NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers demand refunds over protests

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- DirecTV is allowing some customers upset over National Anthem protests to get refunds for its popular NFL Sunday Ticket package of game broadcasts.

Both supporters and opponents of the player protests are canceling their subscriptions.

Once the football season starts, NFL Sunday Ticket usually doesn't allow refunds. But DirecTV began making exceptions in response to the protests.

"It bothered me a lot, people did not understand the reason," said Sharon Webster Tyson, who canceled her Sunday Ticket subscription. "It was for injustice. He was not disrespecting the flag. I decided to protest and not watch it."

Sharon and Forest Tyson have been Sunday Ticket subscribers for 23 years. Watching football on Sundays has become a way of life, with extended family gathering in fellowship at their Raytown home.

But all of that changed this season.

The Tysons decided to support the player protests by canceling their subscription.

They are upset that quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the National Anthem protests, has been deliberately blackballed by the league.

"It is about the economics of it, but it’s more about the principle of the thing for me, because I can’t see the NFL doing anything," said Forest Tyson. "If every black person in America canceled their subscription, you are only talking 12 percent, 13 percent tops. No, I don’t think that’s enough to push the NFL or anybody either way."

But more are upset by the protests, and also are demanding refunds. They say they don't want to see what they call "politics in sports."

Football draws the biggest television audience in American sports. The Wall Street Journal reports that Sunday Ticket earns the NFL $1.5-billion a year in licensing revenue and is a major source of income for media companies. Subscribers pay $280 for the season. NFL viewership dropped last year and continues to drop this year.

Prior to the kickoff of Monday Night Football in Kansas City next week, the Our Village Coalition (www.ourvillagecoalition.org) is hosting a social justice prayer protest at the Missouri Department of Transportation Welcome Center next to the sports complex. The group says player protests are not about the flag, national anthem, disrespect for law enforcement or the military.