- 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 2020/2021 season
The NFL 2020/2021 season is finally here, and boy are we excited. The 101st edition kicked off in style on Thursday night as the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans. Last 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.
- What is NFL Game Pass?
- What are blackout restrictions?
- How to avoid blackouts with a VPN?
- VPN Must-haves
- Are free VPNs safe?
- How to install a VPN
- Best VPNs for NFL Game Pass
- NFL Game Pass compatibility
- About NFL 2020/2021
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.
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.
Any service that claims to be the best in the business must have the following requirements:
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.
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.
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.
- First, as I discussed earlier, you must register to an elite VPN service then download and install its app.
- 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.
- 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.
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’s 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.
- 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.
- The monthly subscription costs $12.95, which is a bit expensive.
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 small network coverage.
- AES-256 encryption.
- No-logs policy.
- Kill switch + BulletShield.
- Fast speeds.
- Unblocks streaming platforms.
- Allows torrenting and P2P.
- Free Smart DNS.
- 30-day refund policy.
- Six simultaneous device collections.
- round-the-clock customer support.
- Smaller server network.
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.
- 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.
- Some servers are slow.
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
Things to Know About NFL 2020/2021
The referee blew the first whistle of the 2020/2021 season on Thursday night, as the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their campaign with a morale-boosting win over Houston Texans. The game ended with a 34-20 win for the visitors. The match opened week one of the 101st edition of the NFL.
The regular season will end on January 3, while Super Bowl LV is scheduled for February 7, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
It will be tough to predict a winner this season with such a stern competition between the sides. The Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams all have a chance, but my bet is on the Chiefs once again.
Bypass NFL Game Blackouts – Wrapping up
Cord cutters can stream the 2020/2021 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.