NFL 2012/2013: An Analysis for the Cord Cutting Sports Fan


​NFL 2012/2013 – An Analysis for the Cord Cutting ​ Sports Fan

For die-hard NFL fans cutting the cable cord presents a real challenge.
Although there is plenty of over the air and streaming content, many of the  games are available only on cable network channels. As a guide to the fan considering cutting the cord, I present this case study. To make it real I’ll consider the point of view of a Chargers fan living in my home town of San Diego, first for his local team and then for the entire set of NFL games.


photo: SD Dirk flickr

NFL Preseason W: 3  L:1

Checking with the 2012 San Diego Chargers schedule I find three out of four games are on local TV. I can watch these for free with just an antenna. Unfortunately preseason game number one is on ESPN. I’ll need to buy a ticket or  go to a sports bar to see that one.


NFL Regular Season W: 13  L:3

I will  miss three of the sixteen regular games that are on NFLN or ESPN. The other thirteen are available on local free broadcast. Note that home games are subject to black-outs if the tickets are not close to sold out, a fact that continually  irks the local fan base. Here in San Diego count on missing at least one game due to black-outs. Don’t blame that on cord-cutting though. The only way to see those games is attend live or go out of town (or possibly get creative with a sling box).


NFL Post Season W: 11 L:0

At the time of this writing the 2012/2013 post season TV schedule is not available, so I’m basing this on what happened  in 2011/2012. Good news! I won’t miss a single game as every one shows up on either CBS, NBC or Fox, including the Superbowl.


All NFL Games W: 96  L: 160

There are a total of 256 games in a regular season (32 teams = 16 match-ups x 16 games) .  I refer to the 2012-2013 schedule posted here. The bad news is Monday night games seems to be all on ESPN this year so forget about those. And most of the Thursday games are on NFL Network. What’s left for the cord cutter? NBC, CBS and FOX will all be showing games on Sunday. Counting both the 10am and 1pm games yields 6 games per Sunday. The total games available in the regular  season is roughly 96.


What About NFL Sunday Ticket?

NFL Sunday Ticket is a package from DirecTV  that offers all the regular season games . Whether or not it is a cord-cutter tool for 2012/2013 remains to be seen. Last year we rejoiced when  NFL Sunday Ticket came to Playstation without requiring a DirecTV subscription.

The good news for 2012 is a big price reduction from over $300 to only $199. The bad news is it looks like you can only get the package with at least a basic DirecTV subscription.



For the fan worried about watching the local team, cord cutting is not too bad. You’ll only miss a few games.  But for the  die-hard NFL fan,  you will be missing many of the games, especially Monday night and probably some key match-ups that will be on ESPN or NFLN.

UPDATE 6-5-12: 

Xbox Live solves some of the issues with Monday night football.

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6 Responses to NFL 2012/2013: An Analysis for the Cord Cutting Sports Fan

  1. Brad says:

    If you can break the habit of watching on Sundays and instead wait until Mondays to watch the game, and you have a way to stream content to a suitably large screen, you could check out NFL Game Rewind.

    I watched all of my games that way last year after getting sick to death of the price of Sunday Ticket. Games are not available when a NFL game is being shown on TV, so they don’t go up until Monday morning, and even then you have to get them started before the Monday night game starts (I found that you will not be cut off when it starts, it will continue to play). The quality was good, we watched on our living room big screen HD TV, and you get the added benefit of having zero commercials in it. You can pause, fast forward, rewind and jump around in the stream as you would expect. They also have other features like watching a game compressed into 30 minutes of highlights, but I’ve never tried that.

    Price is reasonable, too. There are some different packages, but expect to pay somewhere between $35 and $70 for the season. The biggest complaint is the whole “no watching while a game is on regular TV” thing. It can be difficult to avoid game scores for one you want to watch, especially if you live in the town where the team plays (I don’t, so it’s not too bad for me).

  2. Ryan says:

    Nice guide! Stinks for cord cutters that you need a DirectTV sub to watch Sunday ticket.

  3. Mike says:

    Regarding black outs, the NFL has reduced the threshhold to 85% of tickets sold to lift the local black out.

    Also, when a game is on ESPN or NFL Network, an OTA station in each team’s home market can simulcast the game. For example, I live in metro Atlanta and when the Falcons are on one of those cable networks, one of the independent OTA stations also shows the game. So, a fan’s home team can always be seen provided the fan lives in that team’s metro and the ticket sales are enough to lift the home team blackout. is a good website which hosts maps showing the broadcast areas for OTA games.

  4. admin says:

    Hi Mike,
    Sorry the delayed response here but I appreciate your comment. Blackouts of local games is another topic that we have been looking into. By the way your link goes to a log in page. Is there some way to share the content without signing up? (though i might)

  5. Jamie says:

    After seeing this article:

    I called espn at 1-888-549-3776 and was told Monday night football looks to be included in the xbox 360 live subscription.

    • Jamie says:

      didn’t see the update for 6-5 but still should note that x-box 360 customer support had not received any updated information about the new agreement with espn. Was told to contact espn and above is what I was told by them.

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