An experimental library to map play meta data to footage of that play.
Python Makefile Vim script
Switch branches/tags
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.

This project is unmaintained. The code may still be useful and parts of it may still work, but you're on your own.

nflvid is a Python package that facilates the processing of NFL game footage. In particular, this library provides routines to do the following:

  • Download game footage from NFL's content provider (Neulion).

  • Download play meta data associated with game footage that, among other things, describes the start time of every play in the game.

  • Cut the game footage into pieces where each piece corresponds to a single play.

  • With the nflvid.vlc and the nflvid-watch script, you can search for plays and watch video of them right from your command line. (XXX: Insert link to wiki page for HOWTO.)

The methods used in this library rely heavily on the open availability of data that could be shut off at any time. More to the point, the content that this library requires is large and cannot be distributed easily. Therefore, this package's future remains uncertain.

Slicing game footage into play-by-play pieces is done using meta data, which can sometimes contain errors. Not all of them are detectable, but when they are, nflvid can create a ten-second "stand in" video clip with a textual description of the play.

The meta data for when each play starts in the footage is included in this repository and is installed automatically.

The actual game footage can either be broadcast footage (with commercials removed), or it can be "all-22" (coach) footage. Broadcast footage comes in varying qualities (up to 720p HD) while "all-22" footage is limited to only standard definition (480p) quality. nflvid faciliates acquiring either, but getting coach footage is much more reliable and is therefore the default operation. Gathering broadcast footage is possible, but it is buggy.


The API documentation is generated from the code using epydoc. A copy of it can be found here:


nflvid is on PyPI, so it can be installed with pip:

pip2 install nflvid

Note that nflvid requires Python 2.6 or Python 2.7. It is not compatible with Python 3.


nflvid depends on the following third-party Python packages, which are all available in PyPI and are installed automatically by pip if it's used to install nflvid.

Additionally, the following programs are used to facilitate the downloading and slicing of video. They should be available in the standard repositories of any Linux distribution. They are not required if you already have the sliced play-by-play footage and only want to access video of a particular play given a play identifier from nflgame.

Basic usage

nflvid operates by understanding two different directory hierarchies. One is a directory containing one file for each game. The other is a directory with a sub-directory for each game, where each sub-directory contains a single file for each play in that game. The former is known as the footage_dir while the latter is known as footage_play_dir.

To start downloading the "all-22" footage to /home/you/pats/full for every New England game in 2012, you could use the following command to start with: (The lone -- before the directory is necessary since more than one team can be specified with the --teams option.)

nflvid-footage --dry-run --season 2012 --teams NE -- /home/you/pats/full

Note the use of the --dry-run flag. When set, this only downloads the first 30 seconds of each game. The point is to test that your environment is configured correctly before starting a long-running job. If the dry run completes OK, then try playing the files it downloaded in /home/you/pats/full. If all is well, proceed with downloading the full video:

nflvid-footage --season 2012 --teams NE -- /home/you/pats/full

Sometimes video downloads can fail (although it is rare), so make sure to watch the output of nflvid-footage. It will tell you if a download is incomplete. If so, delete the video and re-run the command. The program will not re-download footage that is already on disk!

You can also try using the nflvid-incomplete command, which will compare the expected duration of a game with its actual duration. For example, after trying to download broadcast video of week 2 of the 2013 regular season, I ran this command:

[andrew@Liger nflvid] nflvid-incomplete --broadcast /m/nfl/broadcast/tmp/*.mp4

And the output was:

/m/nfl/broadcast/tmp/2013091505.mp4: Expected duration 02:49:10:14 but it has 00:59:40:030.
/m/nfl/broadcast/tmp/2013091506.mp4: Expected duration 02:22:58:98 but it has 00:31:10:019.
/m/nfl/broadcast/tmp/2013091511.mp4: Expected duration 02:27:04:96 but it has 00:41:19:427.

So I ran rm /m/nfl/broadcast/tmp/20130915{05,06,11}.mp4 and restarted the download command from last night. It will automatically retry the downloads for the games I just deleted.

Tip: This process can now be mostly automated with a shell script like nflvid-broadcast-download. It will continue to try to download footage to the current directory. Now that nflvid-footage has a built in watch dog that kills ffmpeg processes that are not making progress, it is easier to automatically retry footage downloads.

Once you've downloaded some games, you can now try slicing the footage into plays. The following command will put the sliced plays into /home/you/pats/pbp:

nflvid-slice --dry-run /home/you/pats/pbp /home/you/pats/full/*.mp4

Note once again the --dry-run flag. When slicing, this flag will only slice the first ten plays in a game. Although slicing doesn't take as long as downloading (since there is no transcoding), it's still worth it to try something quick to make sure things are working. After that's done, check the contents of /home/you/pats/pbp. You should see a directory for each game video in /home/you/pats/full. If the video of the plays is OK, then remove the --dry-run flag:

nflvid-slice /home/you/pats/pbp /home/you/pats/full/*.mp4

Note that you can keep running this same command over and over again. Plays will not be resliced if they are already on disk.

Finally, since the meta data describing the start time of each play is sometimes incomplete, you can add place-holder videos for each missing play that contain a static 10-second-long textual description of the play:

nflvid-slice --add-missing-plays /home/you/pats/pbp /home/you/pats/full/*.mp4

Please check out nflvid-footage --help and nflvid-slice --help for more options.