I’m no UI designer by any means. Probably the exact opposite, actually. Despite this, I do recognize ease-of-use with my background in product management and analysis. There are many streaming video services around, and they’re all quite decent, but none of them are as bad as NFL Gamepass. Gamepass is, by far, the biggest pile of shit ever and it’s $99 for a year.
I’ll start at the beginning. NFL Gamepass is a streaming service that contains all NFL (National Football League) games. Their selling point is that you can watch a full game without ads, or a condensed version of a game where any fluff between plays is removed and you can watch an entire game in roughly 40 minutes. This is different than NFL RedZone. There is one caveat: you most likely can’t watch your local team’s game when it’s live because of broadcasting rights. Generally, you can only watch it a few hours after it’s over. That’s a start.
Gamepass is built on the NFL website. It’s not even its own entity. This is a problem because when you browse to nfl.com/gamepass and you’re presented with a signup or sign-in page, which happens every time because it loads the page before it reads your session. If you’re someone who likes to avoid knowing the outcome of a game before you get a chance to watch it yourself, this gives you an opportunity to blow it because highlights and scores are displayed at the top of the page. By the way, there is an option to hide game scores, but you have to be logged in and specifically on the Gamepass page.
If your session happens to be logged in you’re presented with a giant video that starts automatically.
And yes, the live scores display at the bottom, and the commentators do talk about other games. The same applies to the phone:
Mind you, this is the first thing you see when you load the application on any device, so you’re out of luck if your team shows up. If the full game or condensed game isn’t available yet, Gamepass assumes you want to see the game’s highlights.
Those headlines can give away some crucial information you don’t want to know, especially when they read “[insert name here] scores game-winning touchdown”. Oh, and yes, the video also starts automatically so the highlights reel automatically starts. There is no way to turn this feature off. When the video starts off with, “The Broncos beat this team today, let’s go over the highlights,” it’s rage-inducing.
Even if you tell Gamepass to not display the scores, it still shows you the team wins and losses at the top.
Anyone that can do basic math can learn the outcome of the game without actually knowing the outcome. “Let’s see, we had 6 wins last week. This thingy says we have 7 wins now. Therefore, we won a game. Right?”
I will be a little fair and admit the television – specifically, the Roku – works slightly better than the PC, but the “Trending” section appears at the top and you’re shit out of luck if your team is trending because they will show headlines like “Broncos go above .500” and it’s like, “Great, thanks for ruining the surprise.” On the phone, it’s the same way:
I appreciate the ad for a service I already purchased. I’m sure some Colts’ fan dying to watch the game is going to be really happy seeing that headline when first open their NFL Gamepass app. Yes, both prior sentences were 100% sarcasm. And, again, this goes back to the earlier frustration that Gamepass is built on to the NFL website, not its own entity. This applies to the application too: it’s an NFL news application that has Gamepass built-in.
I’ve talked a lot about the interface, but not much about the actual streaming video thus far. Here’s a list:
- Games don’t resume where you left off. If you pause the game, watch Netflix or something and return, you have to start over.
- Can’t switch a game between devices nor can you “send” or “stream” to another device (i.e. watching on the phone and want to send to TV. Works for YouTube and basically every app ever, but not NFL Gamepass).
- The streaming quality is at 720p. If I catch it on live antenna television, the quality is drastically better.
- The video will seize up at least once every game and give you a buffer error, which leads to point # 1 again where you have to start from the beginning
Also, it’s only available on a few platforms. I don’t understand how a company that makes $12 billion in revenue on a bad year, yet can have such a pile of shit representing their brand for streaming capabilities. The worst part is I keep buying it every year hoping there will be some improvements. I have yet to see any, which leads me to wonder if anyone is actually working on it.
Enough complaining. Here’s what I propose in fixing it because nothing bothers me more when people complain about a product or service with zero constructive criticism:
- Make NFL Gamepass it’s own URL. You have $12 billion to spend on a $12/year domain. Your video infrastructure is already paid for, so just migrate it.
- Save my session. I shouldn’t need to click “Sign in” every time and then have my session connect if I’m already logged in. If I need to log in, then tell me to log in.
- Don’t display scores or highlights by default on the main page. If a person isn’t signed in, give them a chance to do so and highlight the benefits of the service on the main page.
- Have another option for “Gamepass Today”. It’s a good feature to display all the game highlights, but don’t have it as the default home page for everyone.
- Save where I left off on a game, so I can resume from any device, including the same one, later.
- If the full or condensed games(s) aren’t available yet, please don’t show me highlights by default. Just tell me the game isn’t available yet. If I want to watch highlights, then give me the option to do so.
- Fix streaming rights. I should be able to watch my home team live if I pay for the service to watch them.
- After login, display the user’s “Favorite team” game replays. You make us define a favorite team when setting up an account and then do literally nothing else with it.