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Football, At Home or Away? Podcast #387

It's football season, and we're ready to watch a serious amount of football. For us, it's one of those things that you miss in the off season, but you don't really realize how much you miss it until it it's back. A recent San Diego Chargers pre-season game was blacked out because they didn't sell enough tickets. To see it live, you had to attend, which isn't cheap. Is it worth it?

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Football, At Home or Away?

It's football season, and we're ready to watch a serious amount of football. For us, it's one of those things that you miss in the off season, but you don't really realize how much you miss it until it it's back. A recent San Diego Chargers pre-season game was blacked out because they didn't sell enough tickets. To see it live, you had to attend, which isn't cheap. Is it worth it?

We thought it might be interesting to compare the relative pros and cons of watching Football at home or away - in this case, 'away' means away from your home theater. There are reasons to do either, and of course costs associated with both. In the end, which one makes the most sense? We'll let you decide.

We'll use the Chargers as our example throughout the discussion. We live close enough to San Diego to to attend a game without buying airline tickets. For those who live further away from your favorite team, like Ara and his beloved Chicago Bears, you'll probably opt to stay home for a vast majority of the games.

Watching the Game
So what does it cost to attend a regular season football game? Tickets start at around $45, but that's for the worst seats in the house. There's really no comparison to watching on TV because you can barely see what's going on. For sake of argument, let's jump up to the $100 seats so we can actually see the game. For a family of 5, that's $500 plus parking and gas, let's say $550.

Now let's say you stay home. Of course you have to have some kind of HDTV service to see the game, but you can get 4 games per month on one bill, plus there's all the other content you watch when football isn't on. So if you have a $100 per month HDTV bill, three hours out of the month for a game is roughly $3.33, assuming you watch approximately 3 hours of TV per day.

Doesn't it seem that when you go to a football game, or any live sporting event for that matter, everyone is hungrier than normal? They down nachos, hot dogs, pizza, cokes, beer, popcorn, candy, chips, pretty much anything and everything. Assuming each person in the family of 5 can eat on $20, you're looking at $100 for food.

At home, you can eat all you want an barely crack the $20 mark. Stock up on snacks at Costco or Sam's Club and $100 can easily last you for 4 or 5 football games. Unless you're throwing a party, we'll be generous and say that you can mow through $20 worth of junk food in a 3 hour sitting. That's for the family of 5.

Many would say that you need an HDTV to watch the games from home, so that cost has to be included in the equation. We don't agree. An HDTV is something you have anyways. We aren't charging you for a new car to go watch the football game, are we? But for sake of argument, let's say you needed to upgrade your TV to get the best possible experience. You can get a 65" 1080p HDTV for $1600. You break even after 3 games, so you have the last 13 games of the season, and hopefully the preseason, to enjoy the TV for free.

Attending in person (away)

  • You can't beat the live atmosphere
  • You're supporting your team


  • Cost
  • You can't escape the live atmosphere

Attending at home

  • Very economical, any way you look at it
  • Comfort and convenience of your own home
  • Better view of the game


  • There's nothing like "being there"
  • going to a game is a fun experience, especially for the kids

Economical home theater to make Football at home the only option

  • Mitsubishi WD-65737 65-Inch 1080p 120Hz DLP HDTV, $1600 (buy now)
  • Onkyo TX-SR607 7.2-Channel A/V Receiver, $425 (buy now)
  • Polk Audio RM705 5.1 Speaker System, $365 (buy now)
  • Total cost: $2390 or about 4 1/2 live football games.


Download Episode #387

Reader Comments (12)

Easy way to get cheap tickets of Football World Cup in online market.

I just wanted to say that the new slim ps3 fixes the audio limitations. Check it out here

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheCheapGeek

Hmm... I have absolutely no interest in watching American Football in any way shape or form :)

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanielD

I am going with my son tomorrow to see the Chargers and Cardinals pre-season game. We are Charger fans, so I got tickets on their side of the field, 50 yard line, third row. These tickets might cost hundreds for a regular game, but I got them for $70 each from StubHub! While it is not the regular season, the action and experience should still be great. And my son pointed out that all of the starters will be on the sideline close to us for most of the game!

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVance

There has been a lot of discussion about the cracked blu-rays from Netflix on the AVS forums. It seems that the root cause is miscalibrated equipment at the local post office sorting centers. That's why certain people get a high percentage of cracked discs, and some people never get a single one. There are also a few people who have gotten Netflix to fix the problem, with directions on how they did it. This post details using facebook to get a quick response.

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

If you aren't interested in American Football, substitute Hockey, Tennis, Lacrosse, Basketball, Premier League, Baseball, La Liga, Lawn Darts, Bowling, whatever you're into. For the most part, the result is still the same.

Here in southern California it's a bit different if you're a soccer fan. You can see the Galaxy play a the Home Depot center for pretty cheap. A family pack of 4 tickets, each with a hot dog and drink costs less than $100 total.

August 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBraden

Thinking about a world without packaged media can make one's head hurt! Every option has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let's consider the idea of all media being held "out in the Cloud". Each of us simply has an account. We log in to access the content and it gets streamed to us when we click the button. Maybe we pay for the content individually or maybe we pay a subscription. That all sounds well and good, but there are many potential problems!

The most obvious one is: what happens if you are without internet access for some reason? Having everything out in the Cloud means total dependence upon internet connectivity. My biggest concern is: what happens if a content provider decides to pull a certain piece of content? With everything in the Cloud and having everything just streamed to us when we click for it, we have no way of hanging on to any content for ourselves. If it's pulled from the Cloud, it's gone! Just like that.

So maybe having everything in the Cloud isn't such a good idea. Maybe it's better if we download all of our content and keep it on our own, local hard drives. But this has many potential problems as well. For one thing, every one of us would need massive amounts of hard drive capacity. What happens when a hard drive fails? And, of course, we have to consider internet bandwidth.

The there are the issues of ownership. How would we sell "used" media? Piracy becomes an even larger concern. Would movie studios ever agree to the notion that if a song sells for $1, maybe a movie is only going to sell for $4 and not $20?

We live in a fascinating time as our enormous entertainment industry struggles to cope with massive changes brought on by rapidly progressing technology. My personal viewpoint is this:

1) I always want to have the option of keeping my own copy of a piece of media. I love the idea of paying a monthly subscription and having access to ALL media - streamed to me whenever I click for it. But at any time, I want to be able to retain a local copy of any given piece of media so that I can always have them, even if they disappear from the Cloud.

2) I really don't care if my local copy is in the form of a disc, a memory card or just a file on a hard drive. But it seems to me that the most economical form of distribution is via the internet. Nothing to manufacture, nothing to ship and nothing to store - so overhead goes way down.

3) I think DRM/copy protection is unnecessary, but making money off of "unprotected" content demands a realization on the part of movie and TV studios that their content is no longer worth the high prices that they are asking.

My reasoning is this: even a person who is illegally downloading movies/TV shows via bittorrent is paying money for it. They are paying for their internet access, they are paying for their hard drives and they are paying with the time it takes to search for the files that they want on a bittorrent tracker and then the time it takes to download the file and often convert its file format.

Essentially, even the pirates are saying that they like movies and TV shows enough to pay something for them - it's just that they aren't willing to pay the asking price. Similarly, anyone who uses DVD cloning software to rent, rip and return DVDs is saying that they like movies and TV shows enough to pay the rental fee and the cost of hard drive space, but they just aren't willing to pay the retail asking price anymore.

Downloading via bittorrent is a hassle. Rent, rip, return is a hassle. But people put up with the hassle because of the huge savings in price vs. retail. But if the retail price were dramatically lower, people would weigh the hassle against that much lower price and most would opt for the convenience of the legal version at its low price.

The perfect example is the music industry. People have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they are entirely willing to pay $1/song. There is no longer any DRM - downloading illegal, free copies of songs is entirely possible. But the mere hassle of searching for illegal versions, downloading them and organizing them is being weighed against the convenience of paying $1 for the legal copy and people are opting to pay!

The key is the low price. If iTunes were charging $5/song, you can bet your behind that everyone would be opting for illegal downloads. The movie and TV studios simply need to recognize that their content can no longer be sold at the old, incredibly high prices. Work it out and a person who is rent, rip, returning is spending somewhere around $3 per disc anyway. Sell the legal version for $3.99 and it removes all incentive to take the illegal route. Illegal Blu-ray versions take up more hard drive space and take longer to rip or to download. The cost of the illegal version is higher, so the legal version could be higher too: around $8. But these $30-$40 retail prices on Blu-ray just make people say, "Forget that! I'll just download the illegal version instead!"

So which is better? $4 for a DVD quality version and $8 for a Blu-ray quality version? Or $0 when people baulk at the current retail prices and opt for illegal versions instead? It's a very similar situation and question that the music industry faced years ago. They fought it tooth and nail. But once they came around to the idea of cheap songs with no DRM limitations, they've reaped the rewards. Eventually, the movie and TV studios will have to realize the same.

August 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

Another thing you guys always seam to forget about amazon is the white glove delivery on big sets 40"+.
Owning a smaller car, this is god send.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Hi Braden:

Love the show - usually download it to my GPS and listen while on the road. I like watching football in the comfort of my man cave. I'm only a half hour away from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, but the cost of Steelers tix is crazy expensive. Watching at home is more enjoyable - don't have to worry about someone throwing up on you, and I can pause the game on my DVR. 'Nuff said. Thanks.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike K

Hi Guys I've been listening to the podcast for about 4 months now and I really love it....I'm barely 22 and slowly trying to get all my systems fully equipped, and with the knowledge that you guys share is really simple,easy and fun...

Keep the good work, and I love the Show..Thank you

San Antonio, TX

August 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I prefer going to college football games as the atmosphere is much more exciting than NFL games. But I really like watching it at home too as you can see the game and plays much better than at the stadium. The biggest drawback for me at home are the announcers, they drive me crazy sometimes with all the dumb things they say. So, since we upgrated to the HDTV and the broadcasts are in 5.1, I often just unplug/turn off the center channel and nearly get the best of both worlds. You can really feel (hear) the crowd energy and much more of the stadium sounds. It works great. The one drawback is if the announcer has a really deep voice then some of the base sounds come out of the sub so I end up having to turn that down sometimes aslo.

Grand Rapids, MI

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I can see the benefits of both going to games and watching them at home on TV. I am a NE Patriots Season Ticket Holder and attend just over half of the home games. It is "crazy" expensive, but spending a day out with friends, cooking great food in a parking lot and coming home unable to speak because I've spent the day screaming is an experience that makes the expense worthwile. Some of my fondest memories are of sitting in the stands when we won a championship,and sitting in the truck in minus fifteen degree weather while I was cooking chicken parm in a dutch oven on the ground outside the door. (I am not your average tailgater). I sit near a bunch of great guys and share seats with great friends.

Conversely- When I get a rare Sunday off and watch the game at home I can cook in a kitchen, spend the day with my wife and children and the risk of frostbite drops significantly. But still, it's just not the same.

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Cords

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