How to Watch NFL Without Cable
NFL Online, OTA, & on Your Mobile Device
It’s the most wonderful time of the year; the summer heat is slowly gaining, and NFL football has finally returned. For the cord cutting sports fan, it can be difficult to watch your favorite team without having to buy into some expensive package from the cable companies.
With online streaming becoming ever more ubiquitous, it is surprising that companies like ESPN and organizations like the NFL don’t offer streaming services similar to Netflix or Hulu. In the absence of adequate streaming services, one has to get creative in order to watch sports without a cumbersome cable package. To make sure you don’t miss a game this season, here are 5 ways to watch the NFL without buying cable.
Do you play Fantasy Football? If so make sure you read: Cut the Cord but Keep your Fantasy Football Team
1. Over-the-Air Broadcasts
Most local NFL games will be broadcast over the air, in HD, on network channels like ABC, CBS, or FOX. All you need to pick up the games is an indoor or outdoor digital antenna. You can easily enough find them on Amazon and like all digital equipment, they can range from dirt cheap to stupidly expensive.
Don’t be fooled by price tags; just like with HDMI cables, an expensive digital antenna isn’t always a good one. In fact, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, here’s an excellent tutorial on how to make your own indoor digital antenna.
If your looking for quality at a reasonable price, go with Mohu. Their antennas are unmatched in quality, and are offered at a very affordable price point. They made antennas for the US military for many years, until recently moving into the commercial market. They are the number one selling antenna on Amazon (which tells you something), but I suggest buying directly so that you can get the best price possible.
“…we have discovered probably the best thing you will ever plug into your HDTV. It’s the paper-thin HDTV antenna from Mohu.” – HDTV Magazine
NFL PreSeason Schedule – 2016
- Aug. 7, 8pm (ESPN) – Hall of Fame Game: Green Bay vs. Indianapolis
- Aug. 13, 8pm ET (ESPN) – Dallas at Los Angeles
- Aug. 25, 8pm ET (NBC) – Atlanta at Miami
- Aug. 26, 8pm ET (CBS) – Cleveland at Tampa Bay
- Aug. 27, 8pm ET (CBS) – Tennessee at Oakland
- Aug. 28
- 1pm ET (FOX) – San Diego at Minnesota
- 4pm ET (FOX) – Arizona at Houston
- 8pm ET (NBC) – Cincinnati at Jacksonville
Thursday Night Football on CBS & NBC
The Thursday Night Football package grows to 10 games in 2016 and 2017 from 8 games in 2014 and 2015. CBS and NBC have agreed to pay roughly $450 million combined each year – over the next two years. Learn more
CBS has done it again. For the 3rd year in a row, CBS will bring you 5 TNF Games (weeks 2, 3, and 5-7). NBC will finish out the year, airing weeks 11, and 13-16.
- Sept 15 – New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills – CBS
- Sept 22 – Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots – CBS
- Oct 6 – Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers – CBS
- Oct 13 – Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers – CBS
- Oct 20 – Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers – CBS
- Nov 17 – New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers – NBC
- Dec 1 – Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings – NBC
- Dec 08 – Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs – NBC
- Dec 15 – St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks – NBC
- Dec 22 – New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles – NBC
Make sure you are ready to take advantage of this amazing turn of events!
Broadcast Schedule by Location
To find out what games are on in your area, you can check out websites like 506 Sports:
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|Indoor Antennas||Outdoor Antennas||OTA DVRs|
|Mohu Antennas are the #1 Selling Antennas on Amazon for a Reason!|
2 . Thursday Night Football on Twitter
In an exciting new development for the NFL, Twitter will now be the official company streaming Thursday Night Football. That’s right, Twitter, the home of hash tags will now be a go-to destination for Thursday Night Football starting in the 20106 season; beating out the likes of Facebook and Yahoo.
As of yet, there is no official word as to what that will look like however. One would imagine that your football is about to get a lot more social than it is right now; but for the moment we are in the dark.
We’ll keep you updated as more information comes out. But one thing I am sure about is that it’s going to bring online trash talk to a whole new level.
“Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football”, said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season…”
“This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. “Now they’ll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights.”
3. NFL Game Rewind
****Update 07.30.15: NFL Game Rewind has been discontinued and fully replaced with NFL Game Pass, which is now available to US residence. Read a full overview of NFL Game Pass or start with their 7-day Free Trial.
3. NFL Game Pass
NFL Game Pass is by far one of the best ways to catch NFL football without cable if you are not able to access Over-the-Air broadcasts. NFL Game Pass essentially NFL Rewind except you get to watch the game hours later instead of the day after – for only $99 a season (with a 7 Day Free Trial). To read a more robust review check out: How to Watch NFL Games Online with NFL Game Pass
“The service will be available to users within the United States, Bermuda, Antigua, the Bahamas, any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths (including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Mexico.” Tech Crunch
4. NFL Sunday Ticket
If you live in a rural area, or at the very least somewhere without Direct TV, your day has come. Direct TV has a deal with the NFL where they have streaming rights for all NFL games. They offer a package called NFL Sunday Ticket.
As part of the deal, Direct TV have to independently offer NFL Sunday Ticket to those outside of Direct TV’s service area. Most recently it has also become available to New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
Here’s a quick rundown on what NFL Sunday Ticket has to offer:
- Every regular and post-season NFL game
- The ability to stream on your PC, tablet, gaming console, and phone
- The Red Zone Channel; which shows every touchdown from every game
- Direct TV Fantasy Zone; which gives you a look at fantasy football plays
- Real-time stats and scores
- The ability to track your favorite players
There are three different tiers for this plan, although truth be told there isn’t too much of a difference between them. They are as followed:
- To Go ($199) – This the most basic plan and includes everything except The Red Zone Channel, gaming console streaming capabilities, and Direct TV Fantasy Zone
- Console ($239.99) – For some strange reason Direct TV thinks that the ability to stream from your Xbox or PlayStation is worth $40. All this plan includes Is console streaming; honestly if you want to watch the NFL from your computer there are dozens of cheaper ways to do so. Here’s a guide to get you started
- Max ($329.99) – The Max plan includes everything; but if you notice, there’s really only three differences between this plan and the To Go plan. The Red Zone channel is nice; but not $130 extra nice.
You can also get a discount if you attend the following Universities: Ohio St., Michigan, Harvard, Washington, Texas, USC, Florida, Colorado, Alabama, and Syracuse. Follow the link to see if you qualify for NFL Sunday Ticket.
If you don’t qualify, see if you have a friend that does. It may be simpler just to give them the money to buy NFL Sunday ticket and just use their account info. Plenty of people do it for Netflix, so why not football?
5. NFL Mobile on Verizon
NFL Mobile is one of the cheapest ways to catch NFL football around. For just $5 a month (if your already a Verizon customer), you can stream the major NFL games being broadcasted in your area. You get Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, NFL on FOX, and NFL on CBS. They are direct streams so you get all the same commentary, angles, and commercials as you would on TV.
You also get the basic free features; which updates you on game scores, breaking news, and it even has a fantasy football feature.
For an extra $2 a month you get NFL Red Zone; which features every touchdown from every game on Sunday. The app requires a Verizon wireless plan; so if you don’t have Verizon, you’re sore out of luck. Once you download the app you’ll need to verify your Verizon account; as soon as you verify your account you’re good to go!
Unfortunately for people wanting to stream NFL Mobile to their TV, there are a lot of barriers in the way. If you try stream from your phone to the TV, NFL Mobile will detect the screencast and shut you down.
If you have an android phone and Google Chromecast, however, you can get around this. First, download the Chromecast app (which you can get here) for your phone. Open up the application and select “Cast Screen” and select the Chromecast device. Once your TV begins streaming from the phone, you should be able to launch NFL Mobile and watch it on your TV.
(Bonus I.) Sling TV with ESPN
Monday Night Football is the one day of the week cord-cutting football fans wish to avoid. That is until now. For $20 a month, you can sign up for Sling TV and get 20+ live television channels including ESPN (home to Monday Night Football).
Now $20 a month may seem like a lot just for Monday Night Football, but when you add in all the extra stuff you get it becomes a lot more intriguing. With ESPN you can stay up to date with NFL news and game highlights through Sports Center; and 45 % of College Football airs on ESPN.
Update: August 2016 – Effective for the 2016 Season, if you add the the Sports Extra add-on for $5 a month, you will now get access to NFL RedZone and the NFL Network channel. Can you say booyah!!!! I honestly never thought i would see the day that I could get the NFL RedZone Channel without Cable! Check out the Press Release
Sling TV Technical Support
When getting things setup it is important to have everything right at your finger tips. Sling TV Support is best handled through their support line: 888-893-9069, but they also provide support via Twitter: @SlingAnswers
PlayStation Vue – Also offering ESPN
Now available across the US, PlayStation Vue is offering 55 channels for $29 a month. This is $10 more than their competitor, Sling TV, but they do also provide ESPN in their base package.
(Bonus II.) NFL Games for Free Online
In 2015 we saw a groundbreaking turn of events. For the first time in history, the NFL streamed in-season games online for FREE. The first game was Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday Oct 25th – Live from London – with the help of Yahoo Sports.
CBS Sports then went on to stream two regular-season games, four playoff games, and Super Bowl 50 from Levi’s Stadium. All the games were live, and available online for free. CBS’ streaming coverage began with the NY Jets vs Miami in London, then Carolina vs Dallas (Nov. 26), which was on Thanksgiving Day . More information on what games will be aired this year – via a similar fashion. Read the news from last year here: CBS Sports To Stream NFL On CBS Coverage For Regular & Postseason Games Headlined By Super Bowl 50
Love to Watch Football without Cable
One of the reasons why I waited so long to cut the cord was my love of sports. I thought that if I gave up cable, I would be giving up on NFL football. Thankfully I didn’t have to make that choice; and as we’ve seen today, neither do you. Given the 5 options outlined, my preferred method is still, and always will be, Over-the-Air broadcasting. But I am fully aware that an antenna won’t work for everyone so I wanted to provide this in-depth post on all the different options that are open to you.
Are you aware of any method that I missed? Do you have any additional tips you can share with us? If so please provide details in the contents section of this post.
Want to learn more about how to watch sports without cable? Here are some additional articles that you will find helpful:
- How to Watch College Football Online & OTA
- What is OTA (Over-the-Air)
- Watch Live Sports Online?Or is OTA a Better Idea?
- Sky HDTV Outdoor Antenna from Mohu
- Football is Even Better When it is Free
- Watching NFL for Free
- Thursday Night Football for Free in HD