Figuring out how to watch the NFL online without cable TV can seem overwhelming. But the good news is that in 2021, there are several great options at your fingertips – many of which will let you stream NFL games for free and cheap.
So to help you out, we’ve put together this detailed, step-by-step guide to walk you through the process and connect you with a solution that works best for you. If you’re looking to get to streaming fast, we’ll provide you with some quick info at the beginning, followed by our in-depth guide.
Disclosure: if you click to try out a service, we may get a small referral fee at no additional expense to you. It’s how we are able to pay the bills while we perform our research, test products, and provide you with assistance.
First things first, before getting into the details on the various methods you can use watch live NFL games, it’s important to understand what channels you need the games actually come on. To make it easy for you, we created the infographic above, which shows you which games come on which channels, along with all the best legal ways to watch them.
Below, we’ll provide a bit of explanation.
NFL Sunday is when most NFL games occur, with the majority happening during the afternoon. These afternoon games air on two local channels: CBS and FOX. CBS has the rights to AFC games, and FOX has the rights to NFC games.
So those two channels will make up the majority of NFL games. Another channel you could watch them on is NFL RedZone. This premium channel features live highlights of every Sunday afternoon game with no commercials.
During the week, there are generally two games. The first is Monday Night Football. ESPN has exclusive rights MNF, so that’s the only place to watch the game. The only exception is when your local team plays, a local broadcast affiliate will simulcast the game along with ESPN. That could be CBS, FOX, or another channel depending on your location.
And finally, there’s the Thursday Night Football game. This one is a little trickier, as there are a few different channels that carry this game during the season. Most importantly, you need NFL Network for this game. However, FOX and Amazon Prime also simulcast many of these games throughout the season.
A Quick Look at the Best NFL Streaming Service for Most People
For most people, we find that fuboTV is the best solution for watching NFL without cable. The service really does serve as a complete NFL solution for most people, providing the major broadcast networks for Sunday football, as well as ESPN for Monday Night Football, NFL Network for Thursday Night Football, and the option to upgrade and add NFL RedZone for diehard fans.
Quick Pick: fuboTV
- 100+ channels, including every channel you need to watch NFL games
- Cloud DVR to go back and rewatch games
- Works on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Smartphones, Tablets, and more devices
- Free trial, no contract, no strings attached
5 Ways to Watch NFL Football without Cable
Ok, so now that we know what channels you need, it’s time to decide how you want to watch. Here they are at a glance:
#1 Subscribe to a live streaming service to watch the NFL online.
The simplest way to watch all the channels you need for live NFL football is to use a live streaming service. What’s the best NFL streaming service? Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular ones out there along with there channel coverage.
|FUBOTV (FREE TRIAL)||HULU LIVE (FREE TRIAL)||SLING TV (FREE TRIAL)||VIDGO (FREE TRIAL)|
As you can see, there are plenty of streaming services that allow you to watch the channels you need to NFL games live. Each offers a free trial so you can test it out. They all work on most major devices, and none require contracts.
To try them out, simply click the free trial offer and sign up to test. That way you can learn which is the best NFL streaming service for you.
Want to learn more about these services? Don’t worry: we’ll go into great detail on each later on in this guide. If you’d like to skip to that section, you can click here.
#2 Use an antenna to watch NFL games for free.
It’s easy to forget, but antennas still work. In fact, you might even call the antenna the cord cutters secret weapon. That’s because if you live in a location within range of the necessary towers, you can get FOX, CBS, and NBC completely free to your TV. In HD!
If you’re in range, that means you can watch all in-market games on Sunday live. And since you could get FOX, that covers many of the Thursday Night Football games. However, it won’t cover the NFL Network exclusive ones.
Unfortunately, you can’t get ESPN via antenna. So Monday Night Football is out of the equation. Here’s a quick look at some of our best recommended antennas.
|Mohu Leaf 30||Clearstream||Winegard Flatwave||Clearstream 4||Winegard Elite|
|Range||30 miles||50+ miles||50 miles||70+ miles||70 miles|
*Price at time of publishing.
Of course, if you’re watching with an antenna, you can only watch live. No pausing, no watching later. However, you’ll be happy to know that they actually make DVRs that work with your antenna.
Our favorite DVR for cord cutters is the Tablo. Tablo allows you to record live programming, and then stream it back on any devices you connect to it. With this DVR, not only can you watch later and skip commercials, but you can also stream live to your connected devices, making it a great way to watch NFL online on the go!
You can check the most recent Tablo prices here.
#3 Stream NFL on your mobile device for free.
If you’re okay with watching NFL games online using your phone or tablet, then this is for you. This season, the NFL is offering two apps that let you watch all in-market and national games, that includes games on NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NFL Network, absolutely free. Those apps are:
- The official NFL App
- Yahoo Sports
Sound too good to be true? Well, there’s a catch – the apps won’t allow you to watch on your TV. Even if you have Chromecast or Apple TV, you can’t cast or mirror these apps to your TV. Due to licensing restrictions, those functions have been blocked.
So if you’re looking to watch on the big screen, well, you’re out of luck here. But if you are someone who doesn’t mind holding a device, or maybe you’re always on the go, then this is a way to watch NFL online free.
A couple of other things worth mentioning. When using these apps, you have to allow them to use your location. This is how it knows what market you’re in to show you the correct games. Also, it’s important to note that if you aren’t able to connect to wi-fi, live streaming on mobile devices will eat up a TON of data. So beware!
#4 Stream NFL games (every single one) on demand after it airs.
While it might sound crazy to some fans, there are others who don’t mind watching the games after they air. They’re used to DVRing the action and watching later, skipping over the commercials in the process. If that sounds like you, then we highly recommend NFL Game Pass (free trial).
What is NFL GamePass? For $99 a season, you can stream every single NFL game after it airs. Doesn’t matter if it’s in your market or not. Every single game. Playoffs and Super Bowl are included.
And not only can you replay the full broadcasts, but each game also features a condensed version, which cuts out the non-action in between plays, allowing you to get through an entire game fast, ensuring that you can watch the most NFL action possible in your allotted time.
There’s also coach’s film, extra camera angles, additional NFL programming like Hard Knocks, and more. It’s the service for the most diehard fans!
#5 Use a combination of some or all of the above!
The great thing about cord cutting is that you really do have so many options. As a result, you can mix and match to put together the best setup for you. And while one of the options mentioned above may take care of all your needs, you might find that a combination of one or more works best.
For example, say you live in an area where you can get all your local channels clearly with an antenna. But you really want to watch MNF. Well, you could just watch that one game a week free on your iPad using the NFL app. Or, you could subscribe to the free trial of one of the streaming services like fuboTV to see the individual game you want.
The great thing about it is, when it comes to cutting the cord, you’re not tied to anything. You can try different services, cancel them after you’ve seen the games you want, and then try others. This gives you the ultimate flexibility to watch NFL online without cable TV!
The number one way we discuss to watch NFL online without cable is to use live streaming services. Why? Because these services offer:
- Affordability – Ranging from $30 a month to $65 a month, live streaming services cost only a fraction of the average cable bill.
- Flexibility – Unlike cable, streaming services don’t feature contracts. You can use them on a month-to-month basis, and cancel whenever you want.
- Free trials – Ever heard of a cable provider offer a free test drive of their service? Of course not. But with live streaming services, you can try each for 3-7 days with no strings attached. You could even bounce from one free trial to another and watch a month or more of the NFL season free.
- Freedom – When you stream NFL games using one of these services, you can watch wherever you want. At home on your TV, on the road on your phone, wherever you have a wi-fi connection.
But how do you decide which to try first? Below, we’ll go through the major live streaming services you can use to watch NFL games online.
Watch the NFL on fuboTV
The complete NFL streaming package, all in one service
With fuboTV you can watch NFL online on many devices, including streaming players, smart TVs, mobile devices and more. I recommend fuboTV for folks who like to watch a wide variety of sports, because the service does an excellent job of covering just about every type of sport out there, including international coverage.
fuboTV makes for a great way to watch NFL Games online for the 2020 season. fuboTV is a service designed specifically for sports fans, and it’s also a great way to watch NFL playoffs without cable and the Super Bowl thanks to its local channel coverage. Starting at $59.99 per month (but most commonly associated with the $64.99 plan), with no contract, you get 90+ channels that mostly focus on sports (and there’s a free 7-day trial to test out).
With over 100 channels of live sports, TV shows, movies, including local channels like CBS, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, and Redzone, you have almost everything you need.
Check out the 7-day free trial to see if the service is right for you. It’s very valuable for all types of sports fans, as it covers just about every sport out there! Check out our fuboTV review for more info on the service. Don’t forget to watch NFL games on fuboTV with the trial to test it out. You can also learn more about how to watch NFL on fuboTV here.
Stream NFL Games on HULU + Live TV
Watch NFL games along with Hulu’s giant on-demand library
At a Glance
- Price: Starting at $64.99/month
- Channels available: ESPN, NFL Network, NBC, CBS, and FOX in most areas.
- Channels missing: NFL Network, NFL RedZone
$65 per month (with a free 7-day trial) gets you 60+ great TV channels, covering everything from sports to news and entertainment. You’ll get most of the networks you need for NFL (including watching the NFL Draft, NFL Honors Awards, and more), including ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC, (see local channel lineup here) and local sports networks. On top of that, Hulu includes a massive on-demand library that rivals Netflix, so you can binge-watch all your favorite shows in between football games! I recommend Hulu with Live TV for anyone looking for a complete alternative to cable TV. It covers everything you need to finally cut the cord and still enjoy the sports and shows you crave!
Hulu with Live TV (check out our Hulu Live review) is one of the most popular cable TV alternatives, and one of my personal favorites. It’s a complete entertainment solution, covering both live and on-demand TV, with everything from sports to local news. It also has DVR capabilities, so you can record games to watch later.
For football fans, the service offers a ton of value. Hulu Live TV has the most extensive coverage of local broadcast networks, which are absolutely vital for watching football without cable. It also carries ESPN for MNF. The only network missing is NFL Network, which makes Thursday Night Football tough at the beginning of the season. However, luckily many TNF games are on FOX.
You can use Hulu with Live TV on all your favorite devices. Watch on your big-screen via a streaming player like Roku or Apple TV, or stream on-the-go on your smartphone or tablet (note: there may be some mobile streaming restrictions for NFL games). You can even watch on your laptop!
And remember, Hulu is non-contract. That means you are free to cancel at any time.
Ready to sign up and start watching live football? Click here to try a free 7-day trial of Hulu Live TV! Or, check out our guide for more info on how to watch NFL on Hulu Live.
Sling TV – Sunday, Monday, Thursday Night Football on the Cheap
The most flexible service, allowing you to mix and match packages
At a Glance
- Price: Starting at $30/month, $45/month for Orange + Blue
- Channels available: ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NBC and FOX in limited areas
- Channels missing: CBS, NBC and FOX in many areas
$30 per month (with a free 3-day trial) gets you a package of 30+ channels including ESPN, which covers Monday Night Football. Larger packages are available that cover other NFL networks in some areas. Sling also announced on September 15, 2020 that is has come to an agreement to add both NFL Network and NFL RedZone back to its line up. Additionally, you can access NFL games on FOX and NBC with the Blue package and using your Sling TV login info to authenticate the Fox Sports Go and NBC Sports apps. Sling is a great budget-friendly option for NFL streaming, but it’s not complete since it doesn’t offer CBS.
Sling TV is a cable TV alternative that is affordable and easy to use. You can add on a cloud DVR service to record games, and offers a few different packages, depending on the number of channels you want. Here is a full Sling TV review if you still have questions after reading the below. Learn more about how to watch NFL on Sling TV here.
Orange Package – Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football – For $30 a month, you can sign up for Sling TV‘s cheapest subscription plan (Orange) and get 30+ live television channels including ESPN without cable (home to Monday Night Football).
Now $30 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. And of course, you’ll also get 30+ other channels, like AMC, HGTV, Comedy Central, and more.
Blue Package – Sunday and Thursday Night Football
With their Blue package, you can get FOX (select markets), NBC (select markets), NFL Network, and much more. All you need to do is sign up for the $30 a month Blue subscription. The only downside is that you won’t get ESPN in this package, so it’s a bit of a calculated choice. You can also add the $10/month Sports Extra package to get NFL Redzone and much more.
As mentioned before, the broadcast channels are only available in select areas; but if you happen to be in one of these areas, this is a screaming deal. Even if you aren’t in one of the areas where FOX or NBC is available live through Sling TV, you can use your Sling credentials to log in to the FOX and NBC TV Everywhere apps to watch the games live that way. You are talking Sunday Football and every Thursday Night game for $30 a month. Can’t beat it.
You can also get both packages, Sling Orange + Blue, for $45 per month. This is the best of both worlds, as you get Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, and Sunday Night Football in many areas.
To jump right in and test the waters, try their 7-day free trial.
Vidgo – ESPN and NFL Network on the Cheap
The cheapest way to stream ESPN and NFL Network both in one service package
At a Glance
- Price: Starting at $40/month
- Channels available: ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, FOX in some areas
- Channels missing: CBS, NBC
For $40 per month (with a free 3-day trial) you can get a package of 40+ great channels on Vidgo that covers nearly every NFL game of the season. It also includes tons of entertainment, news, and more!
Vidgo is a great newer service for cord-cutters. They have plans starting at $40 a month. This package includes ESPN, NFL Network, and much more. That means you’ll be able to watch some football games during the season, including Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. In other words, it’s a fantastic way to watch NFL games without cable if you can couple with an antenna.
And when there are no games on, Vidgo offers tons of options for the whole family. Everything from the latest TV shows to the nightly news is on Vidgo, and you can watch on all your favorite devices! Check out our Vidgo review for more info, or get started with a free 3-day trial!
Frequently Asked Questions about Watching NFL Online
How Do I Watch NFL Games Live for Free?
If you are searching to watch NFL games for free, you undoubtedly have come across a lot of services that are scams. The only ways to watch NFL for free are:
- Use a free trial of one of a paid streaming service
- Get an antenna for all local channels
- Use Locast to get a stream of your local channels if you are in one of the select markets
- Use the NFL mobile app or similar to watch free on mobile devices
How Do I Watch Out of Market NFL Games Online?
If you want to watch out of market NFL games, then NFL Game Pass should be your service of choice. You can try it free here.
How Do I Stream CBS NFL Games?
There are a variety of ways to stream CBS NFL games. Our top recommendation for watching CBS games and all the other games live in one interface is fuboTV. Try it free here.
However, if CBS is the only channel you’re missing, you can try the niche service, CBS All Access. For just $5.99 a month (with a free 7-day trial), CBS All Access provides live streaming access to CBS. This service only covers games that will air on CBS. By no means is it comprehensive, but it’s only $5.99 a month so it’s a good low-cost option for those of you that want to live stream the NFL, especially if you live in an AFC market. Start your Free Trial today.
Can I Stream NFL on Amazon Prime?
Yes, Amazon Prime subscribers can now watch many Thursday Night Football matches this season for FREE, directly from the Prime Video app. If you’re not already a Prime subscriber, you can start out with a free 30-day trial.
Amazon Prime is now the online streaming home for much of Thursday Night Football, sharing streaming rights with FOX and NFL Network. For the 2020 NFL season, Amazon Prime will host 11 TNF games, each of which will also simulcast on FOX and/or NFL Network. Amazon Prime costs $119 per year and includes free 2-day shipping on Amazon, free video streaming, and MUCH more.
If you do not have Amazon Prime, you can get started today with a free 30-day trial.
How Do I Watch NFL Playoffs Online?
Once the playoffs are underway, there are plenty of legal ways to watch online. Options are pretty similar to the regular season, with games airing on ESPN, FOX, NBC, and CBS. So services like fuboTV and Hulu will work well for you. You can learn more in our NFL playoffs guide here.
Can I Watch NFL Games on Netflix?
Netflix is an on-demand service, meaning there is no live TV on it. That means you can’t watch live NFL games on Netflix. It’s also important to note that past NFL games aren’t on Netflix either. If you wish to watch NFL games on demand after they air, we recommend NFL Game Pass.
How Can I Watch Sunday Night Football without Cable?
Since Sunday Night Football airs exclusively on NBC, you need an option with that channel. The cheapest way is to use an antenna or Locast, but those options, especially Locast, are limited. Your best bet would be to go with a streaming service like fuboTV or Hulu Live, which allow you to watch Sunday Night Football online without cable TV in most areas.
Can You Stream NFL Sunday Ticket?
For $73.49 a month, Sunday Ticket covers every out-of-market Sunday football game live. The catch is that it’s only available where DIRECTV is NOT available and it’s *technically* for students, so mostly this service is good for rural football fans. Its high cost and limited availability mean that there are likely better options for many people.
If you live in an area outside of DIRECTV’s service area, your day has come. Direct TV has a deal with the NFL where they have streaming rights for all NFL games. As part of the deal, DIRECTV has to independently offer NFL Sunday Ticket to those outside of DIRECTV’s service area.
The package they offer is called NFL Sunday Ticket U and it simply gives you everything, and I mean everything.
The big downside here is that most of us do not qualify because DIRECTV’s service area is enormous.
Here’s a quick rundown on what NFL Sunday Ticket has to offer:
- Every out of market NFL Game LIVE every Sunday
- The ability to stream on your PC, tablet, gaming console, and phone
- Real-time stats and scores
- Condensed 30 minutes Games
- The ability to track your favorite players
- Watch four games at once
There are two different plans for NFL Sunday Ticket, although they’re not too much different. The cheapest plan, To Go, will cost $73.49 a month for four months. In total that’s $293.96 for the four months.
The second, and most expensive, plan is called Max and costs $99 per month for four months ($395.99 total). The Max plan is identical to the first plan, except that you also get the NFL RedZone Channel and Direct TV Fantasy Zone. You can also get a 50% discount on NFL Game Pass.
If you attend the following Universities you can also get a discount for Sunday Ticket: Ohio St., Michigan, Harvard, Washington, Texas, USC, Florida, Colorado, Alabama, and Syracuse.
What’s the Easiest Way to Watch NFL on a Smart TV?
Since smart TV’s support streaming apps, the easiest way to watch NFL games on a smart TV is to check out our list of NFL-friendly streaming services and find out if your TV supports them. Supported services vary by brand of smart TV, so you’ll need to check prior to signing up to a service. Here’s a quick guide on how to watch Hulu Live on your smart TV.
How Do I Listen to Live NFL Games?
NFL on TuneIn
Sometimes we don’t get what we want, and sometimes we want to watch football but can’t. For those Sunday, Monday or Thursdays that you just cannot be in front of a screen, you have NFL on TuneIn.
Listen to every score as it happens, in live time. TuneIn offers the best audio game day experience for cord-cutting NFL fans.
Click here to test out their free trial ($9 a month thereafter).
Looking for Info on How to Watch a Certain Team?
Need more information on how to watch the NFL without cable tailored specifically to your favorite team? Click on your team below.
Why Listen to Us?
Real quick, I’d like to give you a little background on what qualifies me to walk you through the process of streaming NFL without cable. Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Helen Back, and I am the Editor-in-Chief of KilltheCableBill.com.
Our site is the oldest cord-cutting site you’ll find on the web – we’ve been doing this since 2011! That means, we’ve been around since the beginning of streaming. We’ve tested all the technology, and all the streaming services as they’ve come to market. We’ve visited CES to see them unveiled. We’ve spoken directly with the very people who have brought many of these options to market.
The fact is – we live and breathe this stuff. I personally study and test each option to do my best to deliver solid info to convey to you so you can make an informed decision.
Also, note that should you have any questions along the way, or should you need clarification on something I say here, feel free to reach out to me directly: helen (at) killthecablebill (dot) com. I’d love to help you out!