In little over a fortnight, the 2013 NFL season begins. But where will fans in the UK be able to watch it?
This time last year NFL fans in the UK faced real uncertainty over whether there would even be any television coverage of the ever-growing sport.
Sky had allowed their deal to expire, and in a stand-off with the NFL itself, they waited until the week before the season began to announce they would be renewing.
We are now entering the second year of that three-year deal, so there are no such concerns this time around, but there are still questions to be answered.
What we do know
Sky Sports have coverage of every Thursday night game (usually beginning at 1am on a Friday morning in the UK).
Sky Sports also have two games every Sunday night, broadcasting from 6pm – midnight, plus the RedZone feature via the Red Button.
UK users can also watch via SkyGo, although RedZone was not available on SkyGo last season, and there has been no word as to whether it will be this season.
The season opener is the Thursday night game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens.
On opening weekend, Sky have announced their first two live games as Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, followed by Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers.
Week two games have also been confirmed as Thursday night: New York Jets at New England Patriots, and on Sunday; Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears followed by Denver Broncos at New York Giants.
A full schedule of games can be viewed here at NFLUK, which will be updated with television announcements throughout the season.
What is still to be resolved
For the last two seasons, traditional broadcaster of NFL in the UK, Channel Four, has been providing coverage to terrestrial viewers.
Their coverage hosted by Nat Coombs and Mike Carlson is very popular with fans, broadcasting the Sunday night late game (Monday at around 1am in the UK).
Two seasons ago the Monday night game (Tuesday 1am in the UK) was broadcast by ESPN, but last season it was picked up by the BBC. What should have been a success was turned into a disaster, as the BBC stuck it on the ‘red button’ option, meaning fans had no option to record it on a weeknight, only able to watch it live. They also had no hosts, meaning ever break in play was simply covered with screen graphics.
So far neither game slot has been confirmed, although an announcement is due shortly.
Channel 4 co-host Mike Carlson announced on Twitter last week that a decision is imminent, and that ‘UK fans should like it.’ Could both games be on Channel 4?
Keep checking NFLUK for announcements along with us here at HITC Sport.
The alternate option
Available to UK users is the NFL’s Gamepass package.
This allows fans via subscription or a one-off fee to watch every single game live, replayed, or in condensed highlight form on a laptop or portable handheld device.
The package costs £129.99 for the season, also offering RedZone and a number of unique features.
How will you be watching?
image: © pleeker