Why I Both Love and Hate the NFL Red Zone Channel

The 2009 NFL season has been different for me for one big reason: the NFL Red Zone Channel. This channel, which was made available to non-satellite viewers this season, bounces around from game to game, showing the most exciting action, along with highlights of every scoring play in the league. Most importantly, it does this without commercials.

Now, this isn’t a perfect solution to Sunday Ticket still being a DirecTV exclusive, but it’s pretty damn awesome (plus its a hell of a lot cheaper than Sunday Ticket -- AT&T U-Verse put it on an HD Tier that costs $5 a month). All season, when I’ve been home on Sundays, I’ve been watching this channel rather than CBS or FOX. Even if there’s a specific game I want to follow, I can trust that Red Zone channel will be on top of it. More importantly, I don’t have to be stuck with my so-called local games -- and this is huge, since I hate the Giants, Jets and Patriots.

It’s amazing how much this has affected my football viewing. Instead of casually watching a local game on TV, while tracking other games online, I simply let NFL Red Zone do the work. Today it was incredible, as there were multiple instances when the Red Zone channel went to a two-box format and got simultaneous scoring plays. Even a game like Browns-Lions, which looked so crappy on paper, got run on Red Zone when it got super exciting.

That said, today is when I also discovered a serious problem with the Red Zone channel -- it has made me completely non-productive on Sundays. It used to be that I could use commercial breaks and halftime as markers to get things done, whether it was taking out the trash, doing laundry, getting some writing done, making phone calls, whatever. Now, because I watch football non-stop with no commercials and no halftime breaks, it’s really hard to do anything but watch football.

Yes, usually the 4:15 games all hit halftime around the same time, resulting in a brief break, but by that point, I’m in a football-induced coma, and I’ve got zero incentive to do anything (so, basically, I’m the football-watching equivalent of JaMarcus Russell).

Of course, the many, many pros of NFL Red Zone network (did I mention they show pieces of EVERY Sunday game -- even the dismal Redskins-Cowboys debacle today?) outweigh the one con. Plus, once the regular season is over, I should be able to go back to my productive weekend self. Maybe.