PLEASE NOTE: For the 2018 season, NFL GamePass Europe has changed the way they handle blackouts. In addition to connecting via a VPN, You must now also register and pay while connected via a VPN, and using an European address and credit card. You will need to register for an EU Mail Forwarding address, and pay with a Pre-Paid Visa or MasterCard registered at that address. We will be updating our guide to explain how to do this shortly.
NFL Game Pass is the NFL’s premium streaming service for fans outside of the USA. It allows fans to watch most NFL games live and in HD, receive NFL Network content and watch NFL RedZone and NFL Network Live as well. It is a paid service, costing around £100 per year. You can read our full review here.
Given the high price, many fans are therefore very disappointed, and annoyed to discover that two live games per week and the entire NFL Playoffs are subject to blackouts—games which are not available to watch live in the UK. Users in Canada are subject to similar blacklouts. Blackouts are caused by the NFL’s exclusive partnership with regional TV partners, meaning that the games showing on Sky Sports are not allowed to be broadcast live by anyone else in the UK, including the NFL themselves, via Game Pass.
This means if you are a fan of a team regularly featured by Sky as either of their main games, you are going to have to shell out for a Sky Sports subscription in addition to your Game Pass subscription if you want to watch all of your teams regular season games. And if your team makes the playoffs, Sky Sports is the only place you can see your team live in the UK.
Worse still, the service is not even available in the USA at all, leaving fans wishing to watch teams outside of their own local area tied to expensive Cable TV Packages with add-ons like NFL Sunday Ticket.
Fortunately, NFL Game Pass is also available in countries with no blackout restrictions, so streams for all of the games do exist, you just need to convince the website or app you’re allowed to access them.
For the 2018 season, you must use a VPN service, and a registered address and pre-paid credit card from a country without blackouts. We recommend connecting to a VPN in Germany, and using the mail forewarding and pre-paid MasterCard services we describe below.
Out Recommended VPN:
HideMyAss VPN*: HideMyAss (HMA) is one of the earliest and most well-known servers used to hide internet traffic. Although it offers a free web proxy service, it is their VPN server which will allow you to unblock NFL Game Pass, and other streaming services. HMA offer over 940 VPN servers in 350 locations around the world. They offer over 120,000+ IP addresses in total, so if one ever gets flagged and will not allow you to log in to GamePass, simply choose another, and away you go. HMA is fast enough for most streaming, easy to use and effective, with great customer support. HMA offer at IP Addresses in every state in the USA, ensuring you can access local news and information for you favourite team, with no problems.
How does it work?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network is a secure way of connecting to a local network via the internet. Primarily, they are used in business to allow employees access to their secure network while working away from the office, but have recently seen growth both in online gaming and as a means of unblocking websites and services which are unavailable in certain regions.
This works because once connected to the VPN, all outside traffic is routed through the VPN Server. Therefore, if you connect to a VPN based, such as in the Netherlands, as you browse the internet, websites will treat your computer as if was physically connected to that router in the Netherlands.
An easy, if imperfect, analogy is to imagine that it turns your internet connection into one long ethernet cable, directly plugged into a router in another location.
There are two main types of VPN service, OpenVPN and PPTP, though there are other protocols also available. PPTP is supported by default on most operating systems, phones and tablets, but is an older protocol, which has some serious drawbacks. OpenVPN is a newer protocol, but is not supported out of the box by most operating systems and devices, and needs extra software, which may not be available for all devices. Most VPN providers offer both options, but this is not always the case.
VPN servers can be both free and paid, with varying levels of support, options and speed.
Unblock Virtually Anything – VPN services are very useful for accessing all kinds of blocked sites, not just NFL Game Pass. Because all content is being routed through an internet connection in another country, all content available in that country should be available to you. This can be useful for unblocking services like Hulu based in the USA, or accessing BitTorrent trackers recently blocked at an ISP level.
Boost Privacy and Security – Additionally, VPN servers theoretically offer vastly increased security and privacy. Because all traffic is routed through the VPN server, the website or service you are accessing should never be able to see your IP address, and link your online activity back to you. In practice, this is not always the case, depending on how the VPN servers are configured, and the logs the VPN server keep, but at least in theory, you have added privacy.
Appear to be Located Anywhere – Finally, most paid VPN servers give you a great deal of choice as to where in the world you want to seem to be located, with servers all over the world. This allows you to take advantage of offers, services and sites limited to certain countries. You can connect, for example, to a Dutch VPN to unblock a blacked out game on Game Pass, and then re-connect to a US based server to watch some shows on Hulu.
Speed – There is a performance hit just by using a VPN, as it uses is a secure, encrypted connection, so all data sent over it needs to be encrypted and decrypted. Typically, even the best VPN servers result in a 20% reduction in your broadband speed.
Also, as all the traffic, of all the users connected to that server, is coming through that single connection, streaming video can be painfully slow on cheaper or free services during busy times. Again as an analogy, imagine you can stream quite happily with one or two computers connected to your home network, but once you have four or five computers, phones etc all connected, it gets much slower—the same thing can happen with a VPN. Additionally, don’t forget these are used for hiding and unblocking all traffic (including increasing numbers of people using VPNs for bit torrent downloading). Unfortunately, many of the servers which are useful for unblocking NFL Game Pass are also servers located in countries with relaxed Bit Torrent policies, which tend to be used a lot for bit torrent downloading, a major bandwidth hog.
Free VPNs May Decrease Security and Privacy – FInally, while VPNs theoretically increase privacy and security greatly—and in most cases they do—you are still having to trust the VPN server owner not to be logging your usage. Because everything you do is sent via their servers, some free VPN servers have been known to be set up and used by less than scrupulous people, who have used them to steal your personal information, log your activity and even gain control of your computer. Remember, connecting to a VPN can be like being attached to the same local network as everyone else connected to the same server. If not properly configured, you could be exposing the contents your computer to a lot of people when you connect to a free VPN service.
Put simply, we do not recommend free VPN services, and would not suggest they are a good way to unblock NFL Game Pass or any other paid service. We would also never input a username or password while connected to a free VPN.
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