You don’t have to wait months or even weeks to watch another professional football game. One week after the Super Bowl, the Alliance of American Football league officially kicks off.
You have every reason to be skeptical. Past attempts to create a major competitor to the NFL have crashed and burned. But this league isn’t like the WWE-created XFL, which failed in 2001 and which will return in 2020, or the old USFL—which featured Donald Trump as a league owner and which ultimately folded in 1986. The old XFL tried to use the same kinds of entertainment choices that made the WWE so popular (more female exploitation and a more obnoxious attitude from the participants, for example). The USFL tried to compete head-to-head against the NFL in getting big-money talent and with a plan to play a fall schedule, directly challenging the NFL.
The AAF will do neither. Games will take place when neither NFL nor college games are scheduled. Its already brought in respected football talent in the various front offices. And it’s set high expectations for the fan experience, particularly through how people can stream the games.
“Television is on a 15- or 20- or 35-second delay, depending on the network,” AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol told the Daily Dot. “On our app, it’s on a 0.4-second delay. It is the fastest delivery of sport with this technology. It’s under a half-second.”
Ebersol said the league is taking a different approach to pro football, and the AAF wants to fully integrate fans into the sporting experience, including how people watch and interact with the games—whether they’re watching in person or via a streaming device.
“We raised a lot of our money from our tech investors in Silicon Valley around the idea that if you integrate people into a league fully, you can drill down and you can build something nobody else has done,” Ebersol said. “We’ve committed a lot of time and resources to doing that. We’re very excited about what’s coming.” Here’s everything you need to know about the Alliance of American Football.
What is Alliance of American Football?
In March 2018, Ebersol, a filmmaker, and Bill Polian—a former NFL general manager and one of the most well-respected executives in football—announced the establishment of the AAF. The league features talented players and coaches, many of them former college standouts, who are not quite ready for the NFL or looking for a second chance.
The AAF’s inaugural season begins Feb. 9. It’s a 10-week season, with four weekly games (and two teams on bye), and it’ll be capped off by a four-team playoff that will culminate in the championship game on April 27 in Las Vegas.
To be clear, the AAF isn’t trying to compete with the NFL. Instead, the AAF wants to act as its partner, helping, for example, to spotlight breakout talent. In fact, AAF games will actually be shown on NFL Network (more on that later).
“Our whole goal is just to be complementary,” former NFL star receiver Hines Ward, who will act as a player relations executive with the AAF, told CBS Sports. “With our league, it’s only going to put out a better product for the NFL. We’re giving them extra eyes and extra film.”
If you’re an NFL fan, you’ve likely heard many of the names associated with the league: former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick (offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Legends), Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary (coach of the Memphis Express), eventual Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu (head of player relations), and college and NFL coaching extraordinaire Steve Spurrier (coach of the Orlando Apollos).
— Michael Vick (@MichaelVick) January 25, 2019
It also features former college stars that didn’t have the most prosperous of NFL careers, like running back Trent Richardson, running back Bishop Sankey, and quarterback Aaron Murray.
“I have something to prove,” Richardson told WBRC. “Prove to myself, as well as everybody else, that I can still be an effective player in the NFL.”
That’s likely what most everybody in the league is playing—for a chance to get to the NFL.
Alliance of American Football teams
There are eight teams featuring 50 players per roster. Here is the list of AAF teams:
- Arizona Hotshots
- Atlanta Legends
- Birmingham Iron
- Memphis Express
- Orlando Apollos
- Salt Lake Stallions
- San Antonio Commanders
- San Diego Fleet
How to watch Alliance of American Football online
The AAF has scored a broadcast deal with CBS Sports. The inaugural game will be broadcast on CBS’ main network, as will the championship game in April. The CBS Sports Network will air one AAF game per week. And the games will take less time to watch. That’s because there will be no TV timeouts and 60 percent fewer commercials, and kickoffs and extra point attempts will be eliminated.
1) CBS All Access
- Cost: $4.99 per month (after 7-day free trial)
- Devices: Roku, Apple TV, Android and Android TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, select smart TVs
The weekly contests will be streamed on the CBS All Access app, the network’s new standalone app, which costs $5.99 per month for streaming with ads and $9.99 a month for streaming without. CBS All Access opens up the channel’s entire catalog of on-demand programming, letting you watch all of your favorite CBS shows, exclusives like Star Trek: Discovery and the forthcoming Twilight Zone reboot, and live TV. (You can also add CBS All Access as an Amazon Prime channel.)
All four weekly games will also be available to stream on CBS Sports Network on the live TV streaming services DirecTV Now, Hulu, FuboTV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV. Each service differs significantly when it comes to what other channels are offered, which devices you can use to stream, and how much each one costs. (You can click the links on each service name to learn more about each one.)
2) The AAF app
You can reportedly stream AFF games through the league’s official app, which was supposed to be made available on iOS and Android devices after the Super Bowl. (It’s not yet live in the Google Play or App Store.) This is the same stream that only has the previously mentioned 0.4-second delay. According to the AAF website, the app will work with the following devices:
iPhones: 6, 6 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, XS. The app may also be compatible with other iPhones, but it has not been optimized for those devices. Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Galaxy S8 Note, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, Galaxy S9 Note. The app may also be compatible with other Android smartphones, such as Google Pixel, Motorola Moto, and LG smartphones.
The AAF official app should also available on iPads and Android tablets, but beware that the “user interface has not been design[ed] or optimized for these devices.” You don’t need a subscription to access the AAF app.
3) NFL Network
Only eight days before the start of the season, the AAF announced NFL Network will broadcast 19 games in 2019. Beginning on Feb. 16, the network will broadcast two games per weekend, all of which will start at 8pm ET.
“NFL Network understands the mission and vision for The Alliance and what we are trying to accomplish,” Ebersol said in a statement. “This partnership will now keep professional football in its primetime television spot, allowing fans to continue watching America’s most popular sport well into the spring.”
Here’s the NFL Network schedule.
- Sunday, Feb. 10 – Salt Lake Stallions at Arizona Hotshots
- Saturday, Feb. 16 – Arizona Hotshots at Memphis Express
- Sunday, Feb. 17 – Atlanta Legends at San Diego Fleet
- Saturday, Feb. 23 – Memphis Express at Orlando Apollos
- Sunday, Feb. 24 – San Antonio Commanders at San Diego Fleet
- Saturday, March 2 – San Diego Fleet at Memphis Express
- Sunday, March 3 – Atlanta Legends at Arizona Hotshots
- Saturday, March 9 – Salt Lake Stallions at San Diego Fleet
- Sunday, March 10 – San Antonio Commanders at Arizona Hotshots
- Saturday, March 16 – Arizona Hotshots at Orlando Apollos
- Sunday, March 17 – Birmingham Iron at San Diego Fleet
- Saturday, March 23 – Salt Lake Stallions at San Antonio Commanders
- Sunday, March 24 – Birmingham Iron at Memphis Express
- Saturday, March 30 – San Diego at Salt Lake Stallions
- Sunday, March 31 – Arizona Hotshots at San Antonio Commanders
- Saturday, April 6 – San Diego Fleet at Orlando Apollos
- Sunday, April 7 – Birmingham Iron at Arizona Hotshots
- Saturday, April 13 – Atlanta Legends at Memphis Express
- Sunday, April 14 – Arizona Hotshots at San Diego Fleet
Other ways to watch AAF games
TNT and B/R Live
In addition, TNT and B/R Live will broadcast one AAF regular-season and one playoff game through the length of their multi-year agreement, and one regular-season game per week will be streamed on B/R Live.
The best way to watch AAF games: FuboTV
- Cost: $39.99 for your first month and $44.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
With more than 85 channels in its basic package, FuboTV includes almost everything you’ll need to watch AAF games—CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, and TNT—and a ton of other specialty sports channels, including beIN Sports, NBA TV, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, and even a 4K FS1 channel. It’s a dream package for international soccer, but there’s truly something for everyone, with news (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), entertainment (FX, Lifetime, AMC), and plenty more. Of note for sports fans, FuboTV offers automatic three-day replay for games and 30 hours of free cloud DVR. (Here’s the complete FuboTV channels list.)
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