NFL Plus just launched for $4.99 per month — and it has a big problem

NFL logo on TV
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Today, the NFL announced the full details of NFL Plus, its new streaming service launching Monday, August 1. And the news has left me a bit ... deflated.

As a passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan living in the New York market — where I'm subjected to the eternal mediocrity of the Giants and the Jets — I was eager to hear how I could tune in to watch the Birds' NFL live streams without having to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket

What NFL Plus is ... isn't enough

To sum up: NFL Plus will let you stream live local and national primetime games on smartphones and tablets, as well as all pre-season games. In addition, subscribers will be able to listen to audio streams for every NFL game, and let you choose between the home, away, or national audio broadcast. 

The basic tier of the service will cost $4.99/month, or $39.99 per year. A premium tier ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year) will add on full-game replays, condensed-game replays (as far back as 2009), and coaches film.

The NFL is touting that you'll be able to watch every preseason game on NFL Plus, but preseason football is some of the worst sports you'll ever see.

First, I have no idea why anyone would pay the annual price for the basic NFL Plus tier. The regular season runs five months, from September to the first week in January, after which all games are nationally televised. If you pay monthly, you'd only be spending a total of $25. 

The NFL is touting that you'll be able to watch every preseason game on NFL Plus, but preseason football is some of the worst sports you'll ever see. Thanks to the latest collective bargaining agreement, there are only three preseason games, and you'll be lucky to see the starters in about three-quarters of one of the games, running the most vanilla plays and throwing to guys who will most likely end up on the practice squad.

NFL Plus' limitations are too limited

Then it's on to the regular season, where you'll only be able to watch local games...on your mobile device. This same smartphone-first approach doomed another streaming service last year. Remember Quibi? 

If you've cut the cord and want to watch local NFL games, the most economical way is to buy one of the best TV antennas, so you can view the game on your big-screen TV. You can buy the 1byone antenna for $25 on Amazon, which is less than you'll pay for a full season of NFL Plus — and you'll be able to use it to watch other sports, too.

The only way you can tune into out of market games is by listening to the audio feed on NFL Plus. Now, I like Merrill Reese and Mike Quick as much as anyone, but I'm not going to plunk down $40 for the privilege. 

I'm waiting to see what will happen with NFL Sunday Ticket, which is available not just on mobile devices, but the best streaming devices, too. Now that the contract with DirecTV has ended, the NFL is shopping for a suitor, with Apple, Amazon, and Disney all interested. I hope that an a la carte offering like the now-defunct GamePass will be released. That way, I'll be able to watch whichever Eagles game I want. 

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.

  • jgcorum
    NFL+ should be renamed NFL-What one got for free last year now costs $5/mo, and it's a real step backwards.

    First, there don't seem to be any stats available during games. You used to be able to quickly see both individual and team stats. Now they don't seem to be available until after the game, they are incomplete (no total yards, no time of possession, etc.), and there are no individual stats at all.

    Second, you used to be able to switch easily between watching a game and seeing its plays, stats, highlights, etc. easily (in portrait mode), and also between games. Now, almost every time I rotated my iPhone from portrait to landscape (after trying unsuccessfully to find stats or switch to another game), the game was cut off and the app displayed a large NFL+ logo, as if I hadn't paid! And it took a considerable time for the app to "re-recognize" me. Eventually I got the game back, not always the one I wanted to watch, and what a pain! Other times I was connected to one of the other games currently available.

    Whoever wrote this app should be forced to look at nothing but the NFL+ logo for several hours!!