Diary of a foreign NFL fan: Getting one’s NFL fix online

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I have recently gotten hooked on America’s favorite game, pro football. Being an NFL fan outside the US has been a solitary experience, with efforts to convert others met with the same tepid response along the lines of “I don’t get it” and “it looks complicated”. Sadly, in my corner of the globe where football is soccer, I’m the only one within a 1000+++ mile radius who knows what the NFL is. It doesn’t help that it’s not on TV here, not even on cable. The only way to watch anything NFL-related is online, and fortunately there are many ways to do just that:

Part One – Paid sources

1. NFL Game Pass

They have several subscription plans available. Here’s what their basic one entails:

The Season subscription to NFL Game Pass includes: access to live 2011 Preseason and Regular season games, Condensed Games, Coaches Film, DVR controls, Big Play Markers, keyboard shortcuts, live scores and stats, chat, archived 2011 games, high-definition video, NFL Network programming, NFL RedZone, archived NFL Network shows, select classic Super Bowl games, home and away audio for select games when available, picture-in-picture and multi-view game modes, mobile and tablet access, and access to 2009 and 2010 season archives.

Lots of features, but a bit steep. And why only select Super Bowls and games from the previous two years in the archives? Don’t Netflix and Hulu Plus offer a gazillion movies and all seasons of TV shows for only $7.99/month? Homegrown fans in the US may be inured to forking out huge dough to get their NFL fix on TV, but most of the rest of us are not. C’mon NFL, steep pricing is not the way to expand your offshore popularity.

One solution to offset the cost would be to split it with other overseas fans, like what the Aussie folks over here did.

Update 3/21: I caved in and signed up for a month (their offseason rate is $24.99/month). I’ve watched two games so far, and I’m pretty satisfied:

It can also be accessed on the iPad through the NFL Game Pass app.

2. NFL Network Online

24/7 streaming access to the NFL Network, the NFL’s own channel devoted to, well, itself. Click here for schedule and programming.

Game Pass already includes access to the NFL Network, but as a standalone it’s reasonable enough at $4.99/month.

3. iTunes

iTunes has tons of NFL content available for as low as $1.99 each. The caveat: the downloads are available only at the US store, which asks for a US credit card. The good news: there is a way to circumvent this by using a random US address and an iTunes Gift Card. I just rented the newly released Super Bowl XLVI Champions: 2011 New York Giants DVD this way with no problems at all. I bought the Gift Card from a reputable seller on eBay, who sent me the code through email.

Tip: use an address from a state with no internet sales tax, like Delaware, so you don’t incur additional charges. Click here for a Delaware address (thanks, Google Maps).

Drawbacks: DRM, and no content older than 2006. NFL Films has recently made their entire catalog available through special order on DVD; why not on iTunes? C’mon NFL, it’s 2012; the DVD is practically obsolete.

Part Two – Free sources

1. NFL.com

Video section is here. Kudos to the NFL for making lots of content from NFL Network and NFL Films available for free on their website, and accessible anywhere in the world to boot. There is nothing more annoying than visiting a US website and encountering the message: “Sorry, this video can only be watched from within the United States.”

2. Hulu

I lurve NFL Films, and Hulu just happens to have hundreds of full episodes of its programs, dating as far back as the 1950s. Yes, this is exactly one of those websites that flash the aforementioned US-only message, but again there is a workaround: you can use an anonymous US proxy or Hotspot Shield to get a US IP address.

Part Three – Not-so-legit sources

Sorry, had to delete this part; AdSense might kick me out. Tip: Google is your friend.

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