There is lots to cheer for the NFL supporting British fan as news broke overnight that NFL Gamepass are freezing the price for their top “pro” package in 2018.
There will also be changes to the package structure with the “Essential” package losing its live game component and the cancellation of the starter package.
NFL Gamepass did extensive research in the off-season and lots of user surveys. I was one of those interviewed and I can tell you that it wasn’t just a rate our service and vote on the changes you’d like!
A season in review
Last season wasn’t without problems for the organisation and I wrote in depth about the problems in a number of articles. They had problems initially when they took over running the service, they also had serious problems in the first quarter of the year that resulted in mass refunds being automatically actioned.
When it looked like things couldn’t get worse for the new organisation a scandal broke where it was revealed that they had been leaving 5-star reviews for their own apps.
Thankfully things got better after that and on the whole, the service was very reliable for the second half of the year.
Having had their rookie year, Gamepass now need to move on to justify the NFL’s ‘pick’ of them as a supplier.
Like all new players, what they need to get right most are the basics. Forget the fancy features that only a few will use and concentrate on getting the service reliable. This is on all their platforms, PC, Phone Apps, Xbox, PS4 and smart TVs. They’ve finally delivered on the long-awaited XBOX and PS4 apps and I’m sure they’ve learnt a valuable lesson about overpromising and under-delivery.
So looking forward to 2018 how are the packages shaping up?
This is the premium product and includes all of the Gamepass content with the headline feature being access to all the games live. In the UK there is an exception to that and those are the two games broadcast by Sky in their 6pm and 9pm Sunday slots. Users have to wait 24 hours after the end of the game to watch those two. This is a thorn in the side for NFL fans in the UK, many of whom keep a Sky subscription to bridge this gap or the more devious find their PCs moving to a different country on Sundays to avoid geographical restrictions! Unfortunately, this one won’t be solved by Gamepass, only by the NFL when they negotiate an extension of Sky’s rights to future game broadcasts.
There is no better way to get your football fix than the Pro package. Beyond the games themselves there are a myriad of shows available to watch such as ‘Hard Knocks’, ‘A Football Life’ and ‘Undrafted’.
Although emails went out to existing subscribers about the price freeze it wasn’t made clear if the price they pay for 2018 will be the same as the list price in 2017 (£139.99) or the same as they paid last year. Some were given loyalty discounts.
Edit: I am told nobody received loyalty discounts last year but unless my memory serves me incorrectly, I heard users expressing the opposite view. What was your experience?
You can purchase the ‘Pro’ package on a weekly basis at £14.99.
When Gamepass launched ‘Essential’ last year it included access to Sunday’s ‘Red Zone’ – “7 hours of uninterrupted football”, brought to you by the energy bunny, Scott Hanson. Live NFL Network and access to all the games in condensed form known as ‘Game-in-40’. It also included one game live in the 6pm or 9pm slot on Sundays. This was of their choosing, rather than a follow your team option.
In 2018 the live game is gone, however the price of the package is reduced. This is a good move, I just hope they keep the live NFL Network feed.
Subscribers who had Essential last year and auto-renewed were given the ‘Pro’ package for last year’s Essential price.
Edit: I have received confirmation that Essential will still include the 24/7 live stream of NFL Network. As the Essential package is changing, existing subscribers will be offered the chance to move to the Pro product at a discounted price.
Edit: For some reason, the below option for Essential was removed from the plans page for a short time yesterday, replaced by an even cheaper price and then it was put back up. As the Americans would say, “Go Figure!”
The ‘Starter’ package is no longer in the 2018 playbook. The previous package gave ‘Redzone’ and live NFL Network but no access to live or on-demand games.
Subscribers who had ‘Starter’ last season were auto-renewed to the Essential plan for the price they paid last year.
Edit: Existing subscribers to the Starter package will be offered incentives to upgrade to one of the other packages.
September Edit: Details have now been announced for the introductory plan and it’s great news for people who follow football but can’t afford the Pro or Essential packages (or already have Sky and don’t want the live games). The new package is FREE and offers NFL Network plus game highlights.
There will be another package which is currently under development. I hope it’s a follow-your-team option but strongly I suspect not. Either way, I really hope they get this announced before the auto-renewal window opens. Many users were rightly annoyed last season when they made decisions on renewing packages when not all the information was made available to them.
Prior to the new organisation taking over it was possible to pay for the package with instalments. This option was removed last year for new subscribers and it is one that should be reinstated as it will help many to manage to find the sums needed that would otherwise be impossible as a one-off payment.
Edit: Subscribers to the ‘Pro’ package can pay in 4 equal monthly instalments (without a mark up for the privilege). Game Pass had issues processing renewal payments, detailed here.
No news yet, however, users are pushing for 4K content as their favourite add-on. Let us know what you’d like to see and we can see if we can apply pressure to the developers.
The decision to not increase prices is a good one and will go some way to repairing the damage done to the products’ reputation during last season. I think Gamepass have really taken on-board the comments from the user surveys and interviews and I fully expect his year to be a solid return for the best platform an NFL fan needs.
Edit: Some European countries have had price reductions to rectify regional pricing differences with (Pro).