NFL Gamepass – An Addict Writes | July 16, 2012
It was around halfway through last season that I began to discover Gamepass; I’d heard the name a few times before, but never really bothered finding out about it. As my knowledge built up, I became convinced that it was going to become an essential part of my NFL viewing for 2012. So much so, that as soon as the 2012 prices and packages were announced I signed up.
So what is NFL Gamepass?
Essentially, it means you’re the director of your own NFL channel on your laptop/tablet. During the season, you can pick which live games you watch (excluding televised games), you can watch 4 simultaneously and flick between games as much as you want. When there are no live games on you can watch the NFL Network or watch any game form the last 3 season. If you don’t want to sit through the entirety of matches you can select the big plays or watch a condensed version of the game that eliminates the time between plays. In short, it’s as much NFL viewing as you could wish for, all at the click of a button.
The current price for Gamepass is £99 for the 2012 season or £124 for the “Premium” package that includes the playoffs. Either package can be split into 4 equal payments. I opted for the former, as all play-off games are on Sky anyway, so I can watch all of them without the need for Gamepass.
My main concern upon buying Gamepass was regarding the quality of the picture. My laptop is a few years old and wasn’t exactly top of the range when I bought it. However, my fears were allayed as soon as I launched the app. The picture quality and consistency was far better than I receive on services such as iPlayer and SkyGo. There was no buffering, no freezing and no sound discrepancy.
Secondly, it’s ridiculously simple to navigate. There’s a toolbar on the right that allows you to pick your game or show. If you select a game you can chose to watch it full or condensed. In addition to the current NFL Network programming, you can pick from a decent range of programs from last season like Gameday, Playbook and even the latest series of the Top 100 NFL players.
My first week of Gamepass has largely been spent catching up with the Eagles last couple of seasons. 2012 will be my first season as an Eagles fan so I’m keen to watch as much game footage of them as possible. I’ve been working my way through all their 2011 matches to help me get to know some of the players I’ll be cheering on this season. It’s not made for overly pleasant viewing – having watched a few opposition runs from the early weeks, I quite fancy my chances of racking up a 100 yard game against the Eagles! The beauty of Gamepass is that you can rewind and replay the action – so having watched Steven Jackson run through the heart of the Eagles defence at ease; I could then go back and watch it over and over again whilst trying to establish what went wrong. I’m no Defensive coordinator but….well let’s just say that neither is Juan Castillo based on much of the footage I’ve been watching. Even the comfortable Week 1 victory over the Rams is littered with basic errors and penalties.
Aside from watching Eagles defeats, I’ve also been dabbling in some of the NFL Network programming. I’m a sucker for the “Top 10” programmes – especially the more leftfield ones like “Bad Weather Games” or “Controversial Calls”. The NFL seems to have an endless supply of memorable moments and the Network go a great job of packaging them and giving them gravitas. Spending an hour watching the story of the (e.g.) 07 Giants, is a great way to spend an hour after a long day at work. The only drawback is that – whilst you can see the daily programming on the NFL Network – you can only watch the on air programmes. So if you’re out when a show is on you have to wait for it to be repeated in order to catch it.
Clearly, September will be when Gamepass comes into its own and I can’t wait for Sunday evenings to come around. My plan is to watch all the Eagles games live, but also to flick over to other games during breaks or garbage time. Gamepass has “Big Play Markers” so you can scroll to footage of key moments you may have missed. When the Eagles aren’t playing, I plan to take advantage of the multi screen option that allows you to watch up to 4 games simultaneously. I’ve briefly experimented with this option by simultaneously playing back 4 games last season and it’s not as confusing as you’d think. Sure, there are times when there are 2 or 3 plays going on at the same time, but in the main you can just focus on one game at a time.
It’ll also be great for catching up with the late night games – the Condensed method of viewing allows you to watch a game in around 35 minutes. Ideal for a quick watch before leaving for work on a Monday morning.
One of the publicised drawbacks of Gamepass is that the Live TV games will be unavailable for 6 days. So, if you don’t have Sky/ESPN, you have to wait almost a week to be able to view the game. Obviously, this is pretty annoying if you don’t have satellite TV, especially if you support one of the more popular and successful franchises. I can understand Sky’s viewpoint on this, as they want to maximise their subscribers, but it does seem a bit unfair you fork out £100 for Gamepass and then can’t watch all the games. NFL Redzone is also unavailable on the UK/Eire version of Gamepass. I’m not a big Redzone fan; however I do watch it when Sky pick a duff game or a game that finishes early. Again, it’s a shame that Redzone isn’t available on Gamepass and I can understand why this would be off putting to some fans. But even taking into account these flaws, I still think Gamepass is a must buy for all NFL fans in the UK.
Personally, I can see myself spending Sunday evenings with my laptop showing the Eagles game, plus the live Sky game on my TV, throw in the occasional flicks to Redzone and Big Plays from other games and I think I’ve got a pretty comprehensive NFL viewing plan for 2012!
I just hope my girlfriend can cope!