The uniquely American phenomenon known as the Super Bowl will air on televisions across the United States this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PT or 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC. However, thanks to changing viewer habits in the digital era, this big event can also be seen either in person with tickets or on the Internet via live stream free without subscriptions.
For those looking to watch the game in person, it can be a pricey, once-in-a-lifetime venture. According to Chris Taylor of Reuters, the average resold ticket for this year's game has been going for $3,046.
"Ticket sales on StubHub.com have ranged from $937 to $11,500," Taylor wrote. "Those prices do not include ancillary costs - flights, hotels, food and drink, and memorabilia."
Seattle Seahawks fan and gastroenterologist Ron Yeh, 43, told Reuters that he and his friend found a Super Bowl package for two people from Costco that included tickets, lodging, shuttles and tailgate parties. They paid $8,000 for the special deal.
"I've been following the Seahawks ever since the fourth grade, when my family moved here from Taiwan," Yeh says. "But this is my first time going to the Super Bowl. It's going to be exciting."
Yeh added that he spent an extra $950 on a round-trip flight from Seattle. However, Reuters reported that other Super Bowl packages can get unbelievably high: a private jet charter company offered one that costs $35,000 for two.
"It's clearly not an event for a regular middle-class family," Victor Matheson, a professor and sports economist at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., said.
However, watching the Super Bowl in person does have its own tradeoffs, according to Reuters. Financial adviser Keith Singer of Florida discovered that hard reality when he went to the Super Bowl 10 years ago to watch the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It was really hard to see the game from where I was, and I missed all the pregame shows because I was at the stadium," Singer said. "I probably wouldn't go to another Super Bowl again. There's no better view than in front of your giant TV, with all the refreshments and food you could want right at your fingertips."
For those watching the big event at home, Jared Newman of TechHive reported that anyone can catch the game without using a pay-TV subscription. The easiest method, in his opinion, was accessing the game on a computer through NBC Sports Live Extra website.
"There's no need to sign in or jump through any other hoops, and you can tune in as early as noon on Feb. 1 to get your fill of pre-game coverage before the 6:30 p.m. Eastern kick-off," Newman wrote. "The live stream even will include the halftime show, which wasn't the case the last time NBC streamed the Super Bowl in 2012."
Access through a mobile device can be tricky. While iOS, Android and Windows 8 tablet users can download the NBC Sports Live Extra app and watch without a cable login this weekend, Newman reported that smartphone access can be more "complicated."
"The NFL Mobile app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone will have a live stream of the Super Bowl, but only for only Verizon Wireless customers," Newman wrote. "If you don't have a 'More Everything' shared data plan, you'll need to sign up for a $5 monthly fee to access the game."
For those who are not Verizon customers, Newman recommended setting up a mobile hotspot on your phone "to provide the Internet connection" for remote access with a tablet or desktop.
As for those who watch the Super Bowl on a big-screen TV, Newman suggested using an old-school antenna in lieu of a cable subscription.
"You can buy one for under $20 from your nearest big box or electronics store, and you'll get smooth, high-quality video that rivals what you get from cable," Newman wrote. "TVFool.com can help you figure out if you're in broadcast range."
If broadcast coverage is not available, Newman reported that it is possible to access the big game through the NBC Sports Live Extra app or website through various streaming setups. The manufacturers of Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire TV each have instructions on how to set up the respective streaming devices.
"With all of these possibilities, you should find some way to watch the big game even without a cable subscription," Newman wrote. "If not, head to your nearest bar."
Whatever method is used to access the Super Bowl and its festivities, the kickoff starts Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PT or 6:30 p.m. ET at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.