For the Record: How to Use Today’s Programming Options to Help You Watch the Big Game!

There are two main reasons why you might want a reliable TV programming service (generally referred to as DVR, or “digital video recording”) while you’re watching the big game. Perhaps you can’t actually catch the game on the day, or on the hour, and you want to have it recorded so you can host a somewhat belated tailgating party at your own home (or wherever you plan on hosting it; we’re not here to judge!) Alternatively, you might want to catch some regularly scheduled programming while you’re off watching a game in person—or at home.

It’s a sad fact that the rest of the world doesn’t slow down just because the game is on. If you’re stuck out of town, or are otherwise unavailable to catch the game as it airs, there was a time when you would need somebody to be standing at the ready by your VCR at home to make sure you didn’t miss a moment. And, of course, there was always the risk of someone spoiling the outcome of the game, before you had a chance to get to the recording yourself.

As much as we might wish for other parts of life to pause during major sporting events, our regular favorite shows keep on playing—as do those of other people in our families, who might be deprived of seeing them due to our game-day activities. If you’re out of town on business, watching the game in your hotel room can be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, there are some good options out there to help ensure that, while scheduling may be a little off, nobody should miss anything that they’ve been looking forward to—whether that’s the game itself, or their usual TV favorites.

Let’s start off with TiVo, one of the most well-known and well-established DVR services, having originally launched in 1999.


TiVo (link) is a digital video recording service which requires the addition of a small, unobtrusive box to your home electronics arsenal. The service provides access to an exhaustive on-screen guide of all upcoming broadcast television. Through the use of this guide, TiVo subscribers have access to a wide range of functions. For example, “season pass” will automatically record every episode of a favorite television show as it airs. They can also search for shows that they might like, based on current favorite television shows, actors, or interests, and record those as well. Finally, specific programs may be set to record in advance—including your favorite sporting events.

Down Sides to TiVo

TiVo has kept pace with the times remarkably well, adding additional functionality as its existing services became less relevant. It has remained competitive despite the rise of high-speed internet, and of services like Netflix and Hulu. Major issues with TiVo in the past have included privacy concerns, as the device’s function depends inherently on the monitoring, recording, and transmission of a household’s viewing habits.

Some shows, including sporting events, may be flagged by their broadcasters to have their recordings deleted after a certain length of time. This is especially true of pay-per-view and on-demand content that is recorded by users. Such material is also protected against distribution to other devices once it has been recorded.


Slingbox (link) isn’t quite the same as TiVo. Rather than being a direct DVR service in and of itself, although it does replicate some of the functionality, what slingbox enables its users to do is to encode TV programming for transmission over the internet. It allows its users to remotely view and control programming from their cable, satellite TV, DVR service, or other devices—such as Blue-Ray players, and even security cameras—from a PC, smartphone, tablet, or other internet-connected device, no matter where they are. By further connecting such devices to full-sized television screens at their current location, a person can watch TV using their own subscriptions no matter where they are.

This is a useful supplemental service for something like TiVo. Because TiVo’s subscription is attached to the box which enables it, you can’t simply sign in to your account from elsewhere and take advantage of it there. Slingbox allows you to get around that restriction, enabling unparalleled access to your favorite programming. There are obvious correlations between Slingbox and watching major sporting events; in fact, the developers of Slingbox are avid sports fans. They originally developed the service to allow them to watch their favorite games, which were broadcast on local television channels, while they were traveling out of state.

Down Sides to Slingbox

Slingbox does not allow additional access to television programming that you do not already have enabled. If you don’t have a cable package, or an existing DVR service, it won’t enable either of those for you; it is very much a supplemental subscription. From a certain point of view, Slingbox could be regarded as a device that turns the internet into a big antenna—for the devices you have around you wherever you happen to be at any given moment.

Every device you want to watch TV on through your Slingbox subscription requires its own individually installed app, which is particular to the type of platform in question (PC, android, etc. each have their own versions of the Slingbox app). As with TiVo, the nature of the Slingbox service has contributed to concerns about the transmission and use of personal information in the past.

Suggested Programming

A combination of TiVo, or another DVR service, and Slingbox, will allow you to attend tailgating events wherever they might be at, and you’ll never have to worry about missing your favorite shows! Likewise, if you’re stuck out of town, or are otherwise unable to access your television, you will be able to stream your favorite sporting events directly to your device of choice. You, and your family, will never have to be concerned with missing a favorite television show (or the big game) ever again!
For more information about watching television during the big game, read our guide on how to watch television while tailgating—and check out our articles on portable television sets and convenient TV mounting stands !