • Technology advancements make it easier to broadcast more NFL content nationally via streaming.

Reasons preseason will likely stay off Sunday Ticket:

  • DIRECTV’s contracts with NFL are very restrictive on national streaming distribution – preseason availability complicates these agreements.
  • League can drive interest and subscriptions to NFL+ by keeping preseason exclusivity on that platform.
  • Providers may need to drastically raise Sunday Ticket pricing to cover increased rights fees if adding preseason.

Based on the current broadcast landscape, preseason games being unavailable on Sunday Ticket seems likely to continue. But never say never!

NFL Sunday Ticket Student Discount Plan

One final topic that causes some confusion is the Sunday Ticket Student Plan available at discounted pricing. Let’s clarify what this special Sunday Ticket package for students includes:

  • NFL provides Sunday Ticket Student Plans for students at accredited colleges and universities in the U.S.
  • Packages are discounted, but offer the same regular season Sunday afternoon out-of-market games as the standard Sunday Ticket options.
  • Students must verify enrollment status and eligibility each season to purchase the Student Plan.
  • Similar to the full-priced plans, the Student Sunday Ticket does not include access to any live preseason games. Only the NFL regular season out-of-market Sunday broadcasts.
  • Starting price is $109/season for the Student Plan, compared to $349 for regular Sunday Ticket. NFL+ can supplement with preseason access.

Don’t assume preseason is included with the NFL Sunday Ticket Student Plan. Like all Sunday Ticket packages, it contains only regular season action available to college students at a discounted rate.

Key Takeaways on NFL Sunday Ticket and Preseason Games

To recap this comprehensive guide, the key points to remember:

  • NFL Sunday Ticket provides live regular season Sunday afternoon out-of-market games, but does not include any preseason matches.
  • Lots of alternative ways exist to watch NFL preseason games, including NFL+, antennas, national TV, and streaming services.
  • Current Sunday Ticket users can pair it with NFL+, an antenna, or a streaming provider to also access preseason broadcasts.
  • It seems unlikely Sunday Ticket will ever incorporate preseason games, but remains a possibility long-term.
  • The discounted Student version of Sunday Ticket also excludes preseason, offering only regular season viewing.

While Sunday afternoons in the fall are reserved for the NFL regular season, there are still ample opportunities to tune into NFL preseason games leading up to kickoff. With this guide, football fans now have the insights to make sure they don’t miss any of the gridiron action.

Let the games begin!

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