It was one of the biggest sacrifices for me in moving to China: no more Sunday NFL football. I’ve learned to manage, but along the way I’ve also learned a few ways to get my “fix” of American Football.
If you’re in the same boat and you’re looking for some high quality and/or cheap options for watching football in China, look no further. I’m certain that at least one of these 5 methods will suit your needs.
Let’s start with the easiest (which isn’t always the cheapest) and work our way down from there.
#1 Buy NFL Gamepass
If you’re an avid football fan, the NFL Gamepass is probably your best bet. It’s a bit expensive (plans start at $29.99 for one team all the way up to $69.99 for the entire league) but it’s the most comprehensive option.
You can’t watch live games but Gamepass allows you to download games to watch anytime you want. The All-Access Pass even gives you the ability to download and watch playoff games and the Super Bowl.
The only catch is that technically they only serve the US and Mexico market. So what to do in China? That’s where a VPN comes in handy. I personally use ExpressVPN (see my review of ExpressVPN here) that makes it seem like my computer is located in the US and then I’m able to download and watch the games.
#2 Buy a Game on iTunes
The next best option is to buy an NFL game on iTunes. It’s cheap at only $2.99 per game, the only problem is that you don’t have the option to buy any game you want.
I use this anytime I just want to download a game on my iPad while traveling. I usually look up the NFL Game of the Week and download the latest one. Sometimes I could care less about the particular teams that are playing but usually the game is pretty good if it’s been chosen as the Game of the Week.
Usually this doesn’t require a VPN but there are times that China does make this slow and problematic. Downloading a game could take as long as an hour.
#3 Watch via ESPN
If you or one of your family members have a major cable provider like Verizon FIOS, Comcast, AT&T, etc., and they are willing to trust you with their login information, you can watch live games (being broadcast by ESPN only) on the WatchESPN app.
I’ve had moderate success with this option. It requires me to get up at odd hours of the day to watch, but in this way I have access not only to NFL games but also to college games and tons of other sports. Thank heaven for ESPN!
Again, ESPN restricts content based on geolocation, so you will need a VPN like ExpressVPN (save 30% off an annual plan with this link) or VyprVPN (save 50% off your first month here) to watch through the app.
#4 Setup a Slingbox
Ah yes, the Slingbox. For those who don’t know, a Slingbox connects to your TV and allows you to watch anything from your TV on your computer or mobile device. Newer versions even allow you to DVR the content to watch later. There’s not even a monthly subscription…I love it!
My in-laws have a spare cable box that I connect to my Slingbox. I’m then able to open up the Slingbox app on my iPad and watch a live game.
#5 Streaming TV Options
Finally, there is the option of trying to stream the TV station where the game is being broadcast. Now if you search on Google you’re going to come across hundreds of terrible “streaming” sites that either want you to download their specific player (don’t do it!) or subject you to an unbelievable amount of ads. It’s ridiculous.
The best option I’ve come across to stream TV is USTVNow. While they are a paid service (as much as $30/mo), they do offer a free subscription that gives you access to a few limited channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) at a lower quality. It’s not the end all solution, but it’s worth trying since it’s free.
Best of all, you won’t need a VPN to connect here. 🙂
There are plenty of ways to watch NFL in China or anywhere in the world. Most of the time you’ll need to pay for high quality and often you’ll need to invest in a good VPN.
Either way, enjoy your football and don’t wake up your neighbors at 3am in the morning!