Watching The Superbowl in South Africa

Lost amidst whether South Africa is safe, or my amazing endless travels through the continent, are the little things about living in another country. Sometimes you miss watching the sports from home like Football. American football that is. Mine, and the majority of Americans’ favorite sport to watch. In South Africa however, football is the game played with the foot. It comes as no surprise that one of the first things most expats miss (especially American ones) is good old fashioned American sports. Somehow America decided to say screw the rest of the world, and invent sports that have captivated the American population but shunned the rest of the world.

Case in point, soccer makes American football look like a high school sport in terms of a world popularity. Cricket, the world’s second most popular sport, has more fans than baseball and football combined. We Americans are completely fine with this however, and we’ll gladly keep our American football and watch the World Cup, sprinkled with a few MLS games on occasion.

 

For anyone interested in watching the Superbowl, please note that the Hard Rock Cafe in Nelson Mandela Square will be showing it this year on Feb 5, 2017 @ 1:30 am! 

 

American Football in South Africa


Unfortunately for football fans in SA, this is the resounding opinion of the population.

Unfortunately for football fans in SA, this is the resounding opinion of the population.

This is without question, a non-topic in this country. Most people know nothing about the sport, and the people that do know what it is, will just bandwagon complain about how rugby is more manly because it doesn’t use pads. The whole rugby vs football is a whole other debate that I’ll comment on some other time but as for the culture in SA, don’t plan on going to the bar Sunday afternoon and expect to catch any NFL games on. No chance. Rugby, Cricket, and Soccer dominate the landscape and morning conversations here.

Nevertheless, the friends that I have made here are always curious to talk to me about football. While they don’t know much about the sport, they are especially curious to understand it better. I, of course, would happily oblige since they reciprocate the favor attempting to explain the impossible sport of Cricket to me.

 

Where to watch the Superbowl?


Since the game kicks off at 1am Johannesburg time, most bars are closed. However, the Hard Rock Cafe in Nelson Mandela Square is open and shows the game on all its TVs. As it is an American company, I’d reckon this will continue for the foreseeable future!

There is one bar in Cape Town, The Foreign Exchange, that showed this game at this ungodly hour in 2014. So there is hope!

 

How to watch the Superbowl in SA?


The one year in my life that I decide to leave the states, my team, the Seattle Seahawks HAD to make the Superbowl. And the Superbowl was played in NYC of all places! It killed me not to be there. In the end, it’s probably a good thing as I would have likely blown $1,500 on a ticket, which I could instead use to travel around Africa or seemingly drink at every wine farm in Cape Town.

DSTV's superbowl listing.

DSTV’s superbowl listing.

Nevertheless, a few thousand miles, a 7 hour time zone difference, and a 1:30am kickoff would not stop me from watching this game. There are two ways to do this:

 

DSTV

SA’s main cable provider, shows the Superbowl throughout the country this year in HD live at 1:30am. It seems they will do this again in 2015 and years to come. The only, and major downside to this, is they will not show the commercials. Something about watching the most American broadcast of the year mixed with random South African commercials just feels strange to me. Nevertheless, if commercials are not important, this is the way to go because the HD quality will make it feel like home.

My superbowl setup. Laptop streaming + HDMI. Quality was surprisingly acceptable.

 

First Row Sports:

FirstRow sports, god bless them, is an essential to any American sports fan living abroad. You can watch anything college football and basketball, NFL, NBA, Olympics, and everything else live from your computer. Coupled with an HDMI cable, this is easily transferred to the computer. Downside to this? A fast internet connection is absolutely necessary and streaming anything will not yield the HD quality one might be used to when watching sports. More than likely, this option will also allow you to view the Superbowl commercials.

 

EDIT 2017: Reddit NFL Live Streams

The good folks on Reddit always seem to find the best solutions for just about anything. Reddit users post live action streams for anyone to use which is a great second option if First Row Sports is not working. This is not just for the Superbowl either, as links to live streams are posted for every game during the regular season.

 

Superbowl XLVIII – Joburg


If it were any other team aside from the Seahawks playing, I wouldn’t have sacrificed my entire next day but this is the least I could do to support my team. After putting the word out, we managed to muster two South Africans to join us for the early morning spectacle. We bought some American Superbowl necessities like wings from KFC (not recommended), chips, dip, and beers as well as cuisine from our adopted new home like biltong and chili bites.

Making the superbowl happen at 1am.

Making the Superbowl happen at 1am.

Sometimes when you live abroad, you just gotta make things feel as at home as possible. 1:30am comes along, and I’m already two redbulls deep so I won’t fall asleep and the game begins! Anyone who watched this game knows the outcome as the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos. I ended staying up until 5am, completely ruining the next day, but totally worth it seeing my team win the big one. Getting a little bit of American in didn’t hurt either .

 

Superbowl XLIX?


It was quite tough not being able to watch 2014’s Superbowl the way I’m used to but I survived. Now . . . if I’m still in SA for next year’s Superbowl and the Seahawks make it again? Not sure if I can stomach that. However, there is always the option of trying to get into Rugby, and I have a few games I’m planning on going to in the very near future that I will surely write about. Rugby is not football but sometimes you have to make compromises living away from home 🙁

If anyone knows of a better way to watch the Superbowl in Johannesburg or South Africa in general, please post a comment!

Showing 16 comments
  • Daniela
    Reply

    Hard Rock Cafe Johannesburg will be screening to Superbowl Game Live on the 8th February 2016, 1.30AM.

    See you there!
    HRC Team

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks for the update Daniela! I know for a fact in the next two weeks, hundreds of people will be reading this post a day so hope they find their way to the Hard Rock!

  • Jen
    Reply

    Any chance that someone knows a spot for watching regular season baseball?

    It’s opening day!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hey Jen, Don’t want to disappoint you but with how cricket obsessed South Africa is, Baseball in Joburg might be a long (very) shot! Many of my SA friends were keen on learning more about American football but I had 0 takers on baseball unfortunately 🙁

      If you do discover a place, please do share! I’m very curious.

  • Ana
    Reply

    Hard Rock Cafe Sandton on Nelson Mandela Square is screening the American Super Bowl 🙂

    • Johnny Chen
      Reply

      Ah awesome! Thanks for the info, rejoice Joburgers! Leave it to the one American chain to do something good and show the Superbowl!

      • Johnny Chen

        Just called hard Rock and they are indeed showing it. Baring the restaurant closing down in the future, it looks like hard Rock Cafe will be the spot for people to watch the superbowl I’m Johannesburg for the foreseeable future!

      • Mason

        Johnny – I just called them and they said they are not showing? I’m assuming this employee who answered just didn’t know about it? If so, I’ll be there!

        MP

      • Johnny

        Hi Mason, you’re right. I just spoke with hard Rock and they have not confirmed whether they will host yet. They said they will have an answer later today. Will keep everyone updated here. Thanks!

      • Johnny

        Hi Mason, just got the confirmation d that the hard Rock Cafe in Nelson Mandela Square will be showing the superbowl this Sunday! . Enjoy everyone!!

      • Mason

        Awesome thanks Johnny!

    • Daniela
      Reply

      HARD ROCK CAFE JOHANNESBURG WILL BE SCREENING THE SUPER BOWL EVERY YEAR FOR ALL LOVERS OF THE SPORT!

      Hope to see you on the 8th February 2016- 1.30AM

      Regards
      HRC Team

  • Izak
    Reply

    I am also looking for s Superbowl party in JHB????? Where?????

  • Brian
    Reply

    I’m assuming there’s going to be massive amounts of people streaming from this website for the superbowl. Did you guys experience any lag or technical issues last year?? Great info by the way, very helpful!

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