How to Watch Football Without Cable: Online, Over the Air, & on Your Mobile Device
If you’re an NFL fan who cut the cord on expensive pay TV, you might be wondering how you can still watch NFL online without cable in 2020. Good news — thanks to new streaming services, there are more ways to watch NFL games without cable than ever before! You don’t have to miss any of the action this season.
In an effort to capture the interest of Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers, the NFL has made watching football without a cable TV subscription easier than ever. With new ways to stream football games online on your TV and on your mobile device, 2020 is shaping up to be the best year ever to watch NFL online without cable or satellite TV. The season kicked off September 5, 2019 and is now in the playoffs, and we have your guide to watching all the action!
With a multitude of solutions including OTA Antennas fuboTV (free 7-day trial), Sling TV (free 7-day trial), Hulu with Live TV (free 7-day trial), NFL Game Pass, Amazon Prime, Yahoo Sports Mobile App, Twitch, and several more; there is no longer a reason to pay the high price of cable TV. Keep reading to learn how to watch NFL online, without a cable TV subscription!
Editor’s Note: fuboTV is running a special deal right now for $10 off the first month. Check it out here.
But before we get into all the different ways to watch, I will briefly go over TV channel lineups, weekly key match-ups, and more.
The Channels You Need to Watch NFL Games Online Without Cable
When building out your cord-cutting arsenal, the first thing you need to know is what channels NFL games air on in 2019. Once you know what channels you need access too, you can build out a package that plugs all the holes, providing you a complete solution to watch NFL online.
Sunday afternoon games air on CBS and FOX, Sunday Night Football airs on NBC, Monday Night Football comes on ESPN, and Thursday Night Football TV rights are spread across NFL Network, FOX, and Amazon Prime.
Read on to learn more about which channels you need to watch NFL games and how to get them.
Thursday Night Football
This year, NFL Network will host 5 exclusive games that will only be found on that channel (a couple of these are early Sunday morning games from London under the “TNF” broadcast brand). The other 11 games will be simulcast on NFL Network, FOX, and Amazon Prime, so you can catch the games on either one of the networks.
If you already have an Amazon Prime account, you can watch Thursday Night Football for free by simply opening up the Prime Video app on most Thursday evenings (remember that a couple of TNF games will only be on NFL Network). If you don’t have it, you can catch the game on FOX or NFL Network by using a streaming service like Sling TV (carries NFL Network), fuboTV (carries both NFL Network and FOX) or Hulu with Live TV (carries FOX in most markets). Keep reading to learn how!
Sunday football games air on CBS and FOX during the afternoon and on NBC for Sunday Night Football. Plus you have the NFL RedZone Channel, which offers nonstop coverage of every red zone drive in real-time all throughout the afternoon on Sundays (a great option for fantasy football fans or those who just want to keep tabs on all the action around the league). The good news is you can watch NFL games without cable all day Sunday!
You can watch these local channels live with an antenna if you live in an area where you can get good reception(see below), or with a streaming service such as Hulu with Live TV. I’ll cover the details of these streaming options below.
Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football airs exclusively on ESPN, normally at 8:15 pm ET although there is a doubleheader the first week of the season where the start times are 7:10 pm ET and 10:20 pm ET respectively.
You can watch MNF games easily with a variety of services. The most affordable is Sling TV, which carries ESPN for just $30 a month. Keep reading to learn more!
13 Ways to Watch NFL Online without Cable
Now that you know what channels you need (CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, NFL Network Channel, and NFL Redzone are the main ones) let’s take a look at all the different ways you can access those channels and watch NFL without cable over-the-air, streaming on your TV, and via your mobile device.
1. HULU Live TV – Watch NFL Games Online + TONS of Entertainment
At a Glance: $45 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 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 only has 5 exclusive games throughout the whole season.
Sunday Football: NBC, CBS and FOX are all offered in the vast majority of areas around the US. Hulu with Live TV has the best coverage of these networks out of any online streaming service. So, it’s an excellent choice for football fans to watch NFL Sunday afternoon and night.
Monday Night Football: ESPN is included nationwide, so you’ll be able to watch every MNF game, plus everything else ESPN has to offer!
Thursday Night Football: FOX will host 11 of the 16 TNF games this season, so you’ll be able to watch those 11. NFL Network is not included, so you’ll miss the 5 games that air exclusively on that network.
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!
2. fuboTV – Watch Sunday Football Online + Tons of Other Sports
At a glance: $55/month with no contract gets you 90+ channels that mostly focus on sports (and there’s a free 7-day trial to test out). Get NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NBC, CBS, and FOX in many areas. No ESPN, however. 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 2019 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. It costs $55 per month, with no contract required.
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. However, ESPN is missing from the lineup, so no Monday Night Football, unfortunately. But other than MNF, you can watch all NFL games in your market all season long.
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.
3. Sling TV – Sunday, Monday, Thursday Night Football on the Cheap
At a glance: $30 per month (with a free 7-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, giving you NFL Network and NFL RedZone. 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.
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 login 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. Click here to learn more about Sling TV.
When getting things set up it is important to have everything right at your fingertips. Sling TV Support is best handled through their support line: 888-893-9069, but they also provide support via Twitter: @SlingAnswers
To jump right in and test the waters, try their 7-day free trial.
4. Over-the-Air Broadcasts – Watching Football Over-the-Air (OTA)
While it’s not technically a way to watch NFL online, most local NFL games will be broadcast over the air, in HD, on network channels like CBS, FOX, and NBC. In other words, you can watch NFL games without cable for free in many cases as long as you get decent reception where you live! 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.
Just like with Cable TV, the games you will have access to will depend entirely on where you live. Unlike national broadcasts, finding out which regional game will air in your area, in advance, can be a little difficult when you don’t have a cable subscription; but I have a solution.
NFL OTA Schedule
To solve this issue, there is a fantastic website called 506 Sports which provides complete geo-based NFL broadcast schedules a few days before the live games; making it a little bit easier to plan out your weekend.
Once you have an antenna set up, you should be able pick up the available networks in your area. If you’re lucky that could mean solid access to NBC, CBS, and FOX which together covers ton of NFL action. However, keep in mind that this method won’t get you ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, etc, so it’s not a complete solution.
Sunday Football is broadcasted for FREE over the air, in HD, on NBC (Sunday night) and CBS and FOX (Sunday afternoon). That means all you need is an over-the-air antenna to watch Sunday Football for Free. To make sure you don’t miss any of the action, learn how to build or purchase an OTA DVR.
Monday Night Football
An OTA antenna will not help you watch Monday Night Football, as these games air on ESPN. To solve this issue you will need to sign up for a streaming service that carries ESPN like Sling TV or Hulu with Live TV. Details below.
Thursday Night Football
The Thursday Night Football schedule features 11 games on FOX which will be simulcast on NFL Network (and Amazon Prime), and five NFL Network exclusive games. With an antenna, you will be able to watch the 11 TNF games on FOX, but not the 5 exclusive NFL Network games.
Buying an Antenna
Figuring out what kind of Over-the-Air (OTA) antenna you should buy can be a little bit tricky. Like all electronic equipment, OTA antennas can range from dirt cheap to stupidly expensive. But don’t be fooled by the price tag, just like with HDMI cables, an expensive digital antenna isn’t always the best choice.
If you’re looking for quality at a reasonable price, go with Mohu, Channels Master or Antennas Direct (as previously mentioned). These antennas are unmatched in quality and are offered at a very affordable price point.
Mohu specifically, started out making 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).
“…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
Build Your Own Antenna
If you don’t like these online choices, and you’re feeling a little adventurous, here’s an excellent tutorial on how to make your own indoor digital antenna using a coat hanger.
Would I bet my season of Football viewing on a coat hanger? No, but if you are really on a budget, this is an option.
To sum up: an OTA antenna will pick up the broadcast channels in your area. Depending on where you live, this could mean FOX/CBS/NBC and more, or it could mean nothing. If you live in a populated area, you should get the big channels and be able to watch a good amount of live football for free.
5. NFL Game Pass – Every Game All Year (On-Demand Replays)
At a glance: $99 to watch NFL online for a whole season (with a free 7-day trial) gets you on-demand replays of all regular season games, plus live coverage of out-of-market preseason games. Note that live coverage is NOT offered during the regular season, but replays can be watched for all 256 games of the season.
NFL Game Pass is by far one of the best ways to catch NFL football without cable – if you don’t mind waiting for on-demand replays. With the service, you can watch all 256 regular season NFL games (on-demand replays), live out-of-market preseason games, plus a bunch of other awesome extras – for only $99 a season (with a 7 Day Free Trial).
The only catch (and it is a big one) is that you cannot watch regular season games in real-time. You instead gain access to on-demand recordings of the games shortly after the live airing ends. Great if you hate commercials, and don’t mind waiting a few hours to watch your favorite team.
One more benefit worth mentioning is that with NFL Game Pass you watch NFL PreSeason games live out of market. Not a big selling point in my opinion, but it’s there if you want it.
Check out my in-depth NFL Game Pass review for more info.
6. Amazon Prime – Thursday Night Football
At a Glance: Amazon Prime subscribers can now watch 11 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. The streaming service now shares streaming rights with FOX and NFL Network. For the 2019 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.
Thursday Night Football
If you have a subscription to Amazon Prime, you will be able to live stream all 11 of the Thursday Night Football games that air on FOX.
If you do not have Amazon Prime, what are you waiting for? The benefits greatly outweigh the cost. Get started today with a free 30-day trial.
7. Live NFL on the NFL Mobile App – Free Way to Watch NFL Online on Mobile
At a Glance: The NFL Mobile App is a free mobile device app that anyone can download to check scores, watch highlighted clips, and even stream live in-market football. However, you can only use it on mobile devices, making this a good option for those looking to watch NFL online on-the-go.
NFL Mobile is one of the most inexpensive ways to catch NFL football around, although it’s fairly limited in what it offers for free. As of 2018, the NFL has completely rebuilt its NFL Mobile app. For the 2019 NFL season, it’ll be a good tool to supplement other NFL coverage sources.
The NFL Mobile App has many completely free features that are useful for football fans. You can check scores and standings, view detailed schedules, watch highlight clips, follow teams, and much more. If you have a pay TV subscription, you can also access lots of live streaming on the app. This guide from LifeWire goes into more detail about how to use the NFL Mobile App to your advantage this season.
Unfortunately for people wanting to stream NFL Mobile to their TV, there are a lot of barriers in the way. If you try to stream from your phone to the TV, NFL Mobile will detect the screencast and shut you down. The app is meant for mobile streaming only.
8. PlayStation Vue – NFL Coverage for Most Games + Entertainment
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, PlayStation Vue is now shutting down.
At a Glance: For $55 per month (with a free 5-day trial) you can get a package of 50+ great channels that covers nearly every NFL game of the season. It also includes tons of entertainment, news and more!
PlayStation Vue is a great service for cord-cutters. They have plans starting at $50 a month, but for NFL fans we recommend the $55 package because it has more sports channels. This package includes ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC, NFL Network, and much more. That means you’ll be able to watch nearly every football game of the season, including Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Sunday afternoon games, and Sunday Night Football. In other words, it’s a fantastic way to watch NFL games without cable.
And when there are no games on, Vue offers tons of options for the whole family. Everything from the latest TV shows to the nightly news is one Vue, and you can watch on all your favorite devices! Check out our PlayStation Vue review for more info, or get started with a free 5-day trial!
9. CBS All Access – Live Football on Sunday (CBS-Only)
At a Glance: For just $5.99 a month (with a free 7-day trial), CBS All Access provides live streaming access to CBS. Since CBS will host a lot of NFL games this season, this is an easy way to catch many live games at a budget-friendly price.
If you don’t have an antenna, don’t want an antenna, or just find yourself unable to access OTA television; check out CBS All Access. For $6 a month, CBS All Access (overview article) gives you live streaming access to CBS television, including LIVE NFL Games that air on the network.
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
Restrictions do apply, so read the fine print to make sure live NFL games will air in your area.
10. NFL Sunday Ticket – Every Game All Year (Very Limited Availability)
At a Glance: 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.
11. AT&T TV NOW – Sunday, Monday, Thursday Night Football
At a Glance: For $65 per month (with a free 7-day trial), you get ESPN, plus FOX, and NBC in many areas. You’ll get 45+ channels in total, including premium networks like HBO.
Watching NFL on AT&T TV NOW (formerly DIRECTV Now) is another option for cord-cutting sports fans. Their base package costs $65 a month, and you get ESPN, FOX, NBC. They used to carry CBS but are currently in the middle of a contract dispute at the time of this writing. We expect they’ll eventually resolve this and add CBS back to their lineup, but that’s not the case just yet.
This means you can watch some Sunday Football, Monday Night Football, and even Thursday Night Football when it airs on FOX. NFL Network is not included, so you’ll miss some of the games airing exclusively on that network.
AT&T TV NOW works on most streaming devices, so it’s easy to use. Got questions about all the different streaming devices on the market? Make sure you check out our full streaming device comparison page.
It’s also worth noting that AT&T released another streaming service, AT&T TV. This offering is different than AT&T NOW in a number of ways. First of all, it’s only currently available in a handful of locations such as Corpus Christi, El Paso, Odessa, Riverside, Orange, West Palm Beach, Wichita, Topeka, St. Louis, and Springfield. The service more closely mirrors traditional cable and satellite, as it requires a special streaming box from AT&T, a two-year contract, and higher cable-like pricing. On top of that, NFL and other sports fans should note that the service doesn’t offer certain channels their other services like NFL Network, NFL Sunday Ticket, AT&T Sports Net.
12. NFL Yahoo Sports App
At a Glance: The Yahoo Sports App provides a limited amount of free NFL streaming with no requirements. There are some restrictions on when and where you can watch, but hey – free is free!
The league has made a groundbreaking decision, finally dropping the requirement that you sign up for a cable or satellite subscription to watch live NFL games (press release). All you need to do is download the Yahoo Sports App and tune in to a live feed of the game airing in your area. The change was made in the hopes that people who will never sign up for Cable, still catch the fever, and gain an addition to the NFL as many of us already have. Yahoo also has plans to stream NFL games through their fantasy football app in the 2019 season.
The major downside is that you cannot watch NFL games on your big screen through Yahoo. Additionally, when I tested it out myself, I was not able to watch the game in full-screen horizontal view. The app forced me to watch in a vertical view, which greatly decreased the size of the viewing screen. But I spoke to a friend on Twitter who was able to stream the game in horizontal view on the Yahoo App… so let me know in the comments if it works for you! Find out more about the app here.
13. NFL on Twitch
In a bit of an odd twist, Twitch viewers will now be able to watch 11 NFL games in 2019, with a big thanks to Amazon’s renewed streaming deal with the NFL. These are the same games that will air on Amazon Prime, and the agreement runs through the 2019 season.
This is yet another free way to watch NFL without cable.
How to 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).
Watching Live NFL on a Plane
I tested this out last season as I headed to NY from San Jose CA, on a Virgin plane, through Alaska Airlines and here is what I learned.
The first thing you need to know is that all planes are not created equal, and this is especially true when it comes to streaming live video.
I started my trip by signing up for Virgin’s GoGo internet service., and it cost me $25 for the trip. Expensive? YES, very. But worth it? Let’s find out.
After signing up I was curious about how fast the internet speed was. Here are a few screenshots from my mobile device after signing up for the GoGo Internet Service:
I averaged about a 3 Mbps download speed. Not a good sign, but I was not ready to give up.
At this point, I know I am going to have a tough time streaming football while in flight, but this is too important so I move on to finding and testing out a few different NFL streaming services.
First I try the free option, Yahoo Sports App. What I find is that because they cannot pinpoint my location via GPS, while I am hurdling through the air at 575 mph, they won’t let me access any of the games.
Lame. Ok, on to options two; I sign up for NFL Mobile Apps Redzone package which costs $4.99 a month.
This seems to work for a second but then turns into a blurry image that is unwatchable and freezes constantly.
So now I am getting pretty frustrated. I reach out to GoGo on Twitter and get the following response:
Argh.. Nice to get my money back but I am dying here, I need to watch the first week of Football!
Not willing to give up I try one last option; I sign up for TuneIn. I figure, if I can watch, maybe I can at least listen to a game or two. What I find out is amazing.
I sign up for the service and navigate to a show called 1st and Goal and it is exactly what I was looking for. Think NFL RedZone for your ears! You get to listen to every scoring play as it unfolds, featuring live broadcasts and real-time analysis of every game from 10 am – 5 pm PST, every Sunday. Problem Solved.
This service is awesome! Completely saved the day.
So my advice for anyone hoping to watch NFL Football on your next plane flight, call your airline and find out what the streaming capabilities are on the actual aircraft you will be riding on. As I stated earlier, all planes are not created equally, and the older models will not support live video streaming.
It’s Easy 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.
Are you aware of any ways to watch NFL online without cable 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 and pages that you will find helpful:
- 2019 NFL Schedule
- 2019 TNF Schedule
- 2019 MNF Schedule
- 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
- How to Get Rid of Cable TV
- Pro Bowl Guide
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