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How to Bypass NFL Game Pass Blackouts in 3 Easy Steps

Story Highlights

  • About NFL Game Pass
  • Blackout restrictions and how to avoid them
  • What makes a safe VPN?
  • Why I must avoid free VPNs
  • Install a VPN and unlock international NFL Game Pass
  • Best VPNs to bypass blackouts
  • About NFL 2019/2020 season
  • Conclusion

The NFL 2019/2020 season is finally here, and boy are we excited. The 100th edition kicked off in style on Thursday night as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears. This year’s opener didn’t feature the defending champion, with the National Football League opting for two of its oldest teams instead.

The regular season will include 256 games, played over 17 weeks. And if you’re a cord-cutter who will be streaming all these matches as I will, then NFL Game Pass is your go-to destination.

The service will cover all the action from start to finish. It will also feature replays and original programs like Hard Knocks and Chasing Greatness.

But despite all the coverage, shows, and programs, this streaming channel has a significant disadvantage that might thwart off fans. Blackout restrictions still apply to US NFL Game Pass, which means American viewers can’t watch live matches.

Those who subscribe to the international version, however, can stream every game live and benefit from every feature. And the only way to get your hands on an international NFL Game Pass is by using a VPN.


Content Overview


What Is NFL Game Pass?

The National Football League announced the launch of NFL Game Pass in September 2015. The streaming channel is a subscription-based service designed “to enhance the traditional television model.” It allows viewers to watch American football games live and in replay, depending on their location.

Those who live inside the United States can only stream matches once they are over, while international fans get to enjoy every game live. Both subscribers, however, can benefit from the service’s other features, depending on which plan they purchase.

The US Game Pass costs $99.99 a year, while the international version has a pricier yearly fee of $125 and up. You can cough up the money in one payment or through four monthly installments.

So why can’t US residents watch NFL matches live? It’s because of blackout restrictions.


What Are Blackout Restrictions?

Blackout policies have been around for quite some time now. The NFL started using this strategy to sell tickets and make fans attend every home game. The match would not air on TV unless the tickets were sold out 72 hours before kickoff.

But as times evolved, blackout restrictions expanded to cover other broadcasting methods, namely OTT services. Cable providers that hold exclusive TV rights to air NFL games prevent streaming channels from showing live action.

As a result, cord-cutters have to wait until the match is over before they can stream it online. That applies to every channel, even NFL Game Pass, which belongs to the National Football League.

But that’s just applicable to the US version of NFL Game Pass. Fans around the world can watch all 256 games live, as long as they subscribe to the Pro plan. The international Essential package costs about $62/year, but it won’t give you access to every game or show.


How to Bypass Blackout Restrictions With a VPN?

While international viewers don’t have to deal with blackout restrictions, American NFL Game Pass subscribers need all the help they can get. And their only solution is a virtual private network.

Short for VPN, think of this tool as the best quarterback you’ve ever seen (no offense to Tom Brady). In fact, it acts as a receiver, runner, and blocker as well, with just one goal in mind: getting you to the end zone.

VPNs can change your online location by redirecting your internet connection through one of its servers. They create a safe and encrypted passageway to your online traffic that prevents any third party from snooping in on what you’re doing.

Moreover, virtual private networks hide your original IP address and replace it with another one. Your new IP will match the location of the VPN server you selected. In other words, if you connect to a server from Germany, your provider will grant you a Deutsch IP address.

As a result, NFL Game Pass will read that you are inside Germany, allowing you to register to its international version. But if you access the streaming service from inside the US without a VPN, your American IP will reveal your actual location. Therefore, you’ll be stuck with the local Game Pass, which means that you can’t watch live matches.


VPN Must-haves

Now that you’re a bit familiar with VPNs and how they work, the first thing you should keep in mind is that they don’t offer the same services. Just like any other line of business, you have your premium providers and your bad providers.

If you’re a VPN beginner, the only way to differentiate the good apples from the rotten ones is by doing your homework. This means you have to check out the features of the VPN, as well as the privacy policy.

Any service that claims to be the best in the business must have the following requirements:

Military-grade encryption

VPNs are supposed to encrypt your traffic and data. Therefore, your provider must use the most robust protocol on the market: AES 256-bit encryption. 256-bit means that hackers or other prying eyes have to come up with trillions of different combinations to decrypt your data. That’s impossible even if they use supercomputers.

Zero-logs policy

Another critical VPN characteristic is respecting your privacy. Providers with elite status never keep any records about your IP address, online activity, or connection. And they certainly don’t share it with anyone. They have transparent privacy and no-logs policies that explain what sort of data they keep.

High levels of speed

Let’s be honest here. Most of us use VPNs to access geo-restricted material, which most of the time includes streaming services. Whether it’s for sports, series, or movies, the last thing you want to see is video buffering. That’s why you must sign up for a service that offers fast speed rates.

Large server network

Excellent VPNs must be able to bypass all sorts of online restrictions and geo-blocks. That means they must have multiple servers across several countries; the more, the better. Ideal providers have a network of thousands of servers spread across key locations all over the globe.

Device support

Nowadays, it seems that we are always connected to the internet. Our smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, Smart TVs, and gaming consoles all have online access, and we have to secure each one. That is why top VPN services have apps for the most popular operating systems, including iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, and Linux.

They also offer simultaneous connections, allowing you to protect several devices at the same time.

24/7 customer service

It’s always good to know that someone has your back in case things go south. It’s possible that you might encounter a few difficulties with your VPN provider, or have a few questions in need of answering. Your VPN must be available round-the-clock to offer assistance via email, telephone, support ticket, FAQs, and live chat.


Is It Safe to Use Free VPNs?

The question that everyone keeps asking me is how much can premium VPNs and free ones really differ? Well, quite a lot actually. In fact, they have very little in common.

Free VPNs have almost nothing of the above features, especially when it comes to security and privacy. The encryption they use is often weak and easy-to-break, which endangers any sensitive data you have on your device. Furthermore, many of them contain malware and viruses that can infiltrate your tools and steal your information.

And have you ever heard of a VPN that invades your privacy? Because that’s exactly what free ones do. They log data like browsing history, IP addresses, as well as internet activity and connection. Then, they sell it to third parties. That’s how they pay their bills and stay in business.

Yes, free VPNs will end up costing you a lot in terms of privacy, security, not to mention frustration. That’s because they can’t access streaming giants like Netflix, HBO Now, and BBC iPlayer due to the VPN ban they apply. However, top providers are not blacklisted.

Therefore, put your mind at ease and stick to paid services.


How to Install a VPN?

Do you know how in football you have four plays to move the ball 10 yards until you reach the end zone? Well, I’m going to help you bypass NFL Game Pass blackout restrictions with three easy plays.

  1. First, as I discussed earlier, you must register to an elite VPN service then download and install its app.
  2. Open the app and connect to any server outside the US. Also, you should avoid UK servers because they sometimes have blackouts in the region.
  3. Visit the NFL Game Pass website or launch the app to enjoy your international subscription and stream live games.

Yes, folks. That’s how simple it is for a VPN to deliver live NFL Game Pass action no matter where you are in the USA.


Best VPNs for NFL Game Pass

If you’re reading this while in a hurry to stream the upcoming NFL match, you won’t have time for thorough VPN research. Therefore, to help you, I rounded up the best virtual private networks to bypass blackouts.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN-Logo

The VPN with the most rings. ExpressVPN sits on top of my list because it offers an unmatched package of options and features. It scored perfect results on almost all of my tests, especially the most important parts like speed, security, privacy, and coverage.

Take the encryption, for example. The provider uses the best one in the industry; AES 256-bit. Government agencies, hackers, and even your ISP will have a hard time trying to crack this encryption and read your data, that’s if they manage to intercept it.

As for network coverage, ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries, which gives you access to pretty much everything. You can even use it in China, where the Great Firewall clamped down on a lot of VPN providers. The service also still works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and the rest of the most popular streaming channels.

And what’s streaming without a fast connection, especially if you’re watching live matches and HD shows. The company has one of the quickest speed rates on the market, so you’ll have no trouble viewing NFL Game Pass.

“ExpressVPN‚Äôs performance is great. Consistently good speeds.”

PCWorld

When you use ExpressVPN, rest assured that the company isn’t storing any privacy-compromising data. That’s because it follows a strict zero-logging policy. Your identity, IP address, browsing history, and traffic destination will remain concealed.

Get ExpressVPN

Top VPN Provider

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Pros

  • Military-grade encryption.
  • Extensive server network.
  • Smart DNS proxy (MediaStreamer).
  • Five simultaneous device connections.
  • No-logs policy.
  • Split tunneling.
  • Netflix compatibility.
  • Torrenting and P2P support.
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat feature.
  • 30-day refund policy.
  • Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Cons

  • The monthly subscription costs $12.95, which is a bit expensive.

NordVPN

NordVPN

We can’t have a “best VPN list” without NordVPN breaking into it. This Panama-based company comes closest to ExpressVPN in terms of performance.

The most eye-catching feature about this service is the double VPN, which encrypts your traffic twice and offers double protection and privacy. It also uses the same encryption protocol as ExpressVPN. This shows how much this brand takes extra care of your online anonymity and safety.

Another area where NordVPN shines is customer support, receiving an award for its efforts at the 2018 BestVPN.com Awards.

The provider also covers other major areas like a no-logging policy, a vast server network, and a 30-day money-back program.

Get NordVPN

Top VPN Provider

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Pros

  • Double VPN.
  • Located outside Five Eyes alliance jurisdiction.
  • AES 256-bit encryption.
  • 5,000+ servers in 62 countries.
  • Free Smart DNS: SmartPlay.
  • Up to six concurrent device connections.
  • No user logs or records kept.
  • Award-winning customer support available 24/7.
  • Compatible with every major OS.
  • 30-day refund policy.

Cons

  • Some servers are slow.

IPVanish

IPVanish

IPVanish is always a smart choice to consider when you’re shopping for a VPN service. It is reliable, safe, and fast.

For starters, the company does not keep records of your data or online activity. That is really important because it is headquartered in the United States, a country with data retention laws. It means that the government can ask for user data at any time, and IPVanish must comply.

This is a huge drawback and a potential deal-breaker. But while some might consider opting out of registering, remember that this service has a zero-logging policy, which means any information it provides is minimal.

On a more positive note, the company operates over 1,200 speedy servers across 60+ countries, which isn’t bad at all. It is also optimized for Kodi. AS for the encryption, it’s none other than the AES 256-bit protocol.

Get IPVanish

Top VPN Provider

7-day Money-Back Guarantee

Pros

  • Kodi-optimization.
  • Fast speed rates.
  • Decent server network.
  • No-logs policy.
  • Military-grade encryption.
  • Up to ten device connections at the same time.
  • Allows P2P and torrenting activities.

Cons

  • US-based.
  • No Netflix support.
  • Short 7-day money-back guarantee.

BulletVPN

BulletVPN-logo-1

BulletVPN is the youngest member on my list. But don’t think this service lacks any experience. You might be put off by its small server network, but you should note that the servers are located in key points like the US, the UK, Spain, Germany, and Australia.

Besides, the company offers a lot of top-notch features like ‘blazing fast speeds,’ live-chat customer support, zero-logs policy, military-grade encryption, and much more.

This is a very trustworthy service to consider, and it would have claimed a higher position on this list had it not been for its limited network coverage.

Get BulletVPN

Top VPN Provider

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Pros

  • 256-bit AES encryption.
  • Support for PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, IKEv1, and IKEv2.
  • Free Smart DNS proxy.
  • Compatible with iOS, Windows, Mac, and Android.
  • Round-the-clock customer service.
  • 30-day refund program.
  • No logs stored.
  • Five simultaneous device connections.
  • Fast servers.

Cons

  • 52 servers in 30 countries.

NFL Game Pass Compatible Devices

You can watch every game live on NFL Game Pass using any of the following devices:

  • iPhone (iOS 10+)
  • iPad (iOS 10+)
  • Android smartphones and tablets (6.0+)
  • Fire TV
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Roku
  • PS4
  • Xbox

Things to Know About NFL 2019/2020

The referee blew the first whistle of the 2019/2020 season on Thursday night, as the Green Bay Packers kicked off their campaign with a morale-boosting win over NFC rivals Chicago Bears. The game ended with a 10-3 win for the visitors.

The match, which is the league’s longest-running rivalry, opened week one of the 100th edition of the NFL. To commemorate the centennial event, the national football League decided to schedule a “big” match each week.

Week GameSignificance
1Packers vs. BearsLeague’s longest-running rivalry
2Browns vs. JetsFirst ‘Monday Night Football’ contest
3Dolphins vs. CowboysSuper Bowl VI
4Chargers vs. DolphinsEpic in Miami
5Bills vs. TitansMusic City Miracle
6Giants vs. PatriotsSuper Bowls XLII and XLVI
7Raiders vs. PackersSuper Bowl II
8Packers vs. ChiefsSuper Bowl I
9Vikings vs. ChiefsSuper Bowl IV
10Falcons vs. SaintsRivalry game
11Patriots vs. EaglesSuper Bowls XXXIX and LII
12Raiders vs. JetsHeidi Game
1349ers vs. RavensSuper Bowl XLVII (The Harbaugh Bowl)
14Bengals vs. BrownsBattle of Ohio
15Colts vs. SaintsSuper Bowl XLIV
16Raiders vs. ChargersRivalry game, Holy Roller play

The regular season will end on December 29, while Super Bowl LIV is scheduled for February 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

The New England Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions, having won the championship game three times since 2015.

It will be tough to predict a winner this season with such a stern competition between the sides. The Patriots, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams all have a chance, but my bet is on the Chiefs.


Bypass NFL Game Blackouts – Wrapping up

Cord cutters can stream the 2019/2020 season on several streaming channels. But for all the exclusive replays, shows, build-ups, predictions, analysis, and more, NFL Game Pass is your number one pick.

Unfortunately, local US viewers won’t be able to watch any of 256 games live due to blackout restrictions. Only subscribers to the international NFL Game Pass can witness all the action as it happens. Therefore, American residents must sign up for that version instead.

And the only way to do that is with a virtual private network. Simply connect to any foreign server, register to the international Pro plan, and enjoy every game live from anywhere. Just keep in mind that it’s pricier than the local one.

Have you ever streamed NFL games on NFL Game Pass? Did you use a VPN? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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Ralph Peterson

Ralph was bitten by the tech bug from an early age. Today, he is a cybersecurity geek who is obsessed with online privacy. Peterson is also a hardcore streamer of the latest TV shows and sports tournaments. We constantly hear him shouting at his screen whenever there's a live Premier League match (or a bad ending to a TV series like GoT).

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