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.
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.