NFL Game Pass Falls On Week 1

NFL Field Pass

Outside of prepping Devious Theatre for two productions still to come this year, returning to the autumn podcast schedule and work in general, I’ve been spending the last week or so getting set to return to football blogging. American Football that is. Of all the things I’ve written about and taken an interest in over the last four years, the NFL is the one I felt I shouldn’t have stopped on, but did.

Flash back to last week and the 2009 season just a few days away from kick off (it officially started on Thursday night), I subscribe to NFL Game Pass HD, the NFL’s answer to video on demand for all games, every team, including access to the NFL Network and their new Redzone TV channel, and all for the princely sum of around €190 or so.

Day one, no problem. Day two, no problem. I get to watch some NFL Total Access shows over Friday / Saturday. I dip into the 2008 archives and stream the Steelers and Titans from Week 16 of the 2008 calendar, all in full-screen high-definition streaming quality. Impressed – most certainly.

Then comes yesterday, I settle in to watch Game Day morning TV, the show streaming in advance of the lunchtime starts in the US (6pm Irish time). Bengals vs Broncos my game of choice before switching to Redzone TV to geet flash updates and footage from all games. I’m five minutes in, click to switch to Redzone TV and the console crashes. Hmmmm. Possibly the Windows machine at fault, so I reload, get myself back in the game. Two minutes later, it crashes out. And thats it. 7pm rolls by, 8pm rolls by and nothing. Whatever about US users having the luxury to watch the games in the evening, we’re five hours ahead and the rest of Europe heading further into the night.

No video access, no radio access (I’ve a Field Pass radio account as a back up) – nothing. No explanation either apart from an eventual graphic, displayed above. Boards.ie users weren’t too happy and I’m hoping, having made a season-long investment, that the NFL have some serious backup plan and this isn’t the level of service on game day we can continue to expect.

That said, when service was restored a few hours later (late enough for me to catch the final TD score in the Bengals and Broncos game), uptime was maintained and quality never suffered. But for an organisation the size of the NFL, with subscribers paying a fee of that size in advance for their services, on the opening day of the season, surely we’re allowed to expect better.