NFL Game Pass – The Best Way to Watch NFL Football from Japan

August 16, 2011

If you are living in Japan and need a football fix, there are several things you can do from some of the underground live feeds that are more often used to broadcast soccer matches all over the world. I relied on these for a while but found them to be unreliable, and to sometimes be broadcast with announcers speaking languages I didn’t understand. I’m pretty sure I watched on regular season game in a dialect of ancient Sumerian, though I admit it was a lot of fun seeing how some of the players’ names were rendered in cuneiform.

As a huge football fan though, eventually I realized that I wanted to know that I was going to be seeing the games when I meant to. If I wanted to see a game that started at 1pm on the east coast, I was up at 3am or so just hoping that I could find a live feed. It’s not fun to be sitting there at the witching hour with chips, salsa, soda and have no game to enjoy it with.

Game Pass has a few different plans you can use, including midseason and late season deals for people who join late. The faq says that they also occasionally do free trials, so you can watch for that.

With my superfast Japanese internet, I was able to watch the games without interruption. If for some reason I couldn’t wake up in time to watch the games they were all there waiting for me to watch, saved for up to 24 hours. I prefer to watch live though.

Now the price feels a bit steep. However, there are 2 types of subscription. One is the “your team” subscription which is only for games featuring the team you selected. The other is the “Season” subscription which gives access to all the games. One year I shared a “Season” subscription with a few friends so that we could see more than just two teams worth of games for a reasonable price. This requires sharing a log in and trying not to use it on different computers at the same time.

If I’m correct, this year the price is about $280 for the full season and about $200 for just one team. (Renewals get a discount on the plans… I think it’s $240.)

The Game Pass homepage also mentions mobile and tablet access with download of the Game Pass app for android or iOS… I haven’t used this feature, though so I can’t attest to it. I heard that it was spotty last year but that improvements are expected.

Here’s a review by an Aussie football fan that has uses the service as well. Most people I’ve talked to are pretty happy with it and even though it might seem a bit expensive, it’s worth it to be able to see NFL games from Japan.

Here’s also a pretty good set of comments and discussions about the service from some football fans in the UK. This site is pretty current with lots of information and reviews of NFL Game Pass from people currently using it.

I should also mention that they don’t offer playoff games. The Game Pass plan only covers the regular season.

Also, if you are in Japan, as you know some of the cable sports stations and NHK show the games delayed, or on occasion live. If you think your team might get a lot of air time and you don’t mind waiting, you can save a little money by watching the schedule here:

NFL Japan Broadcast Schedule

As you can see with a little katakana reading skill is that there are a few live games broadcast each week. Week one at the link above features the Saints-Packers, Eagles-Rams, Steelers-Ravens, and Cowboys-Jets games will be shown live on the Nippon Television’s G+ cable sports network. Those games and others can be seen delayed on NHK, Gaora, and G+ as well.

NFL Game Pass has a “pay by the week” option so if you want to watch the NFL Japan schedule and just buy the games that you want to watch live but aren’t on G+, that is another option. For me it was simpler just to pay for the service and enjoy all the season.

Game Pass can be found at http://gamepass.nfl.com.