Pro football is by far the most watched television event of any kind in this country, and it’s not close. Of the 100 most watched TV broadcasts of 2022, a whopping 75 were NFL games! NFL+ allows pro football fans to access a large library of NFL games from a mobile device, or tablet only. Let’s dig into the details to help you decide whether NFL+ is right for you.
Table of Contents
In order to capitalize on the popularity of its content, and to take advantage of the trend towards streaming, the NFL is jumping into the cord cutting fray with its own streaming service, called NFL Plus. In this NFL Plus viewing guide, I will walk pro football fans through the NFL Plus programming lineup, how much it costs, and answer questions that are sure to arise as NFL diehards decide whether this is an app they want to add to their phones and tablets.
- Watch local NFL
- Stream all the big national games, including Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Playoffs, and the Super Bowl
- Live audio for NFL games
- Out-of-market pre-season games
- Mobile and tablet only. Can’t watch NFL games on a TV or big screen
- NFL charging for some content that used to be free
Why you can’t watch NFL+ on your TV
Right off the bat, I am going to disappoint some of our readers by letting them know that, unless it’s an out-of-market preseason game, you can’t watch NFL Plus on your TV.
Except for out-of-market preseason games, NFL+ is limited to mobile and tablet viewing exclusively because the platform is powered by the NFL’s mobile rights only.
The NFL has already sold its TV rights to partners like FOX, CBS, NBC, and Amazon for billions of dollars. For example, Amazon is paying 1 billion per year for the exclusive rights to carry Thursday Night Football. Under the terms of its TV contracts, the NFL is prohibited from airing live TV games the rights to which are currently licensed by some of the world’s biggest media companies.
However, the NFL’s mobile rights are a different story, and that is where NFL+ comes in. Since 2010, Verizon held the mobile NFL streaming rights but let them lapse for the 2022 season, which ended the free mobile NFL stream on the Yahoo Sports app (Verizon owns Yahoo).
The mobile rights previously held by Verizon fell back into the hands of the NFL, and they are charging for them with NFL+.
The NFL is charging for previously free content
With NFL+, the NFL is taking programming that used to be free on the NFL app, and charging for it behind the NFL+ paywall.
Sporting News wrote a story last season detailing ways to watch NFL live streams for free and erroneously claimed that you needed a cable TV subscription to watch primetime NFL games on the NFL app in 2021.
This was simply wrong.
To view local games in 2021 on the NFL app, NFL fans had to connect the TV account of their choice (including live TV streaming services) with the NFL app. I used a YouTube TV account to watch local NFL games on the NFL app in the 2021 season.
However, for prime time games, including playoff games, you could watch free of charge on mobile just by downloading the NFL app, no sign in with a TV provider was required. This made the NFL app a rare good bargain in an increasingly expensive streaming landscape.
Today, both local and primetime games will be streamed for NFL+ subscribers, so NFL fans lose the free live stream of Monday Night, Thursday Night, and Sunday Night Football, as well as playoff games.
NFL+ vs. NFL+ Premium
The major difference between NFL+ and NFL+ Premium is the price, and enhanced viewing features offered through NFL+ Premium, like ad-free game replays and coaches film.
$29.99 / year
- Live out-of-market preseason games on mobile and smart TVs
- Live local and primetime regular season and playoff games on mobile
- Live audio for every NFL game
- NFL Network
$79.99 / year
- Everything you get with NFL+
- Full game replays across devices ad-free
- Condensed game replays ad-free
- Coaches film
- NFL Network
What’s the bottom line? Is NFL+ a Good Deal?
It was a better deal when it was free, however, relative to the prices charged for some live TV streaming services, and taking into consideration just how popular the NFL is, yes, NFL Plus is a pretty good deal. Unlike apps like Bally Sports Plus, which only allow sports fans to watch run of the mill regular season games, NFL+ delivers with primetime matchups, and playoff games. While the mobile only aspect will frustrate some fans, others will be more than happy to watch this NFL season from a tablet.
NFL Plus is partly about leverage
If you’re scratching your head wondering why the NFL, with all the money it makes with its TV deals, would roll out this product now as a mobile only feature, keep in mind that NFL Sunday Ticket, the NFL’s out-of-market package, is up for grabs this offseason.
By demonstrating the ability to create a new product out of expired mobile rights, the NFL adds to its leverage when negotiating a fat new contract for the right’s to NFL Sunday Ticket, and NFL Sunday Ticket.TV.
Answering your NFL+ questions
No, you can’t watch out-of-market NFL games on NFL Plus, the product is not intended to supplant NFL Sunday Ticket or NFL Sunday Ticket.TV. For this season, YouTube TV has the rights to Sunday Ticket.
Yes, you can watch your local NFL team on NFL+, but only on a mobile device or tablet. NFL+ carries live local NFL games, so if you live in Detroit, you can watch the Lions on NFL+ on your phone, but not your smart TV.
Yes, NFL Plus carries every out-of-market NFL preseason game, but not local preseason games for local fans. So, to use our Detroit Lions example again, if you live in Detroit, you can’t watch the Lions preseason game on NFL+ as the TV rights of local affiliates will trump NFL+. However, if you live in NYC and want to watch the Lions preseason game, you can access the live stream on NFL+.
Yes, you can watch Monday Night Football on NFL+, but only on your phone or tablet.
Yes, although Amazon has the exclusive rights to air Thursday Night Football this season, you can watch Thursday Night Football on mobile and tablets with NFL+.
Yes, you can watch Sunday Night Football on ESPN+, but, again, there is the same catch as with all these games, you can only watch on mobile and tablets, not smart TVs.
No, the NFL+ lineup is available only on mobile or tablets, not on laptops or smart TVs. This means it’s not possible to watch NFL+ on a big screen. Why? The NFL sold off most of its media rights to partners for billions of dollars. At present, it only holds the broadcast rights to mobile and tablet broadcasts after the Verizon deal lapsed and returned the rights to the NFL.
I know Roku users will want to know, can I watch NFL+ on my Roku device? No, you can’t watch NFL+ on Roku, Roku devices are considered TVs for purposes of the NFL’s TV contracts.