For the last 2 years we have not had cable TV at our house. This was a conscious decision on our part. With 2 young children and being very busy at work, I believe we (the adults) watch a total of ~2-3 hours of TV a week most weeks. We still have cable for broadband, but don’t have a TV package.
The one thing I’ve missed is our DIRECTV (I checked. Apparently that is the right way to write their name) subscription to the NFL. I’m not someone who really wants to see every game, but having grown up in Philadelphia, I really want to see the Eagles games. I did not mind paying DIRECTV $200-300 for that right. The 2 things I did mind were the inability to buy just the games I couldn’t otherwise get, and having to pay for all the other DIRECTV stuff in order to get the right to pay them for access.
Last year DIRECTV added an internet streaming option to their top package. While it is my understanding that DIRECTV will allow you to buy the steaming capability from them if you pay the full price, there is no clear way to do that on their site, and I didn’t feel like trying to talk to a person to do it. I gave a friend who bought full access some $$$ to use his login. This worked okay, however it still isn’t perfect because you cannot see the Monday Night or Thursday Night game with this option. Since I don’t have cable, I still couldn’t see these games.
An interesting thing though – when I was out of the country for business, I could buy a subscription to see the NFL games. The offered subscription under the following options –
- Full Season – every game $250
- Follow your team – every game for a given team $100
- 1 Month – every game that month $70
- 1 Week – every game that week $25
Even better – when you sign up you get the ability to watch all previous games that season with a DVR type interface. So if you aren’t going to be available for kick off, no problem, just start it when you can, and watch the game from the beginning.
So – how does this help me? Easy – pay for a VPN in Europe. (I used www.hidemyass.com) and route all your traffic through it. Then login to the NFL, buy your subscription. Then watch your games.
Now, at first this caused some issues. Bouncing the traffic off of a server in Europe made the feed a bit poor. But, it turns out, the NFL only checks where you are coming from when you log in. So after you login, and before you launch their app, simply drop the VPN connection. You now get your full bandwidth. It is a true HD feed as far as I can see.
You can also watch multiple games at a time if you wish.
I still have my friend’s DIRECTV login, however it seems to me that either their servers are overloaded, or they are purposefully degrading their feed to push you to the satellite feed. The DIRECTV feed running on the same computer and same connection is significantly worse than the one from the NFL.
So, if you want to watch the NFL how you want to watch it, simply paying ~$10/month for the VPN connection and pay the NFL for their product (something I do not mind doing), there is a very viable option available.