I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this NFL Preseason Live iPad app since the NFL announced it earlier this summer. NFL Preseason Live is a product I’ve invested in for the last few years and it’s fantastic in the browser, so my expectations for an iPad app were pretty high.
UPDATE: Price has been reduced to $9.99. It should continue to drop by $5 per week for the rest of the preseason.
The app hit the App Store this morning with the full NFL Preseason schedule getting underway tomorrow night. The app itself is no additional charge, but you need a subscription to NFL Preseason Live ($19.99) to access the content. You can signup at NFL.com or you can do so within the app itself.
(If you are unfamiliar with NFL Preseason Live, check out our review of the product)
When you first open the app you’ll need to accept the prompt for location services, otherwise the app may not work for you. I disabled it out of habit and wasn’t able to sign in until I enabled it. (I actually deleted the app and re-installed) I assume this feature is necessary to verify your location since the NFL Preseason Live service is only available in the U.S. and it’s territories.
If you aren’t sure about signing up, you can actually watch free for 2 minutes per day. It’s not much, but at least you can jump in and get a sense of the product before purchasing, which is more than you can say for some digital products.
When you get logged in, you’ll find a very nicely designed interface. The scores are turned off by default to prevent any spoilers. Schedules are displayed along the left panel and to watch a game you simply select it from the menu on the right and it begins to play.
If you are viewing an on-demand game, “Broadcast” and “Condensed” options are displayed along the top of the screen. As you’d probably expect, Broadcast is the full version of the game and “Condensed” is shorten version of the game that cuts out a lot of the extra stuff like walking back to the huddle,etc. It cuts the viewing time down to about 30-45 minutes of actual video. Switching back and forth between the two will start the game back at the beginning rather than jumping you that same location in the other version.
Selecting the calendar icon near the top of the left sidebar of swiping right or left will change the displayed weekly schedule and allow you to watch games from other weeks. You can even go back to previous years and watch archived games.
Turning on the scores also turns on the stats, summary, and play-by-play below the video.
The controls include 10 second jump back and forward and pause along with full screen and the ability to “scrub” the timeline to move forward and back through the video. I found the controls to work smoothly.
What About AirPlay?
Yes, AirPlay is supported. It’s a bit bizarre, but the icon wasn’t appearing for me on first load. After playing with the app for maybe 20-30 minutes and closing out and coming back in a time or two, the icon appeared and it has worked flawlessly for me. The video quality is very good even on a 55 inch TV. For those unaware, AirPlay is an Apple-marketed technology that allows you to stream content wirelessly from your iOS device to an Apple TV device connected to your TV. It does other thing like stream Netflix, but if you own an iPad or iPhone, this functionality alone may make an Apple TV purchase worth your while.
Yes, locally and nationally televised games will be blacked out, but everything is available on demand. Basically, if a game is on TV where you live, it’s blacked out live via NFL Preseason Live.
So far, NFL Preseason Live app is everything I expected. There is still the matter of how well the app handles lives games. I’ll update later this weekend after experiencing some live NFL Preseason action on the iPad. The only lacking feature from the browser version that I’ve detected is that the app doesn’t have the multi-viewer mode that lets you watch more than one game at a time.
Also, kudos to the NFL for providing this product directly to the fans and not doing some “exclusive deal” that locks us into a single provider or TV package and shuts out those that don’t want to pay for other unwanted content.
UPDATE: I’m finding the jump forward and back DVR buttons to be a little on the small side and I often have to tap multiple times to get it to recognize the tap. Either that or it’s a little sluggish in it’s response.
UPDATE 2: The controls are definitely very sluggish in my experience. Tapping the screen to select a new game, pause/play, or jump forward or back has a very noticeable few second delay that is quite frustrating. The app has pushed out two updates since the release, but I haven’t experienced any improved performance. It’s fine if you are simply watching the video straight through, but jumping around is too frustrating within the app and I find myself jumping over the to the browser version when I want to use controls frequently.
UPDATE 3: The sluggish controls appear to have actually been bandwidth issue on my end, not an app issue. After experiencing the issues with sluggishness I tested the download speed and it was very low. The next day my download speed was back to “normal” (around 7MBps) and the controls were working perfectly. They have continued to work perfectly for the next few days.
Note: There is also an Android Tablet version, but I haven’t reviewed it.