Is a Super Bowl Party Legal? What to Know About Sharing the Game Broadcast (2024)

The Super Bowl party is a great American tradition: the big game, goofy commercials, and gobs of food. But is it legal to host a party if you’re watching the big game? We’ll break down the mystery.

First off, the NFL doesn’t have a police force that’s going to break down your door and throw handcuffs on you if you’re having a party. But the league can get testy, depending on the circ*mstances.

Super Bowl Parties at Churches

In 2007, the NFL threatened to sue churches that were hosting Super Bowl parties, but that’s because some of the churches were going above and beyond a typical party situation.

At the time, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the issue was that some churches were charging admission (to cover food), and showing the game using a projector. They also used the phrase “Super Bowl” in advertisem*nts for the event.

However, in the face of legislative pushback, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell composed a letter saying, “the league will not object to live showings – regardless of screen size – of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis.”

Super Bowl Parties at Bars and Other Venues

Sports bars may have to pay specific licenses to show NFL games - those are determined by the size of the venue, the number and size of screens, and how many speakers are in play. If you own a sports bar, you should consult an attorney to be sure you’re on the right side of the law.

Venues (including bars) can’t charge admission to watch the Super Bowl, and the law generally prevents them from showing the game on a TV bigger than 55 inches. The league has had to inform theaters, schools, museums, casinos, and hotels about these rules.

Again, these rules may be legally dodged if the venue pays the correct license to the league.

What the Law Says About Super Bowl Parties

When it comes to the law, there’s a lot of grey area. In 1976, the drafters of the “Transmit Clause” added to U.S. copyright law didn’t consider the possibility of a massive gathering to watch an event. The most-watched TV show that year was “Happy Days.” No one was charging admission for a huge party to watch the Fonz on a 25” Zenith. The law has not been revisited since then, so even if the NFL wanted to sue you for a party, it would have no legal precedent unless you were trying to turn a profit from their content.

Essentially, if you’re trying to make money from a Super Bowl party, the league might object. If they chose to press charges, they might have a case. Here's the specific copyright law if you want to do your own deep dive.

How to Watch the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs airs at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT) on Sunday, February 12. Rihanna is performing the halftime show.

You can watch the game on FOX. To watch the action, we recommend Sling TV or DIRECTV STREAM.

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    Sling Blue or Orange+Blue users in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco pay a $5 surcharge because they have access to their local ABC affiliate.

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    DIRECTV STREAM starts at $79.99 / month for their Entertainment package. You can upgrade to their Choice package, which begins at $108.99 / month, that includes your local RSN and HBO Max for three months. They also have an Ultimate ($119.99) for 130 channels and Premier ($164.99) for 140 channels. In addition to not having a contract, there are no extra RSN fees or Broadcast TV fee.

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Is a Super Bowl Party Legal? What to Know About Sharing the Game Broadcast (2024)
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