If you are a fan of what the rest of the world calls “American Football”, following your favorite NFL team while living overseas can present some problems. First of all, there is the time difference issue. If you live in Japan, Korea, China, or Southeast Asia you are going to be somewhere around 10 to 12 hours ahead of your hometown in the US. For simplicity’s sake lets say there is a 12 hour time difference. That means a noon kickoff on Sunday will happen at your midnight, and a 4pm afternoon kickoff will be 4am Monday morning for you.
So right away you can see that trying to watch live NFL games is going to mess up your sleep schedule. And depending on your working hours, some games might just be impossible to watch live. The other problem of trying to watch live NFL games is where are you going to get the broadcast from. There are basically 2 main free options you can choose. First would be to try to find a live stream. I’ve done this before, but it is a completely unreliable and very frustrating way to watch a game. The people putting up the live streams don’t have the legal right to do so, and that means the stream can get cut off at any moment. Let me tell you, nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of watching a live stream of an NFL game, your team is down by 4 in the 4th quarter with the ball on the opponents’ 20 yard line, it’s 3rd and 9, and suddenly the stream just cuts out. ARRRRRGHHH!!!!
Another free method to watch NFL games live is USTVNow.com. You can sign up for a free membership there, which allows you to watch the major US TV networks live. This will let you watch a certain number of NFL games, but not the games on ESPN. One other drawback is that it shows you the networks as they are broadcast from somewhere on the East coast, so you might not catch the noon kickoff game that you were hoping for. But this is a good solution for watching Sunday Night Football games, assuming that you don’t have to be at work early on Monday morning.
What I discovered this year to be the best solution was just to bite the bullet and pay for NFL GamePass. I think it ended up being about $180 for the whole season, which is a little expensive. But I felt it was worth it because it really made watching the games a lot more enjoyable. I never had to worry about waking up at 4 in the morning to catch the kickoff. I never had to deal with the broadcast vanishing halfway through a game. And there were many more benefits.
The best thing about using NFL GamePass was just being able to pause, fast-forward, and rewind the games. You never have to miss any action to go to the kitchen or the bathroom. And you don’t have to sit through all the commercials if you’re watching the game recorded. Also, watching the games this way is much easier on your body clock. Instead of missing a bunch of sleep in the middle of the night, you can just wake up at a regular hour and start watching the game. If you have to work in the morning, then you can wait until the afternoon to watch the game. The only challenge is to resist the temptation to check Facebook if you don’t want the result of the game to get spoiled by your friends’ posts.
The other great thing about NFL GamePass is that you can watch as many games as you want to at any time. You could watch all the games from the Packer’s playoff run in 2010, for example. Or maybe you’d want to re-watch the Harbaugh brothers’ first coaching showdown from Thanksgiving 2011. So overall, if you are just a very casual fan, you might be fine catching a game here or there with USTVNow.com or on replay at a bar near you. But if you want to really follow a particular team and catch a lot of other games across the league too, then NFL GamePass makes sense.