Expedient Memes

Jan 10 2014

How to stream live NFL playoff games: VPN + NFL Game Pass

Do you love football but hate making the monopolist cable companies rich? Maybe you’ve cut the cord and are enjoying more value from your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. Yet, there’s a darkness inside of you - an emptiness that can only be filled by the NFL.

I mean… let’s take a moment to rejoice in this weekend’s schedule:

AFC fans are fortunate in that Indianapolis at New England, San Diego at Denver, and the AFC Championship game next week will be streamed on CBS. However, NFC fans get no love, as New Orleans at Seattle, San Francisco at Carolina, and the NFC Championship game will be broadcast on Fox and will not be available for free streaming.

In this post, I will show you how to live-stream all NFL playoff games from within the US, with what I think is a better experience than CBS will provide. The NFL has a juicy product called “Game Pass" with all these features:

NFL Game Pass sounds excellent, but it’s not available within the US. We lowly Americans, the inventors of the sport, are limited to an alternative product called “Game Rewind” for on-demand viewing after the game has already ended and our dumbass buddy contaminated us with a text message of the final score.

However, by following these steps, you can make NFL Game Pass think you’re located abroad and stream the games in real-time:

1. Register for a VPN account with privateinternetaccess.com

A VPN encrypts your connection to the internet and provides you with an anonymous IP address in a location of your choosing. It’s this second feature that we’ll use to get content that’s available outside the US. Alternatively, those who are in fact outside the US could use this VPN service to get a US-based IP address for the free CBS-streamed games and other US-based content like Hulu or UK-based content like the BBC.

privateinternetaccess.com is the best VPN service I’ve used. Their software is user-friendly and is well supported on mobile devices. You can try their service over the next month of games for only $6.95. For the best value, you can get a year of service for $39.95. I use their VPN service throughout the year for privacy, for secure browsing on public wifi networks in airports and coffee shops, and to get the NFL and UK-based BBC content. As you know, especially if your team is no longer in the hunt, the NFL 2014 season is just 8 months away and this technique will give us live-streaming of any game, the NFL RedZone and NFL Network throughout the regular season.

2. Install the privateinternetaccess (PIA) software on your computer, phone or tablet.

PIA has great instructions on how to do this. Feel free to ask in the comments if you have any questions. For Windows users, you will download the installer from the link that PIA sends to your email or from this page. Next, run the installer app:

Afterward, the PIA app will automatically launch asking for your username and password (which you will receive in an email from PIA):

Once you authenticate, the PIA app can be found in your Windows taskbar:

It will be colored red when not in use. To select a region through which to VPN, simply right-click the PIA app to choose from where to connect:

3. Register for NFL Game Pass

The link for NFL Game Pass will only work from outside the US. I selected a connection in Romania to get a better price on NFL Game Pass. Here is how the NFL Game Pass price varies by region (in order of increasing price):

  • Hong Kong: $39.99
  • Romania: $39.99
  • Sweden: 264.99 Krona = $40.83
  • France: 34.99 Euro = $47.80
  • Germany: 34.99 Euro = $47.80
  • Netherlands: 34.99 Euro = $47.80
  • UK: $49.99
  • Canada: $54.99
  • Switzerland: Not available

NOTE: the price changes as the number of remaining games decreases. Before the wild card round, Game Pass was $69.99 in Romania. I expect it to be cheaper after this weekend but before the conference championship games.

I paid using Paypal because when I tried to pay with a credit card the NFL website crashed. I verified that my credit card did not get charged despite the site crash, and it may not happen to you, but Paypal is what worked for me.

4. Launch Game Pass

You can launch Game Pass from a different (non-US) location. I found that I got less bandwidth (and therefore a lower resolution picture) through the Romanian connection than through connections in Canada and the UK.

5. Enjoy

In particular, I like the NFL Network pregame shows, reviewing the games from the wild card round in condensed view (to watch the game in 30 minutes), watching the coach’s view for particular plays, and reviewing the NFL RedZone presentation of Week 17.

I connect my laptop to my TV via HDMI to put the game on my wall. I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. Please let me know if you have difficulty with any particular step.

Go Chargers!

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Jun 24 2011

Gross anatomy: Getting to fundable

Naval Ravikant of AngelList and Venture Hacks gave an excellent keynote, entitled  ”The Anatomy of the Fundable Startup,” at last week’s Founder Showcase.  Here’s how the keynote was described on the Founder Institute website:

Naval broke down the 5 main qualities of an “exceptional startup,” in the following order:

  1. Traction
  2. Team
  3. Product
  4. Social Proof
  5. Pitch/Presentation

And while all these qualities are important, Naval explained, the most important thing is to understand that “investors are trying to find the exceptional outcomes, so they are looking for something exceptional about the company. Instead of trying to do everything well (traction, team, product, social proof, pitch, etc), do one thing exceptional. As a startup you have to be exceptional in at least one regard.”

The presentation got me thinking about the strategy by which we can most quickly achieve “fundability” with Coscover.  In other words, what’s the highest-ranked quality in which we can achieve “exceptional” status in the shortest time (and via the highest probability pathway, for those of you playing the risk-adjusted home game).

Re-sorting the qualities by the order in which they are typically achieved, the founder(s) recruits a team to build a product that satisfies a customer need (where satisfaction yields traction in the form of customer adoption and growth).  Before attempting to woo investors, social proof and pitch/presentation skills can also help in recruiting.

For now I’m ignoring distribution, where marketing one’s product to customers could also benefit from social proof and pitch/presentation skills.

If we maximize for the ranking of the quality versus time to achieve that quality, it appears that assembling an exceptional team is the quickest way to become fundable.  What kind of teammates should one recruit?  Of course the details depend on the product being built and the customers being served, but I think the reasons that investors value good teams can give some general guidelines.  A smart, skilled and hard working team is more likely to:

  1. identify an attractive market opportunity,
  2. draft an intelligent strategy by which to capture the opportunity,
  3. build the right product to address the opportunity,
  4. and adjust/pivot until reaching product/market fit.

Founders with domain expertise who have previously served that market are better equipped to succeed in tasks #1 and #2.  If there is any significant product risk, investors will want to see founders who have built a similar product (#3).  Founders who have worked together before are more likely to persist and flex together during pivots (#4).  If all else fails, a good team can be sold to a Google or Facebook to recoup the investment - therefore, a highly technical team in general has more value.

However, what if you can’t build an exceptional team?  Perhaps you’re a first-time founder who lacks social proof.  Maybe you’re missing that “it”-quality to inspire others to join your mission.  What if you have the technical chops to build an exceptional product (or a good product that yields exceptional traction) more quickly than you can assemble an exceptional team?  There is sufficient technological leverage available now that many founders are choosing to go it alone.

One risk that the pre-funded solo founder faces is the temptation to get early revenue by directly engaging early customers in a service relationship.  If skipping the team is simplifying, how much easier would it be to skip the product too?!  Building a general technology solution is wicked hard!  This must be why consulting (and other forms of prostitution) are so popular - one can simply sell oneself as the product.

However, in order to build a scalable business starting with a service business, one has the task of working the process in reverse - first productizing the service then building the business infrastructure (team) to scale the product.  It seems that to be fundable, you eventually need all of the qualities in some degree.

I think the game gets more interesting for companies with an asymmetric business model - where revenue is generated by selling ads to customers trying to reach your users, selling data on your users to your customers, etc.  In principle, exceptional traction in this case means both user adoption and customer engagement or commitment, raising the bar for companies pursuing such a model.  Selling customers on the company’s vision often requires pitch/presentation skills and social proof.

In contrast, investors in the Silicon Valley and SF are more risk tolerant, so companies based there can often raise money based on user traction and the assumption that customers and revenue will emerge later.  I think that in the Bay Area it’s easier to build a company with an asymmetric model than one with a symmetric model that serves the same users, because charging for the product increases the barrier to achieving exceptional user traction.

So what else can you do to accelerate the process of building your company?  If you’re a novice founder, I highly recommend participating in the Founder Institute program.  You will:

  • enhance your pitch/presentation by working with mentors to develop a deeper understanding of your opportunity,
  • begin to build social proof by developing relationships with those mentors,
  • get feedback in the early stages of product development,
  • and perhaps even meet team members through the shared experience.

Feel free to contact me to ask about my experience as a graduate of the Founder Institute program.

I’m a novice founder with modest technical chops living in San Diego.  I had previously made the decision to build the product before assembling the team.  So how did this exercise affect my thinking?  I now plan to devote more time to recruiting!  Coscover will probably focus first on a symmetric model, with a Freemium pricing structure to reduce the barrier to achieving customer traction (primarily because the product becomes more useful with continued use over time - hat tip to Phil Libin of Evernote, who keynoted a previous Founder Showcase).

Finally, I highly recommend watching the presentation by Naval:

1 note  /  

Jun 23 2011

For sale: Procrastination, never read.

I’m a recovering book hoarder.  In a recent purge, I found inspiration in Hemingway’s brilliant piece of flash fiction:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

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