This season, the NFL will offer live streaming video of its games. But there’s a catch. You need DirecTV, or you need to live on another continent.
The NFL may have the most tightly restricted content of any sports league, but there are ways to get the games if you know where to look. ###
Since last season, live video has been offered to those living overseas for a rate of $249.99/season through a partnership with Yahoo! Sports. Steep to be sure, but no more expensive than DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket package in the U.S. For an additional $99, a Superfan upgrade offers live online video and mobile access to games. Here are some other non-traditional options:
Slingbox: For $129.99 ($30 more than the DirecTV upgrade), a box from Sling Media will stream every channel offered on your cable or satellite receiver to any windows computer or cell phone. If you have Sunday Ticket already, why pay $99 a year for streaming when after the first year a Slingbox will pay for itself.
P2P Sites: There are a number of peer-2-peer sites that have sprung up over the past year offering free live video of NFL games, albeit illegally. Blogs like this update several hours before NFL games with the P2P channels particular games are available on.
A word to the wise, these sites require users to download applications which will use upstream bandwidth. There are lots of games retransmitted across these platforms, but they are not entirely reliable so use at your own risk.
NFL.com: This season, if you need a fix of football highlights on-demand, options are limited. Following their decision to cap video clips on other sites at 45 seconds, NFL.com will be the only place to go for in-depth online video coverage. While their video section is pretty good, it’s no alternative to independent reporting, and far more limited than the options offered across the web in recent years.
Above: Raider Nation Videocast
Podcasts: If all else fails, there are plenty of fans out there offering commentary and an opportunity to be a part of fan culture from afar. While they don’t offer game footage or player interviews, many, like the Raider Nation Videocast (above) are professionally produced and highly entertaining.
While the NFL is increasing prices and restrictions on their content, fans are finding new ways to experience the NFL on their terms. Forcing fans to pay for good content and go elsewhere for engagement will not be a successful strategy in the long-run. The league is going to have to find a way to be less restrictive with their coverage and find better ways to monetize syndication. Too many limitations will alienate too many fans and at least partially legitimize less-than-legal means of consumption.