NFL Plus sees confusion, complaints among subscribers

(Stock image via Pexels/Graphic by The Desk)

The National Football League’s (NFL) attempt to offer expanded streaming access to games got off to a rocky start last weekend on the professional sports league’s first official week of the new season.

Hundreds of football fans took to social media on Sunday to complain about the NFL’s new streaming service, NFL Plus, with some subscribers complaining that they weren’t able to access the games they wanted to watch.

The confusion seemed to stem in part from the NFL’s willingness to allow fans to stream all live pre-season games prior to last weekend, even if the game was not being aired by a television station in the customer’s viewing area.

Some customers mistakenly believed the service also offered out-of-market access to live games played during the season — a perk that the NFL never advertised as part of NFL Plus. Instead, the league offers audio play-by-play from out-of-market games; video access is still only available through the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is distributed exclusively by DirecTV.

NFL Plus does allow customers to stream telecasts of games airing on broadcast and cable networks within their home viewing area, including Sunday brunch and afternoon games played on CBS and Fox, as well as Sunday evening games on NBC and Monday night events on ESPN and ABC. Those streams are limited to phones and tablets; customers still need an antenna, cable or satellite to watch games on their TV sets.

Frustratingly, some NFL Plus subscribers reported issues with streaming games on their mobile devices, even when those games were airing on their local CBS or Fox stations. It wasn’t clear what was causing the issue, and the NFL has not issued a statement about Sunday’s technical problems.

It wasn’t just NFL Plus that suffered glitches on Sunday: Viewers with subscriptions to YouTube TV and Sling TV reported problems accessing the NFL RedZone channel, which offers live coverage of touchdowns from most games aired on CBS and Fox. Customers with the streaming version of DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket also reported issues accessing some games that should have been available through that service.

A spokesperson for DirecTV acknowledged the service suffered from an unspecified outage that was fixed within an hour, while an official with Sling TV said a few NFL RedZone customers might be affected by a prolonged technical issue that could be fixed if they switched devices.