Ah, the bittersweet month of August.
For some, August means trying to keep cool in the heat and humidity. Much of Mediterranean Europe has shut down for the month. Even the New Orleans Saints have left the harsh environment of Airline Hwy in favor of the welcoming surroundings and relatively pleasant weather in the mountains of West Virginia.
For many of us, though, August means things are heating up in a good way. August means taking stock of the fan gear: the bags and the flags, the eye black and the paint, the black-and-gold jackets, scarves and gloves which would otherwise seem unthinkable right now. August means jersey rituals: laying them out, wondering which games will get the black or the white jerseys, checking them for stains and odors, and considering whether or not to buy another jersey this year. And if so, whose jersey should we buy next? August means making plans for where to watch those big games, and which parties get the gumbo, the crawfish, or the oyster grill-outs.
August means football is finally here! NFL preseason football, at least. The games might not mean the same in August as they do in September, but that’s not going to stop us from watching our boys take the field for the first time since January.
A lack of viewing options might stop some of us from seeing the game, however.
For Saints fans lucky enough to reside in the New Orleans area, viewing options are numerous … from the living room to the Superdome, or the countless bars in between. But what about those fans who don't currently live anywhere near New Orleans?
The local sports bar has us covered, right? Wrong.
Many of us have already made plans to hit our favorite watering holes, and to make sure that nobody else is trying to bogart our screens this football season. And when the seats are claimed and the drinks are ordered, we expect we'll be treated to a few hours of camaraderie and football.
But the Saints game won't be on. No, probably not even at your favorite sports bar. How can that be? Well, it's preseason. And the Sunday Ticket package with which bars lure thousands of football fans for four months out of the year doesn't cover preseason games.
But your favorite place had last week's preseason game on? That's because, luckily for Saints fans, the only game televised live on Friday, August 8th, was the contest between the New Orleans Saints and the St. Louis Rams. And just about any bar with a football package has the NFL Network, so we got lucky this past week.
Unfortunately, many fans across the nation are bound to be disappointed this coming Friday evening… when they arrive at their regular football hangouts to watch the Saints play the Titans at 8pm (Eastern), only to find every television showing the Eagles @ Patriots game which starts a half hour earlier. And many a bartender will be confused and distraught by not being able to find the game their favorite Saints fans are asking about.
After all, they paid for "the football package!"
So if you end up at your favorite sports bar Friday evening in hopes of watching the Saints play, don’t give your bartender grief for not looking hard enough. Chances are good, if you aren’t near the heart of the team’s market, that your local establishment won’t be able to get thepreseason game. Not live, at least.
Even if they told you they could.
So how can you watch the preseason games?
For some of us, there is hope. Cox Communications, the third largest cable television provider in the United States, has its own sports network:
Cox Sports Television, the exclusive regional sports network home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints and national college power LSU Tigers.
So – if you live in one of these areas – find your nearest friend or watering hole with a subscription to Cox Cable, and see if they have CST showing the Saints preseason games. Particularly since it's not exactly the most popular sports channel on television, there’s a chance anyone with a Cox cable subscription already has the channel, even if they don't realize it. One Cox subscriber was absolutely certain he didn’t have it, until doing a search for "Saints" on tvguide.com and turning to the listed channel to be sure. After a bit of looking around, he discovered that he somehow had CST, ESPN, and even NFL Network without realizing it.
That said... after multiple phone conversations with Cox representatives, I have discovered their information is about as reliable as some of Cox's scheduling information on their own website, which has conflicted with both tvguide.com and some of the programming Cox was actually broadcasting at the time.
I have personally talked to a few bars which had guaranteed my little group that we would be able to watch the Saints game at their establishments on Friday evening. Yet after I asked them a couple of questions about their television providers and pushed them to be absolutely sure of their claims, I found them surprised to be proven incorrect. So why are bars confident that they can get whatever game we want, yet unable to actually do so? Mainly because they subscribe to the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV; and their employees are accustomed to being able to pull up whichever NFL games the patrons want to see.
And either the bartenders don't realize it, or they just want you to come in anyway, but the televised package doesn't give access to all of the preseason games. The fact is, if you aren't close enough to New Orleans to get the game, the only games available on television this Friday will be the Eagles @ Patriots, and the Chargers @ Seahawks as the late game.
So while I plan to watch the Saints this Friday night, about a thousand miles away from the Superdome, that plan is going to involve a subscription for live streaming through a laptop to the television set.
Outside of the CSN viewing area, live streaming is your option.
There is a legal streaming option available, for less than five bucks per game.
The preseason package offered by the NFL offers preseason games via live streaming on tablets and computers, which can often be connected to a larger screen. The embedded link to subscribe includes an offer for 10% off, for those who decide to grab the preseason action. A few of us tried it out last year, and it worked rather well... letting us play, pause, and even rewind any preseason game we wanted to see, whenever we wanted, Saints games or otherwise. If we started late, we were able to skip ahead through the commercials. And any blacked out games were available the next day, as was the option to watch a condensed version of any game, letting us watch entire games in roughly 30-40 minutes, without any commercials, timeouts, or other delays between plays. This year, they claim to have added the option to watch every preseason game from 2010 to present, also in HD.
Not everyone is interested in streaming games, however, live or otherwise. For those fans, the only option may be watching it on the NFL Network well after the game has finished. If you don't live in an area where watching the Saints preseason games live on television is a possibility, you have two options to watch the games for preseason Week 2 and Week 4. The Week 3 game vs the Colts will be showing nationally on CBS. For the other games, however, you may have to stick with live streaming, or catch the games when they are rebroadcast on the NFL Network.
The dates and times each preseason game will be available are listed below:
[All times listed are for the Eastern time zone]
Friday August 8th at 8pm – Saints @ St. Louis Rams
Live Broadcast: Fox 9 (NOLA), Cox Sports Television, Nationwide on NFL Network
NFL Network Rebroadcast: Tuesday (Monday Night) at 3am, Tuesday at 1pm
Friday August 15th at 8pm – Tennessee Titans @ Saints
Live Broadcast: Fox 9 (NOLA), Cox Sports Television, NFL Preseason Live
NFL Network Rebroadcast: Saturday (Friday Night) at 1am, Saturday at 6:30am
Saturday, August 23rd at 8pm – Saints @ Indianapolis Colts
Live Broadcast: Nationwide on CBS
NFL Network Rebroadcast: Tuesday at 4pm, Thursday (Wednesday Night) at 3am
Thursday, August 28th at 8pm – Ravens @ Saints
Live Broadcast: Fox 9 (NOLA), Cox Sports Television, NFL Preseason Live
NFL Network Rebroadcast: information not yet available