How to watch NFL without cable

Attending a major sporting event is at the same time thrilling and painful.

The roar of the crowd is exhilarating as is watching your favorite players but that can be offset with finding a place to park, paying a fortune for a beer and hot dog, and scooting past a dozen people to get to your middle-of-the-aisle seat. Plus don’t forget how exhausted you are at work after driving home from a Monday night football game.

None of those evils exist when you watch an NFL game from home. And if you know how to watch NFL games without cable, you even save money as you settle in for Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football or even Thursday Night Football.

Live Football After Cable

Without cable — which you ditched because of the cost — you need to decide how you are going to stream NFL games. First, figure out what’s more important to you, seeing all the live NFL games, making sure you can see every game of your favorite NFL team or just watching the highlights.

Let’s look at the options to watch live NFL games this season without paying for cable TV, which is likely setting you back at least $100 a month. Keep in mind that these packages take you all the way from August preseason games through the playoffs.

NBC has broadcasting rights to the championship game in February 2022. You may be able to watch it through your streaming service for an extra fee or by downloading the NBC app which limits you to watching on a mobile device. Check details of specific services.

Watch NFL Games Brought to You by the NFL

There are three viewing packages offered by the NFL, beyond watching individual games on broadcast TV

1. NFL Network

The NFL’s streaming service — NFL Network — which is available at no cost via Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, the NFL App via Android devices and through an XBox One game console. The NFL Network shows one game at a time, and then offers repeats of games from the previous week.

2. NFL Game Pass

NFL Game Pass offers replays of all NFL games. The games can be watched in full, or in specially crafted 40- to 45-minute versions edited to include only the snaps from scrimmage, removing all the other action in between plays.

There is also an option regarding which broadcast team you listen to — the national, home or road broadcast teams. This means that a San Francisco 49er fan living in Florida can hear the game called by local commentator Greg Papa rather than national announcer Chris Collingsworth.

The full season subscription to NFL Game Pass is $100, but there are also quarterly season subscriptions. NFL Game Pass is available through PCs, Macs, XBox, PS4, Apple TV, Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV.

3. NFL Sunday Ticket

The NFL Sunday ticket package offers out-of market broadcasts (games involving teams other than those from your area) of NFL regular season games. It carries all regional Sunday afternoon games broadcasted by CBS and Fox. NFL Sunday Ticket is carried by DirecTV, but it can be accessed without signing up for DirecTV satellite service. It costs $293 a season. You can watch four games at a time on Channel 701 with 4-Game Mix or eight games at a time on Channel 702 with 8-Game Mix at no extra cost.

The NFL Sunday Ticket includes the NFL Red Zone, which shows only scoring plays (or situations in which a team is within the 20-yard line, the “Red Zone”) as they happen. It also just announced the NFL Fantasy Zone, which focuses on fantasy football performance statistics.

A man celebrates while watching football on his laptop.
Getty Images

Other Ways to Watch Live NFL Games

The broadcast networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, ESPN) are limited in the games they present. You may want to watch more than one or two games a day. You may also be among the millions of former cable customers who have cut the cable and depend entirely on streaming services for your telecast viewing.

Streaming services make the most sense if you have cut the cable cord. Thousands of Americans have ditched cable but those that stay steadfast point to their desire to watch live sports. But streaming services allow them to watch all sorts of live sports and also other live programming. This post explains how that works.

Streaming Monday Night Football and So Much More

Here are the most popular streaming services for football:

4. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video offers only those Thursday night games which are not solely shown by NFL Network. Therefore, there is no extra subscription fee to access those games beyond what you pay ($8.99 a month) for Amazon Prime. If you have Amazon Prime, you already have access to those games.

5. FuboTV

FuboTV ($65 and up a month) offers all broadcast games plus NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Red Zone. The big plus here is that the streaming service also provides access to the NFL Network.  FuboTV boasts 100-plus channels of live sports including MLB, NHL, NBA and domestic and international professional soccer.

6. Hulu + Live TV

The subscription fee of $64.99 for Hulu + Live TV gets you all of the broadcast games your cable service previously provided, and offers you access to the NFL Network and NFL Red Zone. It does not include access to NFL Sunday Ticket, however.

7. Paramount Plus

A product of CBS, Paramount Plus offers only those games that are broadcast on CBS, which are games when the home team is an AFC team. It’s cost is relatively minimal, $5 per month with commercials and $10 per month without. (CBS had the rights to the championship game in 2021 but NBC will air the game in 2022.)

8. Sling TV

There are three levels of Sling TV, and each provides a different level of NFL coverage. Sling Orange offers ESPN. Sling Blue has the NFL Network, plus Fox and NBC broadcasts. Each of those services cost $35 per month. You can get Sling Orange and Blue combined for $50 per month. Sling also offers the NFL Red Zone for an additional fee. Sling also offers an antenna for adding local broadcast games you cannot otherwise receive without cable service.

9. YouTube TV

For $65 a month for YouTube TV, you get all the broadcast TV games, plus access to the NFL Network. For an additional $11 you get NFL Red Zone. You’re inching up to monthly cable rates but this is a good option if you want the service’s 85 stations, including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS, without having to deal with a cable company.

10. Digital Media Players

For those who still have cable TV accounts with broadcast (over the air) TV channels, you can watch NFL games on CBS (Sundays with an AFC home team), Fox (Sundays with an NFC home team), NBC (Sunday night) and ESPN (Monday nights). In those cases, you are dependent upon the network to choose the teams and games you watch, and you may not have a rooting interest in those games.

You can also watch games on these channels using an HDTV antenna or devices like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. These items connect to your TV monitor and provide broadcast channels.

Those broadcast games are also available via the network streaming services.

Decisions, Decisions

When deciding which service to subscribe to for NFL games, consider:

  • Which games the service offers
  • Which extra NFL features (statistics, replays, etc.) the service provides
  • The rest of your family

Most of the streaming services offer more than just sports coverage, and you may have family members who would like to watch true-crime dramas, romantic comedies or documentaries.

That’s good news to the family members who don’t want to watch guys throwing a ball around on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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