DirecTV customer service representatives said Tuesday they are allowing some customers to cancel their subscriptions and obtain refunds for the Sunday Ticket package of NFL games if they cite players' protests of the national anthem as their reason for cancellation.
Sunday Ticket's policy does not allow refunds after the season has started, but the representatives said they are making an exception this season due to players kneeling, sitting, or linking arms before games for the anthem, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Football draws the biggest television audience out of all American sports and is a huge, sometime vital, income source for major media companies. Sunday Ticket, which costs around $280 per season per customer, brings in $1.5 billion a year in licensing revenue for DirecTV, the Journal noted.
Any cancellations risk further damage to the NFL as the league experiences comparatively low television ratings this season.
DirecTV representatives contacted by the Journal had varied understandings of the refund policy. One said that only those who are concerned about the controversy surrounding the national anthem are offered a refund under certain plans. Another representative said that full refunds are available to all customers who complain about the anthem protests.
One said that those who complain could only get prorated refunds for the remainder of the season, and another representative said that company policy had not changed and there would be no refunds granted.
However, some subscribers were able to prove to the Journal that DirecTV was offering refunds.
Longtime Sunday Ticket subscriber Marc Hoffman said that he was able to cancel his subscription and receive a refund on Monday.
"I honestly didn't think I'd get a refund," Hoffman said. "I knew their guidelines, I just wanted to make a point."
Another Sunday Ticket holder, Chris Baker, also canceled his subscription for political reasons.
"I explained to them I was tired of politics in sports, and it's not how I want to spend my Sunday, watching all that transpire," Baker said he told a DirecTV representative. He said the representative "insinuated there was a high volume of calls calling in to cancel."
NFL-owned channel RedZone, which provides a split screen experience where scoring from every game on Sunday is displayed, is also experiencing cancellations due to the national anthem protests.