DirecTV (DTV:US) is trying to hook football fans while they are young.
The largest U.S. satellite TV provider is offering students at 10 universities its $199.99 NFLSundayTicket.TV, an online service that will start streaming games on Sept. 7. The offer also includes residents of New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco who can’t receive DirecTV satellite signals.
Users aren’t required to buy DirecTV’s satellite dish or TV service to get live streams of games happening outside their local market.
Sports are one of the major draws for cable and satellite subscribers. Having a legal way to stream games online may make college students more interested in paying $75 a month or more for pay TV when they graduate and move into places where DirecTV is available.
While the DirecTV offer expands the streaming service to 10 schools, online Sunday Ticket availability is still limited to DirecTV subscribers or people who could prove they were unable to sign up for the satellite service, normally because they live in a building that doesn’t permit satellite dishes.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities to maximize our investment in the NFL Sunday Ticket Product. In this case, we’re exploring various ways to make it available to those customers who can’t get DirecTV service,” said Darris Gringeri, a DirecTV spokesman.
“We look at schools as another pocket of people who may not have access to DirecTV,” he said.
The schools included are the University of Washington, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, University of Florida, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Alabama, Syracuse University, Ohio State University and Harvard University.
AT&T Inc. (T:US) agreed to buy DirecTV in May for $48.5 billion, a transaction that will require regulatory approval. The deal is contingent on DirecTV extending its contract with the National Football League to continue providing its Sunday Ticket package, which includes Sunday afternoon games across the country.
The popularity of sports programming has help drive consolidation in the pay-TV industry as cable, satellite and telephone companies try to secure content and contain rising programming costs. AT&T made its deal for DirecTV in part to create a more formidable competitor against the proposed union of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWX:US)
Gringeri said DirecTV is doing more marketing of Sunday Ticket right now. He said the three cities weren’t picked because of cable rivalries. Philadelphia is where Comcast is based, and New York is the home of Time Warner Cable.
Still, net streaming of football games could be a key influence for potential cord-cutters on the home bases of its cable competitors. Like San Francisco, the cities are dense urban environments with many apartment dwellers, making them less likely to use a satellite service.
There are no further plans for expansion, Gringeri said.
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