When the ‘85 Bears took the field against the Pats in Super Bowl XX my brother set the VCR to record the game. After a 46-10 Chicago win, we turned to the replay booth. Son of a….4 hours of local community channel (hey, at least the clock wasn’t blinking 12:00). Well, that was 80s technology. Gore was still working on the Internet, satellites were as big as houses, and NFL Sunday Ticket was still a bar patron’s nocturnal emission. Basically, if you wanted to watch a game you had to pray for network coverage sans a blackout.
In the 25 years since, the tech world (with the exception of the Republic of the NFL) has flourished. “What do you mean, except the NFL?” For starters, the NFL has yet to make it easy (keyword) for fans to watch their favorite teams play on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. Instead, fans must improvise solutions that are in no way condoned by the you know who.
Existing options (both condoned and not condoned):
- NFL Field Pass. For $10/mos I can subscribe to the radio broadcast for every game. Can I listen to it in the car? No. Can I access Field Pass on the iPhone? No. Can I…? No, you need a clunky ol’ laptop with an Internet connection. Even then, Field Pass is totally unimpressive. It’s more or less a radio station aggregate with an animated play-by-play interface. #NFaiL
- NFL Sunday Ticket. Direct TV offers every NFL game (played on Sunday) for $315. This rocks…if you have Direct TV. But, I have cable, and I’m not switching to satellite b/c sat Internet blows. “Why don’t you get…” No, I’m not going to get both Direct TV and cable Internet. #partialNFaiL
- NFL RedZone TV. A channel that serves up the highlights of every NFL game as they happen. Huh? Basically, when a team gets in the red zone, viewers are taken to that game. Available on Comcast and DISH network (and soon on Verizon phones) the service still doesn’t stream all games. #NFaiL
- NFL Game Rewind. Here’s an interesting one. For $50, I can watch every NFL game AFTER the final whistle blows. Um, no. Seriously, have you ever tried to record a game and then watch it? 9 times out of 10 someone tells you the final score before you get home (case in point, Harrison Ford in Airforce One). #NFaiL
- NFL Mobile Live (Sprint). Get live audio for every regular season game, Live NFL Network games, and 24/7 NFL Network access. The service is Sprint-only and not exactly bursting with fruit flavor. #NFaiL
- Local Bar. Most bars have NFL Sunday Ticket. Most bars are also loud, the patrons are rude, and a beer costs $8. Besides, I don’t frequent bars. #NFaiL
- Internet Radio. It’s just like Field Pass only you have to find your team’s radio broadcast yourself and it doesn’t cost anything. #TD
- Internet TV. There are plenty of dedicated fans that stream their local games to services such as Justin.tv or ustream. While the NFL stamps this option with a colon and a shift 9, it’s the best way to get the games that would otherwise be out of reach. #TD
The NFL is all about the Benjamins…not the fans. For serious NFL, take a lesson from the MLB.tv playbook. For $99.95/year I can watch 2,430 regular season games (live and in HD) plus 150 spring training games (no blackouts). And, MLB has an iPhone app that let’s me stream LIVE games to my phone! Are you effin’ kidding me? The NFL only needs to stream 64 pre-season games, 256 regular season games, and 64+/- post season games. Yeah, I whopping 384 games. But, noooo.
Is it the number of streaming videos? On average, an MLB game is 3 hours long (2.5 if it’s moving quickly). An NFL game is also 3 hours (four 15min quarters). MLB.tv streams 7,740 hours of live game coverage and the NFL does not stream 1,152. Yeah, don’t think it’s streaming.
Is it money? In 2009, MLB earned $6.2 billion ($1 million of which came from the MLB At Bat iPhone app) . The NFL took home $6 billion in league revenue. And, for poops and giggles, the NBA earned $3.2 billion in 2009 yet they stream all of their games via NBA League Pass Mobile. So, no, it’s not money.
Is it the networks? CBS and FOX…OK fine, and ESPN/ABC don’t want to lose out on revenue. I get that. But, if games are streamed, the announcers and the commercials stream with ‘em. Who cares if I watch TV on a 3″, 15″, or 50″ screen? I’m going to see the same thing. Sorry NFaiL, Not going to fault the networks.
Hmm, if it’s not the number of games, or the number of streaming videos, or the lack of revenue, or the networks…WTF is it? Oh, that’s right, the only reason why I cannot stream live games to my computer or my iPhone is due to the NFL’s huge effin’ ego. Screw you NFL.
Get into the game
Until the NFL pulls their head out, let me help you stay connected:
- Search for “[your team] radio” using your favorite engine.
- Click on the link to the station
- Click on the game coverage link.
- Bookmark the page.
(mobile users 5-7 are for you)
- Download a radio app (iheartradio, AOL radio, or Pocket Tunes)
- Enter your team’s radio station (based on the results from step 1).
- Save it as a favorite.
*This will work until the NFL throws a flag and forces WBBM780 to stop play-by-play coverage of Da Bears.
Internet Video Streaming**
- Visit any of the following sites:
- Locate the game you want to watch and click play.
The first two links require a bit of clicking to find your desired game. The last two are a bit easier. From the four listed, you will find the desired game (btw, this goes for all sporting events, not just the NFL). While I cannot stream games (for now) to my iPhone using these options, I can watch them which is a walk on the moon for NFL fankind.
**This too will work until the NFL claims they own the Internet.
So, NFL, get your shiitake together and start offering streaming services like the other major leagues. None of this piecemeal garbage. It’s the 21st century. The technology exists if you would just get over yourself. I’m not asking for the impossible. Just make all games totally accessible to the fans. Until you change your ways, I’m throwing the challenge flag. #NFaiL
If you use any of the above sites and want to share your experience, or if you have suggestions for other non-spam sites share your comments below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org