Late last month, Verizon announced an NFL Sunday Ticket deal that sounds great on the surface.
By purchasing an eligible phone on Verizon’s Unlimited Plus data plan, you can get a free year of NFL Sunday Ticket. The deal is available to new and existing customers, and it saves $450 on out-of-market NFL streaming (or $350 if you were planning to bundle it with YouTube TV for local and nationally televised coverage).
But of course, there’s a catch: To get Verizon’s best Sunday Ticket deals, you must sign up for its most expensive data plan, and getting a smartphone deal with it requires at least a three-year commitment. All this could allow Verizon to claw back your Sunday Ticket savings over time.
Verizon’s Sunday Ticket deal: The priciest phones on the priciest plans
Verizon wouldn’t provide a full list phones that are eligible for the Sunday Ticket deal, but I’ve assembled a list by looking through the carrier’s product pages:
- Apple: iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max
- Samsung: Galaxy S23, S23+, S23 Ultra, Z Flip5, and Z Fold5
- Google: Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel Fold
- Motorola: Edge+ 5G UW
These represent Verizon’s newest and most-expensive phones. Older models such as the iPhone 12 and Pixel 6 aren’t eligible.
In addition, the Sunday Ticket deal is only available with Verizon’s “Unlimited Plus” plan. This is Verizon’s most expensive plan, ranging from $80 per month for one line to $45 per month, per line, for four or more lines. It includes unlimited full-speed data and 30GB of monthly mobile hotspot use, and customers must pay for extra perks such as discounts on streaming services.
By comparison, Verizon’s Unlimited Welcome plan costs $65 per month for one line, saving $15 per month. Some legacy Verizon plans are cheaper than Unlimited Plus as well, and include free perks that now cost extra, such as the Disney Bundle or an Apple One subscription.
None of those other plans are eligible for free Sunday Ticket, so you’ll need to calculate whether a year of pro football streaming is worth giving up your current plan.
Verizon’s phone subsidies create complications
Unfortunately, the math isn’t as straightforward once you factor in phone subsidies.
Verizon offers deep discounts on most of the above phones for new customers, and for existing customers if they add a new line. For instance, you can get up to $800 off the iPhone 14 or $1,000 off Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip5 by trading in an older phone. Customers can also upgrade to a new phone at a discount, albeit at lower trade-in values in some cases.
Verizon confirmed to me that its new phone deals will stack with the Sunday Ticket offer, so you don’t have to choose between a subsidized phone and free football.
But for new subscribers, these phone deals also require an Unlimited Plus plan—the same that’s required for Sunday Ticket—and like all Verizon subsidies they come with a three-year commitment. The subsidy is paid off through 36 monthly bill credits, and if you leave early, you’ll owe the unpaid balance.
(Apple’s iPhone release plans complicate matters even further. The iPhone 15 line is likely to arrive in September or October, so jumping on a new iPhone with Verizon right now would preclude you from getting Apple’s latest hardware.)
Is Verizon’s Sunday Ticket offer worth taking?
Keep in mind that there are other ways you can save on Sunday Ticket:
So is Verizon’s freebie worth it? Sure, if you want the carrier’s Unlimited Plus plan and don’t intend to switch carriers for a few years.
Otherwise, pairing a more modest Sunday Ticket discount with a cheaper Verizon plan—or better yet, a cheaper wireless carrier—could save you far more over time.
Unfortunately, YouTube won’t give you a refund if you’ve pre-ordered Sunday Ticket already and would rather take Verizon’s offer. Verizon, meanwhile, says all Sunday Ticket sales are final on its end, and its three-year contracts for new phones make quitting a costly move anyway.
As always, you’ll have to choose your Sunday Ticket plan wisely, because once you do, you’re stuck with it.
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