NFL season is upon us, and that means spending Sundays in front of the television screaming at the screen, hoping that your favorite players — or those on your fantasy football team — score big in the week's game.
There are tons of options for keeping up with the NFL online: You can watch games live with NFL Sunday Ticket or track scores and stats with a variety of apps. But if you want more than that, including the ability to get your current and historic football fix, NFL Game Pass might be the best solution.
With NFL Game Pass, it's possible to watch out-of-market games, track players you care about and enjoy games from the past. Better yet, the service gives you access to NFL-related shows for inside knowledge of what's happening in and around the huddle.
Needless to say, NFL's Game Pass has long been a popular service for football fans. This guide will walk you through what it is, how it works and whether it's a good value.
What is NFL Game Pass?
NFL Game Pass is a video- and audio-streaming service that allows you to watch a mix of NFL programming from the device of your choosing.
Unlike NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives you easy access to any game you want, whenever you want, NFL Game Pass focuses on out-of-market games that are available to you when the games are over.
Additionally, NFL Game Pass is designed to immerse you into broader NFL programming, with the option of watching shows like the wildly popular HBO series Hard Knocks, which follows a team as it works through the preseason. And if you want to track a single player to see what he's been up to, NFL Game Pass is the place to do it.
How much does NFL Game Pass cost?
NFL Game Pass is available as an annual subscription for $100 per year if you decide to pay in one installment. If you choose to pay in four monthly installments, you'll pay $30 per installment.
So, while it's not the cheapest service out there, it's certainly a good value if you're a hard-core NFL fan. And if you're not quite sure whether you'd like it, you can access the service for seven days in its free trial offer.
Where can I access NFL Game Pass?
NFL Game Pass is available on most desktop, mobile, set-top box and game-console platforms.
Here's a rundown of all the places you can access and stream content from NFL Game Pass in the U.S.:
- An iPhone running iOS 7 or later
- An iPad running iOS 7 or later
- Any Android smartphone running Android 4.1or later
- Any Android tablet running Android 4.1 or later
- Apple TV
- Xbox One
- Android TV
- Fire TV
What games can I watch on Game Pass?
This is where things get a little complicated. NFL Game Pass programming is, in many ways, governed by the period in the season.
Credit: Action Sports Photography/ShutterstockFor instance, if you want to watch regular and postseason games from Game Pass live, you're out of luck. You have access only to game replays of all regular and postseason games, which you can watch on demand after they're broadcast.
Sunday games are made available on the service by 8 p.m. Sunday night. Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night and Saturday games will be available on the service "soon" after they're over.
Game Pass does let you watch preseason games live, but they have to be outside of your market, due to blackout restrictions. All preseason games are also available as replays.
So, if you're hoping to sign up for a service that gives you easy access to live games throughout the season, Game Pass isn't for you.
What do you mean by blackout restrictions?
Let's say it's the preseason and you want to stream some games live. You turn on NFL Game Pass and try to watch your local team, only to find that the game's not available in your area.
That's the effect of blackout restrictions. Generally speaking, blackout restrictions apply only to the teams in your area. Their broadcasts are "blacked out," because the teams and league hope that instead of watching the game on a streaming service, you'll instead tune in to your local TV station.
Can I watch full games on Game Pass?
Once the game is over and it's made available — absolutely, yes, you can. In fact, there's an option in the app called Full Replay" that will allow you to watch the entire broadcast, play by play, at your leisure.
And if you want to get up and leave and come back to the broadcast in the future, that's fine, too.
In addition to giving you access to the full game, NFL Game Pass offers the Condensed replay option. If you choose that one, you'll be able to get all the major highlights from the game and sidestep all the other stuff you may not care about.
According to the NFL, Game Pass Condensed games last about 45 minutes.
What is the Coaches Film feature?
In a bid to help you feel more like a real coach or someone in the game, NFL Game Pass offers a feature called Coaches Film.
With Coaches Film turned on, you can watch the game in a view that shows all 22 players on field at the same time. You can also use the Endzone angle.
Either way, the Coaches Film option aims at helping you see the strategy behind football and track players and how they're lining up before the snap.
Can I track individual players on Game Pass?
Absolutely. In fact, you can use a handy feature baked into Game Pass called Player Search to find a player and see how he played throughout the season. Better yet, NFL Game Pass includes a variety of filters so you can see specific downs, red-zone plays and other in-game situations.
So, if you want to see every red-zone play in the NFC between weeks eight and 12, for example, you can do it with Game Pass. And if you want to see how a specific player performed in those scenarios, you can do that, as well.
I love local sports radio. Can I listen in?
NFL used to operate a service called NFL Audio Pass that let you stream local radio broadcasts for each game. Since 2015, however, Audio Pass has been integrated into Game Pass.
So, when you want to check out a game, you have the option in Game Pass of tapping into your favorite team's local radio feed to hear how the local broadcasters call the plays.
What if I want to watch older NFL games?
Arguably, one of the most exciting features in NFL Game Pass is that it gives you access to archival footage.
In addition to watching this year's games, you can access Game Pass and select the option to watch preseason, regular season and playoff games from years past. However, this feature is available only for games dating back to the 2011 season, so if you want to watch games from 2010 or earlier, you're out of luck.
That said, the Game Pass archive also features access to more than 20 classic Super Bowl archives, so you can relive some of the better Super Bowl games of the past.
What about other NFL shows?
NFL Game Pass gives you access to popular premium NFL Network and NFL Films content. However, the content is available only on desktops, so you won't be able to watch this programming on your smartphone.
Still, if you want to watch NFL programming beyond just games, here's a look at what's available:
- A Football Life
- America's Game
- Hard Knocks
- Sound FX
- Super Bowl Archives
- The Timeline