When it comes to sports in America, no league is as important as the National Football League. America’s gridiron game is a way of life for folks all around the country, and fans will do just about anything to catch their team in person or get their hands on the latest jerseys and merchandise. That’s easy to see in the TV ratings, which the NFL dominates: when it comes to sports on TV, the NFL is king. So perhaps it’s not surprising that cable companies are holding out hope that the NFL will help them fight cord cutting. Unfortunately for them, it’s easy to watch the NFL online – and even for free – without cable. Today, we’re here to show you how to watch NFL games without cable. We’ll lay out everything you need to know in order to catch the games live and watch the NFL, no cable required.
What Channels Are NFL Games On?
In order to give you access to the NFL without cable, we’re going to show you how to watch TV without cable. Specifically, we’re going to talk about how to access the channels that have the NFL coverage that you crave. So, naturally, we should first take a moment to figure out which channels those are.
On Sundays, the days games air on CBS and Fox. Sunday Night Football airs on NBC. Monday Night Football currently belongs to ESPN, and Thursday Night Football airs on CBS and streams on various websites, depending on the NFL’s latest content deal.
So we just have four channels to worry about: CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN. Getting all four of those will ensure that you catch every NFL game of the season, including playoff games and the Super Bowl. So how can we watch all of these channels – and therefore watch NFL games – without cable? Read on!
How to Watch NFL Games Online and Over the Air Without Cable
There are two main strategies for watching TV without cable that we at Cordcutting.com like to focus on. The first is free over-the-air TV, which we’ll explain in more detail when we get to the relevant section of our list below. The second is the “skinny bundle,” or live TV streaming service, which accounts for a bunch of the entries on our list below. To avoid repeating ourselves every time skinny bundles appear on our list, let’s spend a moment now going over what, exactly, a skinny bundle actually is.
Skinny bundles offer TV fans the same thing that cable and satellite companies do: live TV. A skinny bundle service is a multichannel service, which means that it gives you access to a bunch of different live channels. You’ll recognize the networks, which are familiar ones like AMC, TBS, HGTV, and – happily for our purposes here – CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN. The channel lineups vary a bit from service to service, but the selections tend to be good.
You’ll have to pay if you want a skinny bundle subscription, but the prices are much better than cable. Plus, skinny bundles trim down the bulky cable bundles, earning their nicknames by offering subscribers nothing-but-the-hits selections of top-notch channels. Unlike cable, skinny bundles won’t force you to pay for channels you don’t even watch.
Part of the reason skinny bundles are so innovative is that they’re streaming online. Without regional cable monopolies, they’re forced to actually compete for your business. Imagine that! On top of this, the fact that skinny bundles are streaming services means that you can watch them on all sorts of different devices. Want to watch NFL games on the go? With a skinny bundle, you can.
Our list below will cover all of the best ways to watch NFL games online and over-the-air without cable. We’ll start with a bunch of skinny bundles, and then we’ll move on to cover other streaming services and free over-the-air TV. Are you ready? Here’s how to watch NFL games without cable.
Hulu with Live TV offers a package of channels for $39.99 per month. It also includes access to on-demand content from Hulu’s longstanding SVOD (subscription video on demand) service. The channel bundle on offer here includes CBS, Fox, and NBC (in select markets) as well as ESPN, so you’ll be ready to watch all the NFL you want without cable if you grab yourself a Hulu with Live TV subscription. Not sure if it’s right for you? No worries: Hulu with Live TV offers a free trial.
Sling TV offers two base packages. “Sling Orange” includes ESPN, and “Sling Blue” includes Fox and NBC. The base bundles cost $25 per month a apiece, but you can get both together for $40 per month. Sling TV also offers “Extras,” which are add-on bundles of channels. “Sports Extra,” a $5-per-month option, is one that might appeal to fans of the NFL. Unfortunately, Sling TV doesn’t have CBS. It does, however, have a great free trial program – check it out by clicking the link below, and watch some NFL games for free before your billing period starts!
fuboTV markets itself as a great skinny bundle choice for sports fans, and it does a reasonable job of making NFL games available to cord cutters. fuboTV offers CBS, Fox, and NBC in select markets. It is, unfortunately, missing ESPN – a pretty major oversight for a sports-centric skinny bundle. Still, fuboTV makes a great way to watch the NFL online, and its NFL-friendly channels are all available in its cheapest base package (“fubo,” which costs $44.99 per month). You can get your first month of fuboTV at a discount, and fuboTV also offers a free trial, which you can snag via the link below.
PlayStation Vue offers subscribers a choice of a few different bundles arranged in tiers. The cheapest, which is the $44.99-per-month “Access” bundle, is all you’ll need to watch the NFL without cable: you’ll get CBS, Fox, and NBC (in select markets) in that package, and ESPN is tucked in there, too. You can upgrade your bundle to pricier ones if you’d like, and PlayStation Vue is also one way to get NFL RedZone – a channel that is particularly hard to watch without cable. That makes PlayStation Vue a fantastic answer to the question of how to watch NFL games without cable. Try it out for free by clicking on the link below!
YouTube TV is a great choice for cord cutters who find themselves covered by the service’s still-ongoing region-by-region rollout. YouTube TV offers CBS, Fox, and NBC in select markets, and it also has ESPN in its lone bundle option. That bundle will cost you $40 per month, and comes loaded with features like unlimited cloud DVR space and great content discovery features. You can check out YouTube TV for free by clicking on the link below and signing up for the service’s free trial offer.
DirecTV Now offers several different skinny bundle options. The cheapest, “Live a Little,” costs $40 per month and includes all of the channels we need in order to watch the NFL without cable: CBS, Fox, and NBC (each in select markets), plus ESPN. You can choose a larger bundle if you’d like – all of DirecTV Now’s bigger bundles include the channels from their smaller counterparts, plus some new ones – and whatever bundle you choose, you can snag a free trial to test-drive the service for free.
Free Over-the-Air TV
Free over-the-air TV is one of the most powerful tools in any cord-cutter’s arsenal. With nothing more than an antenna and a TV, you can pick up broadcast stations in your area. And you know what stations are broadcast stations? CBS, Fox, and NBC, to name a few! An over-the-air antenna will net you every regular-season game other than Monday Night Football games, and it will allow you to watch NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl, too. That’s a pretty amazing dose of NFL games for free without cable!
You can even turn your OTA setup into a streaming one with the aid of an OTA DVR or a PC TV tuner. With this strategy, you can do something that even skinny bundles won’t let you do: stream NFL games free online, legally.
CBS All Access is a service aimed at CBS superfans. For $5.99 per month, fans get access to on-demand content from CBS. More importantly for our purposes here, a CBS All Access subscription will give subscribers in select markets access to a live feed of their local CBS station. That’s one way to watch CBS NFL games online! Check out the service by clicking the link below and signing up for CBS All Access’ free trial offer.
The NFL’s mobile app is essential this year, because the league is allowing mobile users to stream live local games for free. Once a Verizon exclusive, this live streaming is now for everyone with an iOS or Android smartphone as long as they’re within their team’s market. Local and nationally televised games are both included. This solution is small-screen only, but it’s a huge leap for the NFL in the cord-cutting era. In addition to NFL Mobile, you can also use the Yahoo Sports app to stream these same games.
Can I Watch NFL Games on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?
Whan you watch the NFL without cable, you aren’t limited to watching it on just one TV. The beauty of cord-cutting solutions (besides all the money you save) is that they empower you to watch what you want when you want – and on almost any device you choose.
So can you watch NFL games on Roku? Can you watch NFL games on Fire TV? What about Apple TV? Yes, yes, yes: the services and techniques we listed above will play nice with your favorite streaming devices.
Roku users can watch NFL games with DirecTV Now, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, or YouTube TV.
Fire TV users can use DirecTV Now, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, or Sling TV (no YouTube TV yet, sorry).
Apple TV? You guys get the whole gang: DirecTV Now, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV
Chromecast gets full support, too. DirecTV Now, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV all have apps that work with Chromecast devices.
Android TV supports fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV (but not DirecTV Now, at least for the time being).
DirecTV Now, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV also have iOS and Android mobile apps. Each of them also has desktop and/or in-browser apps that make it easy to watch NFL games online on your desktop or laptop computer.
Even video games sytems work. Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV work on Xbox. PlayStation Vue has an app for PlayStation.
What about OTA? Well, you don’t need a streaming device to use OTA devices, but you can add a PC TV tuner or an OTA DVR to the mix in order to stream your OTA content on platforms that include the ones we listed above.
CBS All Access has great platform support, too. It works on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, mobile devices, and desktop and laptop computers.
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