This past week, I was able to check out the brand new streaming service NFL+. It was originally announced back late last month.
Right now, the streaming service enables users to stream select preseason games from their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV as long as the game is not in their TV market. NFL+ currently starts at just $4.99 a month.
I have been testing out the service over the past week and these are my initial thoughts on it.
To start this, let’s talk about the fact that this all works through the NFL app. I like this move a lot because it adds a feature to an app that many people already have and does not require them to download yet another app on their already app-loaded smartphone or other streaming device.
It’s like the folks at the NFL ripped a page out of ESPN’s playbook with it having ESPN+ on it and did a similar touch with the NFL app and NFL+.
Next up, let’s talk about the design of NFL+.
Going back to my previous comment, I like how all I have to do is NFL+ icon towards the bottom right-corner of the app and it shows all of the games that are currently on and which ones I am able to stream through NFL+.
I simply tap the game that I want to watch, and if it’s not in my TV market, I get to watch it live. It really could not be simpler than that.
The video streaming quality is pretty great and even better on devices like an Apple TV that have an Ethernet port on them.
I also like that the app does let you know when your favorite team’s game has started so you can either watch it or monitor it from the NFL app. However, in all fairness, even the Apple TV app has those notifications.
I did find a problem when using AirPlay from my iPad Air to my Apple TV HD where it would enable the AirPlay connectivity, but if the screen on the iPad turned off, then the AirPlay would disconnect from the Apple TV and you’d have to connect it all over again.
While I did enjoy streaming the games live between my iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, there were still a couple of notable problems with the streamign service that I believe need to be addressed.
The first one is that sometimes, even when a game is out of your TV market, the app makes it so you can only stream it on your smartphone. I have no idea if this is due to the broadcast of the games since a lot of the games are being broadcast by local TV stations that may not have the same video and streaming standards as NFL Network, CBS, FOX, NBC, or ESPN. Either way, I think if the game is out of the direct TV market, users need to be able to stream those games from both an iPhone and iPad, and not have some sort of undefined distinction between the two of them.
Instead of streaming the broadcast feed, you are given streams to the home and away teams’ radio broadcasts, which seems pretty pointless to me. A live alternative, yes, but at the same time, pretty disappointing.
The other issue I see with this will start in the regular season, which is only being able to stream the games in your TV market (CBS and FOX games) on a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad.
There is no doubt that the NFL is trying to cater to people that are on-the-go but still want to catch some of the games live. There is nothing wrong with that and I applaud them for providing a solution to that.
My issue with it is the fact that you can only stream it on an iPhone or iPad, and it’s still a streaming service you have to pay for. At least when the live local games were on Yahoo Sports, while you could not play them on your home’s big screen, you could get them on a mobile device like the ones previously mentioned and stream them for completely free.
While I do appreciate the NFL allowing early NFL+ users to stream select preseason games live on devices like the Apple TV, I feel that since people are going to be paying between $4.99-$9.99 a month for this streaming service, you need to offer them the ability to play it on their home’s big screen.
One could make the argument and say if the NFL made it simpler to stream their local games live, that many people would leave live TV streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, or fuboTV that are highly predicated on sports fans and those local games, or other services like Paramount+ and Peacock.
I on the other hand say that NFL+ needs to find a happy balance. Perhaps not have a TV feature on the $4.99 a month tier, but perhaps the $9.99 a month tier. That way fans do have the option to stream their local on games from their TVs through NFL+ without having to pay for an expensive live TV streaming service or cable and satellite.
If anything, it could increase even more viewership of games for fans.
Overall, despite the excellent video quality and simple navigation, NFL+ gets 2/4 stars for the two major concerns I just mentioned. While it may be good to watch preseason games on, I’m not sure how fans will feel about it once the regular season starts and they can’t put it on their big screen.
Watching on a smaller screen like an iPhone or iPad can be nice and convenient, we all know fans would rather have it on their actual TV.
Rating: 2/4 stars