Recession or not, big-screen televisions sell like hotcakes at the start of the football season, then again at Super Bowl time. DirecTV has persuaded millions of subscribers to buy into its satellite delivery technology to win access to an exclusive "NFL Sunday Ticket" games package. This fall, ESPN will claim a leadership position with college football telecasts in 3-D, likely to convert many to the newest TV technology. Looming even larger this season, football game tech is going wide, deep and personal with small, mobile devices and apps. And extra dimensions to satisfy the most fanatic football follower.
As if juggling a hot dog and a beer, schmoozing with friends and watching the field action weren't enough, fans convening at 12 NFL stadiums this season can chow down on custom-crafted video bites of the game with a small portable TV called FanVision.
About the size of a Nintendo DS, with a 4.3-inch color screen bright enough to be viewed in moderate sunlight and a six-hour battery to see you through the game, a FanVision set picks up dedicated digital TV channels beaming around the stadium and parking lots.
What's to see here that you won't on the field or big stadium screen? FanVision offers instant replays from multiple angles, a "Cheerleader Cam" view, access to the NFL Red Zone Channel and (maybe) out-of-town games based on your division.
Other channels offer Fantasy Football updates and stats, and in-depth audio analysis. And if you stick around long enough by choice or parking-lot jam, FanVision delivers an exclusive highlight reel and the coach's postgame news conference.
$199.99, with a per game fee of $5 that's waived the first year. The device also works at home games for the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
Now that's the ticket
If you've got the mobile bandwidth, the newly launched NFL Sunday Ticket To Go service offers a most filling football feast … wherever.
The basic, long available Sunday Ticket package for DirecTV satellite customers goes for $59.99 a month in season ($299 total), delivering 14 games Sunday afternoons in standard or high-definition. (Local blackout rules apply, and night or weekday games aren't carried.)
This deal also includes the Game Mix Channel (four games on one screen), the Red Zone (scores and stats) Channel plus Short Cuts, an edited recap compressing a game to 30 minutes, shown Monday and Tuesday nights.
A version of Sunday Ticket that streams to computers has been available for a while to those who can't get satellite TV reception. Last month, DirecTV activated mobile "apps" so NFL Sunday subscribers can also punch their Ticket on iPhones, iPads, select Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices and the Palm Pre — for an additional $9.95 a month.
Looking for a game-to-go app that won't bust a budget?
• CBS Sports Pro Football for iPad and iPhone, Android and BlackBerry is a free app. You get live NFL scores, news, stats and videos. And gain complete control of your CBSSports.com fantasy teams. Some complain the software is "buggy," but the price is right.
• ESPN Score Center's free mobile version delivers plays, stats and scoreboards. Premium $4.99 ScoreCenter XL for the iPad adds live play-by-play and video highlights.
• NBC Sunday Night Football All Access is a free, iPad-exclusive app, enhancing the broadcast viewing experience with real-time stats and team info.
• NFL.com Game Center 2010 is a $4.99 "premium" edition app for mobile phones adding "Big Play" audio highlights of every game, customized "My Team" game alerts, postgame news conference videos, plus scoreboards, recaps and play-by-play.