The Best Way to Watch NFL Games Outside the US


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 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 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.


The Best Way to Watch NFL Games Outside the US — 22 Comments

  1. Another thing you can do is share that cost with someone else – if another football fan and you live close together…

    I’ve had good luck with Hola, the Chrome extension, though frankly I’ll be heading outside the house for the biggest game of the year 🙂

  2. I’ll have to check out Hola. Thanks for the tip. As for the Super Bowl…yeah probably more fun to watch at a bar. There’s a few places opening at 6am. I don’t care so much who actually wins this year, but I expect a good game.

  3. Your comment on NFL GamePass is not really correct, since NFL GamePass is specifies what countries you can use this from, and they are very limited. I live in China for example, and they do not honor it here.

    • I don’t know why that would be. The NFL would be shutting itself off from thousands of potential paying customers in cities like Beijing and Shanghai that have large numbers of American expats. Their website says, “NFL Game Pass is only available to users located outside the United States, Mexico, Bermuda, Antigua, the Bahamas, and any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths.” Nothing about blocking China mentioned. Are you using a VPN to access a US-based IP address for things like Facebook? Maybe that could be the problem.

      • NFL Game Pass is available to most countries outside the States. I just moved to Thailand and am considering getting one. The following is from the NFL website:

        “*Certain restrictions apply. NFL Game Pass is only available to users located outside the United States, Mexico, Bermuda, Antigua, the Bahamas, and any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths. Some 2009 regular season games are not available. Game broadcasts included in the service are available only in English. For a full description of device-specific features, requirements, limitations, and other information, visit our FAQ.”

    • Yes, you can. I often ended up doing this just because I could, and I nearly always regretted it the next day when I was running on 2-3 hours of sleep.

  4. Hey Ryan, I’m on Ko Samui right now…will I be able to stream Sunday ticket on my iPad? Direct tv is saying it won’t work outside the US.

    Game pass is on nfl network correct? Wondering if I should just purchase that package as we’ll.

    • Yes, I’m guessing that won’t work unless you use a VPN or something to make it appear that you’re in the US, and I’m not sure how you’d go about doing that with an iPad. I had a similar problem once when I went back home for a visit and couldn’t access GamePass from inside the US. I think it comes down to different advertising agreements.

      GamePass also lets you watch a bunch of the NFL network content and you can watch old games during the offseason. If you’re going to spend a lot of time outside the US I recommend it just because it allows you to watch any game whenever you want so you can still stick to a normal sleep schedule and not miss any action. It’s a little expensive, but ultimately a big chunk of what you pay is going to the players, and I don’t mind contributing to them considering that they are risking neck injuries and such for our entertainment.

  5. Hey Ryan, I’m moving to thailand in 3 weeks and am a huge giants/ nfl fan. Not being able to watch them wouldn’t have made me happy. I’m happy I found this post. I was thinking of getting nfl rewind, but would rather watch some games live while there. Since I can’t get nfl game pass here, when I arrive in thailand Will I be able to purchase it right away?

    Thanks !

  6. You can watch nfl online on ScreenVariety website, it’s the best option this year
    I think ScreenVariety is good place for you , you also have there very good live Tv with all season games

  7. I don’t know how to watch it absolutely free, However You can take subscription on ScreenVariety Tv for $29/yearly if you want to watch games HD

  8. I have just purchased a smart tv, and I just moved to a small town a short distance north of Chiang Mai. I have 3BB service, fiber optic 200mbs (although it’s more like 20mbs from the USA). Can I sign up for NFL Gamepass and use it directly to my tv, or do I have to use a computer (Mac) and connect that to the tv?

  9. Hi Ryan,

    I just moved to Chiang Mai and have taken up residence in the Chang Klan Residence. If I purchase NFL Gamepass will I be able to view it in the connected TV they provide?……Anything I should know?

    • Sorry for a late reply. I don’t live there, but what I do is just connect my laptop to the flatscreen TV with an HDMI cable. Then I can watch NFL Gamepass on a big screen. Hope that helps.

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