By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This time of year watching the American NFL (National Football League) in Brazil is a little more complicated because the daylight savings time changes now put Rio three hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). That makes the 1PM kick-off on the East Coast of the U.S. starts at 4PM in Rio, and perhaps more importantly driving the night games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday into late-night affairs.
The sport is still easier to follow in Brazil than it has ever been, with the high-speed internet connections now available, live streaming options like the the official NFL Game Pass (available outside the U.S.) make it surprisingly affordable. There are also various pirate-streaming sites one can uncover, and although lower-quality, they are free for the patient and dedicated.
To make watching NFL even easier in Brazil, the major Brazilian cable networks are airing more and more games on their Sports channels, and with new audio technology it is usually possible to switch to the English-language commentary with the push of a button on the remote control. Off course the NFL will always be a distant second to local futbol (soccer) match schedule, so it’s hard to plan your day around this.
Rich Nelson, an American expatriate and co-owner of the Blue Agave, a popular Mexican bar and eatery in Rio explains, “It seems that NFL continues to gain in popularity [in Brazil] over the past few years. They are now re-running tons of games the Monday after NFL Sunday… although most die hard fans care only about real time action… [There are] also lots more Cariocas following and coming in for games.”
The Blue Agave has two locations, one in Ipanema and one in Copacabana, both owned and managed by American expatriates and dedicated to showing as much NFL action as the local networks offer. Nelson adds, “Fans can look forward to lots of promos during games, happy hour prices, hot wings [are co-owner Jason Galeria’s] specialty.”
Another main-stay for watching the NFL in Rio is Shenanigan’s Irish Pub & Sports Bar in Ipanema. The bar was opened over twelve years ago by a group of American expatriates, but in 2012 was sold to Brazilian owners who fortunately continue to make showing the NFL games a priority.
Opening on Sundays in time for the early games (which start at 4PM after November 2nd this year) with a large projector screen keeps Shenanigan’s the first option for many. They have also kept a major Super Bowl party tradition alive and well (this year will be on February 1st).
Another American-owned establishment in Copacabana is the Clover Irish Pub, which has invested in the ability to not only play whatever games are showing locally, but also – at the same time – stream any game direct from the United States across seven flat screen TVs. For those who want to sit outside and watch the games in the shade, then Mab’s on Copacabana Beach is a great option, also owned by an American expatriate.
There are a few other locations that will show NFL games on occasion, such as the Gringo Cafe, Lord Jim’s Pub, Banana Jack’s and the Mud Bug. It is best to call ahead to make sure there are no conflicts with other sports programming, and plan to arrive early to lobby for the desired game.