NFL Game Pass Review | PCMag

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Navigating the complex broadcast schedule of NFL games is no easy task. Even video streaming services that offer all the channels with NFL broadcast rights cover in-market and prime-time games only. In other words, if you don’t live in your favorite team’s local market, you can’t watch most of that team’s games. NFL Game Pass, on the other hand, enables you to listen to live audio broadcasts of every NFL game and watch replays of them after they air, regardless of your location. The service now supports up to 1080p/60fps streams but has lost some of its innovative playback features since the last time we reviewed it. Some people might not be able to get over the fact that the games are not live, but for everyone else, NFL Game Pass is the simplest way to watch every game this season.

What Can You Watch With NFL Game Pass?

The primary appeal of NFL Game Pass is that it lets you watch replays of every NFL game broadcast this season after it airs, along with any game from as early as the 2009 season. None of these replays is subject to regional broadcast restrictions or blackouts, which means that anyone in the country can watch any game. To put that into perspective, that’s up to 16 regular-season games each week that you can replay. At best, on a live TV streaming service, you would get six or seven games depending on the schedule. Note that the full game replays include some brief, but skippable, ad snippets.

In addition, NFL Game Pass offers condensed game replays that typically cut the runtime to under an hour and don't include any ads. A Coaches Film mode will show each play in its entirety with deliberate separation, presumably to make them easier to study and digest. This mode wasn't available at the time of my testing, but a support page noted that this feature was "currently in development." When I tested NFL Game Pass at this time last year, that mode was available.

The service includes some live content, too. For example, you can listen to full audio streams of each game as it airs. NFL Game Pass also lets you watch live, out-of-market preseason games.

Apart from the service's game coverage, it also offers on-demand NFL-centric news shows produced by the NFL Network, such as Good Morning Football, NFL Total Access, and NFL Fantasy Live. These are not live shows; rather, the recording of the previous day's episode gets posted every day. On-demand episodes of America’s Game, Hard Knocks, NFL 360, and NFL Film Session are all available to stream, too.

Don’t confuse NFL Game Pass with NFL RedZone. The latter is a cable channel that caters to fantasy football fans and shows scoring plays in a continuous block on Sunday afternoons. NFL RedZone is not a part of the NFL Game Pass package, but you can subscribe to the RedZone Mobile add-on alongside Game Pass. The channel is additionally available as an add-on for other NFL streaming services, as I explain below.

If you happen to live in the same broadcast market as your favorite team or otherwise don’t care what game is playing, live streaming services may be a better option. FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV are currently the best choices for NFL coverage because they include all the major broadcast networks (for watching Sunday afternoon and Sunday Night Football games), NFL Network (Thursday Night Football games), and ESPN (Monday Night Football games). All three services offer the NFL RedZone channel via an add-on package. Unfortunately, if you don't live in your favorite team's home market, the NFL makes it difficult for you to watch your favorite team's games live.

If you are willing to seriously cut down on the amount of football you watch, consider these primarily on-demand services: Paramount+, Peacock, and Prime Video. A subscription to Paramount+ Premium includes a live stream of your local CBS network, which means you can watch in-market Sunday afternoon NFL games on that channel. Paid Peacock subscribers can stream Sunday Night Football games. Live broadcasts of Thursday Night Football games are part of Prime Video's lineup. All three of those services include other live sports, too. Check out our roundup of the best sports streaming services for all the details.

How Much Does NFL Game Pass Cost?

NFL Game Pass costs $99.99 and provides coverage for the entirety of the current NFL season. The current subscription expires on July 31, 2022, for example, so it’s in your best interest to subscribe as early in the season as possible. NFL Game Pass offers a free, seven-day trial, but you need to provide a payment option to get access. The NFL RedZone Mobile add-on costs $34.99 per season.

If you can make peace with watching replays instead of live games, NFL Game Pass is the cheapest way to watch all the games this season. Live TV streaming services cost much more per month and, as mentioned, guarantee you full coverage of prime-time and in-market games only at most.

Sling TV’s Orange and Blue plans each cost $35 per month, but you can get them together for $50 per month. FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV all start at $64.99 per month. DirecTV Stream charges $69.99 per month for its base tier. Paramount+ Premium and Prime Video are only $9.99 and $8.99 per month, respectively. Peacock Premium undercuts them all at $4.99 per month. Locast used to be a low-cost option for watching local channels, including CBS, FOX, and NBC, but that service has since shut down.

You can watch NFL Game Pass via a web browser or mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku), and the latest generation of game consoles (PlayStation and Xbox). Speaking of mobile apps, NFL Game Pass is just one section of the NFL app, which as I explain later, allows you to watch live prime-time and in-market games for free.

NFL Game Pass is available internationally, though there are several different versions. The subject of this review is the one that is available to users in the US. Check out NFL Game Pass’s help page for more information about other markets. For live NFL games in Canada, Dazn is another option. Notably, some international versions of NFL Game Pass include live broadcasts of games, so it remains disappointing that the NFL doesn't offer the same access to fans in the US.

NFL Game Pass on the Web

NFL Game Pass’s web interface isn’t impressive; it looks more like a plain old website than a video streaming service. In testing, I noticed that some pages lagged a bit or took longer than expected to load. The experience feels less premium and cohesive than when I tested it last year.

You navigate the experience via a top-level menu with the following sections: Home, Game Replays, Listen Live, NFL Shows, and Learn More. In the right-hand corner of the page, you can change whether the service shows scores for games (it’s turned off by default, so you don’t see game results before you get a chance to watch the replays). A profile icon lives in the upper-right corner of the interface. Here, you can make changes to your subscription or cancel it. Previously, you could manage a watch list, follow your favorite teams, and view your watch history in this section, so this seems like a step backward.

The Home section shows an overview of the on-demand content available for streaming. The Game Replays section defaults to game replays for the current NFL season with horizontally scrolling categories for each week. You can also browse back as far as the 2009 season from a drop-down menu. A secondary drop-down menu lets you filter by each team.

You can no longer hover over the game cards to jump right into one of the playback modes. Instead, you need to click on the thumbnails to go to that game's landing page and then select one of the replay options. On this page, you can view play-by-play summaries, stats, highlights, and insights from the game. The last time I tested the service, audio-only replays were available for each game too, but that option was not present for any of the games I checked.

The Listen Live section lists the current week's games and lets you listen to live audio when those games air. Typically, you get a choice between the home broadcast, away broadcast, SAP broadcast, and Westwood One broadcast. When I tested this feature for the Sunday Night Football game between the Ravens and the Chiefs, I expected to find an audio-only version of the NBC broadcast, but that was not available.

The NFL Shows category simply displays all the on-demand shows on the service. Currently, there are a total of 15 shows in this section; oddly, the higher-profile news shows available on NFL Game Pass (Good Morning Football, NFL Total Access, and NFL Fantasy Live) don't appear in this section and are accessible only from the Home tab.

NFL Game Pass no longer has a Search section on the web. When I tested the service last year, I found this tool extremely useful. It let you, for example, search for teams, players, or in-game highlights and then filter down results even further. You could even sort results by play type (such as big plays or touchdowns), down, teams, week, and season, plus see results in the form of video highlights.

NFL Game Pass on Mobile

There isn’t a separate NFL Game Pass app to download; it’s a part of the NFL app. That app (along with the Yahoo Sports app) gives you access to in-market Sunday afternoon games and prime-time broadcasts for free, with the caveat that you can’t cast these streams to a larger screen. I downloaded the NFL app on an Android 11 device and had no issues signing in to my account.

NFL Game Pass Review | PCMag

The NFL Game Pass section is accessible via the rightmost icon in the bottom navigation bar. The interface within this section resembles the Home section of the web app, but the design looks better on the smaller screen. When you click on a game’s thumbnail, you get the option to watch a full replay or the condensed game mode. Again, I didn't see any options for the Coaches Film or audio-only modes. All the same information (such as plays, insights, and stats) from the web interface is available on mobile, too.

The app supports a picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, but it’s not a standard implementation. Instead of a small video player that floats above the rest of the app, the minimized player shows a tiny video square with playback controls on the side in a floating bar. This is not an ideal way to keep tabs on a game.

Playback Experience

The web app’s playback interface has regressed significantly since the time I last tested the service. Aside from the standard playback controls, you still get 10-second rewind and fast-forward buttons as well as a closed caption toggle. Gone however are buttons for enabling slow-motion playback, changing the streaming resolution, and switching between the playback modes. You can no longer view multiple games simultaneously either. The mobile playback screen carries over the rewind and fast-forward buttons from the web, as well as the closed caption toggle.

Game Pass can stream games at up to 1080/60fps, but that resolution and frame rate varies based on the quality of the original broadcast. Without a button for adjusting those settings on the playback screen, it's not easy to determine the resolution of a given stream.

Hulu + Live TV, Paramount+, and YouTube TV both support 1080p/60fps live streams for select networks and platforms. FuboTV is even set to broadcast some NFL games in 4K this season. YouTube TV supports 4K live streams via an add-on, but it's not clear if that service will stream any NFL games at that resolution.

NFL Game Pass says that it does not place any limits on concurrent streams, which is a useful feature for large households. In testing, I streamed game replays on my laptop and phone at the same time without any issues. For comparison, DirecTV Stream lets you stream on as many as 20 devices simultaneously on your home network.

I tried watching a replay of the Week 1 game between the Raiders and Ravens over my Windows 10 laptop’s Wi-Fi connection (200 Mbps download) and did not experience any playback issues. The video quality reached its full resolution and the audio played in sync. The live audio feature worked fine on a desktop browser, but when I tried launching the stream on my mobile device, the app started to crash and became unusable. An NFL Game Pass support page notes that there are currently problems with live audio on mobile devices.

Accessibility and Other Features

NFL Game Pass offers closed captions for all its content and options for customizing them from the playback screen (such as font size, font color, background color, and character highlight). However, the captions annoyingly cover the bottom part of the screen and often conceal the score box that networks overlay on game broadcasts. This problem is worse when viewing the game in full screen and there is no option to adjust the position of the captions. In testing, the captions also ran significantly behind the in-game action, particularly with the condensed replay modes.

You won’t find the audio description feature that Apple TV+, Netflix, and Prime Video offer alongside their on-demand content. Audio descriptions are audible narrations of scene changes and character actions that are not discernible through dialog alone. This feature is typically reserved for narrative content rather than sporting events, but some of NFL Game Pass’s on-demand shows might benefit from this accessibility option.

Game Pass does not support parental controls or multiple profiles, but neither of those capabilities is relevant to the service’s content. DVR recording also doesn’t make much sense for NFL Game Pass, since there isn’t much live video streaming content available. However, NFL Game Pass does not support offline downloads on mobile, which is a major omission. Since the NFL games on the service are not live anyway, it would have made sense to include this capability. The length of full NFL games is suitable for long travel times, and I could imagine some subscribers wanting the ability to listen to game audio the same way they would listen to an offline podcast.

NFL Game Pass and VPN

A VPN is an excellent way to protect your privacy online. Sometimes, a VPN’s ability to mask your IP address interferes with video streaming services. Some content may be locked to certain regions for example, which is why many streaming services try to block VPN traffic outright.

I tried streaming content on NFL Game Pass from both my Windows 10 PC and Android phone which were connected to a US-based Mullvad VPN server. I couldn't stream any replays on my Windows 10 laptop and the NFL app wouldn't initially load on my test Android device over that VPN connection. After I had launched the NFL app for the first time, I was able to watch replays via the app over a VPN connection, however.

Even if your VPN and video streaming services work for now, that’s no guarantee that they will continue to do so. Most video streaming services actively work to prevent you from streaming content over a VPN connection.

Watch Every NFL Game…With a Delay

For NFL fans who do not live in their favorite team’s market and don’t want to pay for several expensive streaming services concurrently, NFL Game Pass is the next best thing to watching the games live. The service lives up to its promise of hosting replays of every NFL game at streams of up to 1080p/60fps. However, the genuinely useful playback modes and controls are gone, and the web interface has fewer features than it did in the past. The closed captioning settings are still a bit of a mess, and we miss the audio replay options, too. People who do live in their favorite team’s market should consider a live TV streaming service, instead.

Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV are our top picks for live TV streaming services because of their excellent set of features and comprehensive channel lineups.


Full and condensed replays of every NFL game each week

Supports streams of up to 1080p/60fps

Live audio for every game

No limits on simultaneous streams

Cheapest way to watch out-of-market games

View MoreCons

Other versions of NFL Game Pass include live games

Can’t watch replays offline

Option to stream multiple games simultaneously in same view is gone

Audio replays are no longer available

Problems with live game audio on mobile in testing

Poor implementation of closed-caption options

View MoreThe Bottom Line

NFL Game Pass offers what no other video streaming service does for NFL fans: access to every regular-season and postseason game (albeit as replays) regardless of location. However, the service no longer offers the unique playback features and controls that elevated its experience.

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