The NFL just announced its new NFL Plus streaming service officially launching on Monday, August 1, and to say I'm a little disappointed is an understatement. So forgive me in advance, football fans; I'm about to disappoint you too. NFL Plus will most likely not make our list of best streaming services.
Games on NFL Plus will start with the Hall of Fame Game on August 4, which should be a thrilling contest between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars. David Jurenka, the Senior VP of NFL media, told The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), "I think the offering we have put together is robust and at a really attractive price."
At first glance that seems accurate; at just $4.99 a month, most fans will think it is a huge bargain to watch their favorite teams battle it out on Sundays. However, there are some significant catches to the service that will leave most fans turning to other options.
What does NFL Plus include?
NFL Plus features two tiers: standard and premium. You will be able to watch both live local and national primetime games on both tiers, but here's the rub, subscribers on the standard tier will only be able to watch them on mobile devices. The standard tier ($4.99/month or $39.99/year) includes: live out-of-market Preseason games across devices, live local regular season & postseason games on your phone or tablet, live primetime regular season & postseason games on your phone or tablet, live game audio (home, away & national calls) for every game of the season and, NFL library programming on-demand, also ad-free.
Subscribers on the premium tier ($9.99/month or $79.99/year) get everything standard comes with plus, full game replays across devices (ad-free), condensed game replays across devices (ad-free), and Coaches Film, which are also free of ads.
Is NFL Plus a good value?
First off, you can watch most local NFL games with a TV antenna, which saves you a lot of money. Secondly, the major difference between the two tiers is that you can watch across multiple devices with premium. The NFL knows the vast majority of football fans are going to want the more expensive tier, so it just feels like a bait and switch, slick car salesman stunt that will drive budget-conscious sports fans nuts.
Also, out-of-market games only being available via audio is very frustrating, and why pay for that? Sure they use words like "included" to make you think it's free, but it's not. Also, how does this affect one of the better streaming experiences, NFL Sunday Ticket? NFL Sunday ticket is a cross-platform service available on consumers' favorite streaming devices. Will it be affected by NFL Plus?
The whole NFL Plus (opens in new tab) setup seems counterproductive and just feels like a money grab by one of the wealthiest sports leagues. Save the money, buy yourself an antenna and sit back and enjoy your local team's games. NFL Plus seems like a major minus for fans. While they may be more expensive if you are only looking to watch NFL games, a TV subscription service like Hulu + Live TV, FuboTV or YouTube TV are all better overall values.