Are you ready for some football?
After a rather dramatic offseason — see: Deflategate — the NFL is gearing up for another exciting campaign this week. The 2014-15 season officially kicks off Thursday with a Steelers vs. Patriots matchup and really gets going on Sunday, when millions of Americans will camp out on their couches and enjoy some good ol’ pigskin.
As usual, there are plenty of storylines to follow this year. How will Tom Brady and the Pats respond on the field to the Deflategate mess? Will the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl and get vengeance for last year’s disaster? Who will have the better rookie season: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota?
I’m also looking forward to seeing how technology is used on and off the field, whether it’s predicting fantasy football stats, streaming live games, following the action on Twitter, accessing never-before-seen stats, or utilizing tablets on the sidelines.
We’ve rounded up some football tech tips to help you get the most out of the 2015 season — check them out below:
There are more ways to stream live games than ever. If you’re willing to pay, DirecTV has a Sunday Ticket service that starts at $200 and lets you stream every Sunday afternoon out-of-market game on your phone, tablet, or laptop. If you pay an extra $60, you can watch with an Xbox, PlayStation, or Roku. If you want access to all devices, it’s another $100 on top of that — so $360 total. Those attending one of 2,000 universities can get the service for as low as $100 a year.
Update: You can subscribe to the streaming Sunday Ticket service only if you’re in an area without access to DirecTV’s satellite broadcasts. If you do have access, you’ll need to subscribe to a DirecTV package. However, I was able to purchase the streaming service even though I’m eligible for normal DirecTV, so I’d recommend checking online just to be sure.
Verizon, meanwhile, is allowing all customers — not just those with certain packages, like in the past — to stream Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football games, in addition to “local Sunday NFL games” via its NFL Mobile app for smartphones (tablets not included). There is no extra cost to stream the games, but those without unlimited data packages should watch how much they are streaming.
If you’re willing to wait to watch the action after live games are completed, the NFL this season is offering a new $99 Game Pass, which lets fans watch all 256 regular season games in HD after they are completed. Game Pass also lets you listen to games live and includes exclusive video content not available elsewhere.
Those living outside the U.S., Mexico, Bermuda, Antigua, and the Bahamas can use NFL Game Pass to not only watch on-demand game replays, but actual live games. Although a bit risky, you can try using a VPN to make it appear like you’re not in the U.S. the other countries noted. Some popular VPNs include Hola, TunnelBear, or Cloak. Note that Canada, the UK, and Republic of Ireland have certain blackout restrictions for those using Game Pass.
CBS is also streaming four playoff games, Super Bowl 50, and two regular season games for free. Yahoo is streaming the Oct. 25 game between Buffalo and Jacksonville after it signed a deal with the NFL in June worth a reported $20 million.
For Sunday Night Football, NBC will be streaming its weekly game online here. The network did so in the past for free — no cable subscription needed — so we’ll see if the same holds true this season.
Finally, you can always snag an over-the-air antenna to access games on local TV channels like CBS, NBC, and Fox.
There are plenty of ways to stay up-to-date with the NFL on your phone or tablet. For starters, there’s NFL Mobile, available for iOS, Android, and Windows. The NFL’s main app has a little bit of everything — highlights, news, statistics, standings, etc. — and the NFL Game Pass features we noted above can be accessed through the NFL Mobile app.
The ESPN App is also another good one for keeping up with scores and news. Microsoft, meanwhile, updated its NFL App for the Xbox One and Windows to include “Next Gen Stats” generated by RFID chips worn by NFL players. Other favorites include Bleacher Report’s Team Stream, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports Mobile, theScore, and 365Scores.
Each team has its own individual app, too, so make sure you check those out if you’re looking for team-specific news and updates.
If you’re looking for advice for your lineup, Bing is using its predictive algorithms to project weekly stats and offer advice. NFL.com also has a player comparison engine powered by SAP. And keep an eye on Edge Up Sports, which is using IBM Watson technology to analyze player projections.
There’s nothing like actually being at an NFL game and fans have a number of resources online to find good deals on tickets — particularly if you’re willing to wait until the last second to purchase. There are the popular ones — NFL Ticket Exchange, StubHub, Craigslist — but lesser-known options include SeatGeek, Vivid Seats, RazorGator, TicketCity, and TickPick.