5 Ways to Watch NFL Football without Cable TV

How to Watch Football Without Cable

NFL Online, OTA, & on Your Mobile Device

Did I say 5 Ways to Watch? Ohh sorry, I meant 13 Ways to Watch Football Without Cable. Sorry if you were expecting the bare minimum.

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 local and primetime games online and on your mobile device, 2018 is shaping up to be the best year ever to watch NFL without a cable subscription.

With a multitude of solutions including OTA Antennas, Amazon Prime, Yahoo Sports Mobile App, Twitch, NFL Mobile App, Fubo TV, Sling TV and several more; there is no longer a reason to pay the high price of cable TV. 


how to watch nfl without cable

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 has never been easier to watch your favorite team without having to buy some expensive package from the cable companies.

To make sure you don’t miss a game this season, here’s how you can watch the NFL without cable.

But before we get into all the different ways to watch, I will briefly go over TV channel lineups, our NFL Streaming Matrix, weekly key match-ups,  and the Thursday Night Football schedule.

The Channels You Need to Watch NFL Games Without Cable

When building out your cord-cutting arsenal, the first thing you need to know is what channels NFL games air on in 2018. 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.

Thursday Night Football

TNF airs on a few different channels, depending on the week (NFL Network, FOX, & Amazon Prime (press release). Check out a complete Thursday Night Football TV schedule below. >> 2018 TNF Schedule

In 2017 Amazon Prime streamed 11 TNF games, and in 2016 Twitter streamed 10 games. Neither the NFL or Amazon has announced the streaming rights for the 2018 Thursday Night Football, but some have reported that the first game will Week 4, Sept. 27: Vikings at Rams.

Sunday Football

Sunday Football airs on NBC, CBS, and FOX. Plus you have the NFL RedZone Channel, which offers nonstop coverage of every red zone drive in real time. >> 2018 NFL Schedule

Monday Night Football

MNF airs exclusively on ESPN >> 2018 MNF Schedule


13 Ways to Watch NFL without Cable

Now that you know what channels you need (CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, Network Channel, Amazon Prime, & NFL Redzone) let’s take a look at all the different ways you can access those channels both over-the-air, online, and via your mobile device.

1. Over-the-Air Broadcasts – Watching Football Over-the-Air (OTA)

Watch Football with Antenna

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.

My suggested retailers include Amazon, Mohu, Channel Master and Antennas Direct.

Just like with Cable TV,  the games you will have access too 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 for 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.

NFL OTA Schedule

If you are curious about how Regional vs National NFL Broadcasts work, check out this great article on BGR called The definitive guide to watching NFL football without cable.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Sunday Football is broadcasted for FREE over the air, in HD, on NBC, CBS, or FOX.  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 FootballWatch Football without Cable

Typically an OTA antenna will not help you watch Monday Night Football, as most of these games air on ESPN. To solve this issue you will need to sign up for a streaming service. Detail below.

Thursday Night Football
Watch NFL without Cable

The 13-game Thursday Night Football schedule features 11 games on FOX which will be simulcast on NFL Network, and two NFL Network exclusive games.

For the 2018 season, FOX will produce 13 games, 11 of which will be simulcasted on FOX and the NFL Network; with the reaming 2 games airing exclusively on the NFL Network.

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 a good one.

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_hdr

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) and 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

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 hurting financially, this is an excellent option.


Watching Football Online

Before we begin, you need to know that online access to broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS & FOX) are only available in certain geographical areas; so, test out these free trials asap to make sure there are no surprises come game day.

2. Fubo.TV – Watch Sunday Football Online

NFL Network Redzone Fubo TV

Fubo TV makes the top spot on my list of ways to watch NFL Games online. Offering everything you need for $35 a month, Fubo TV is a one-stop shop Cord Cutter’s paradise.

Fubo TV NFL Online

With over 75 channels of live sports, TV shows, movies, including FOX, NBC, NFL Network, and Redzone, you have almost everything you need.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Watch NFL without CableNFL RedZone

Stop what you are doing, and just sign up for a free trial. You will not regret it.

3. NFL Game Pass – Every Game All Year

NFL Game Pass

NFL Game Pass (overview article) is by far one of the best ways to catch NFL football without cable. With NFL Game Pass, you can watch all 256 regular season NFL 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 Gamepassreal-time. You instead gain access to the games the moment the live airing ends. Great if you hate commercials, and don’t mind waiting a few hours to watch your favorite team.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

One more benefit worth mentioning is that with NFL Game Pass you get all the PreSeason Games Live. Not a big selling point in my opinion, but it’s there if you want it. To check out the 2017 PreSeason Schedule click here.

To read a more robust review check out: How to Watch NFL Games Online with NFL Game Pass


4. Sling TV – Sunday, Monday, Thursday Night Football

Sling TV comes with a cloud DVR and offers few different packages, depending on the number of channels you want. Here is a full overview of Sling TV if you still have questions after reading the below.

Oh ya, did I mention Sling TV offers HBO?!!!

Watch Hard Knows without Cable

Orange Package – Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football is the one day of the week cord-cutting football fans have dreaded, until now. For $20 a month, you can sign up for Sling TV‘s cheapest subscription plan (Orange) 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.

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Blue Package – Sunday and Thursday Night Football

With their Blue package, you can get FOX, NBC (select markets), NFL Network and the RedZone Channel.  All you need to do is sign up for the $25 a month Blue subscription and purchase the $5 Sports Extra add-on. The only downside is that you won’t get ESPN; so its a bit of a calculated choice. Watch RedZone Without Cable

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. You are talking Sunday Football, with RedZone, and every Thursday Night game for $25 a month. Can’t beat it.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Watch NFL without CableNFL RedZone

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

If you’d like an in-depth overview of Sling TV to read “What is Sling TV?”. To jump right in and test the waters, try their 7-day free trial.


5. DirecTV Now – Sunday, Monday, Thursday Night Football

Watching NFL on DirecTV Now (overview article) is another great option for cord cutting sports fans. Now with a cloud DVR, their bases package costs $35 a month, and you get ESPN, FOX, NBC. This means you can watch Sunday Football, Monday Night Football, and even Thursday Night Football when it airs on NBC.

Due to the highly competitive price point, and the extensive list of channels you get, DirecTV Now is the hottest streaming service on the market. Free Trial

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Got questions about all the different streaming devices on the market? Make sure you check out our full streaming device comparison page.


6. NFL Sunday Ticket – Every Game All Year

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.

suntixThe package they offer is called NFL Sunday Ticket 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. 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 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 $69.99 a month for four months. In total that’s $279.96 for the four months.

The second, and most expensive, plan is called Max and costs $94.99 for four months ($379.96 total). The Max plan is identical to the first plan, except that you also get the RedZone Channel and Direct TV Fantasy Zone. You 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.


7. Live NFL on the NFL Mobile App – Sunday Monday and Thursday Night Football

nflmNFL Mobile is one of the most inexpensive ways to catch NFL football around. As of 2018, the NFL has completely rebuilt its NFL Mobile app.

As a key part of the update, all mobile users (not just Verizon subscribers) gain the ability to live stream TNF, Sunday, and MNF, with the option to pay for NFL RedZone on Sundays.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Watch NFL without CableNFL RedZone

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 RedZone; which features every touchdown from every game on Sunday. The app no longer requires a Verizon wireless plan; so if you don’t have Verizon, you’re in luck.

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.

Watch Football without Cable

Watch on your Big Screen TV

If you have an android phone and Google Chromecast, however, you may be able to 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.

Again, there are limitations with even this option and I am not sure how long the NFL will allow it. In fact, just today (8/21/17) I heard from several people who said this no longer works. So this could be a solution for last year that is no longer viable. Plus, if you are an HD / picture quality snob like I am, you may miss the crystal-clear signal some of these other services offer.


8. Amazon Prime – Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime

Replacing Twitter in 2016, as the NFL’s online streaming partner of choice, Amazon Prime is now the online streaming home of Thursday Night Football.

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

If you have a subscription to Amazon Prime, you will be able to live stream all ten of the Thursday Night Football games that air on CBS and NBC.

Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football

If you do not have Amazon Prime, what are you waiting for? The benefits greatly outweigh the cost. Get started today

What Happen to Twitter NFL Coverage?

After the 2016 season, Twitter gave up their rights to stream Thursday Night Football when Amazon agreed to a record-breaking deal valued at an estimated $50 million (up from the $10 million Twitter last year).

To recoup, Twitter is still working with the NFL to bring a new, 30-minute live show called #NFLBlitz.

This new NFL News show will air Monday – Thursday (September 4-7).  Then staring on September 10th #NFLBlitz will run Monday – Thursdays at 4 PM PT for the remainder of the 2017 NFL Season.

Twitter will also simulcast live coverage of NFL Media’s Fantasy Gameday that airs on Sunday mornings during the regular season.

To watch these shows simply follow @TwitterSports on Twitter or search the hashtag #NFLBlitz.


9. PlayStation Vue – Thursday Night Football

Access Plan

Now available across the US, PlayStation Vue is offering nearly 50 channels for $49 a month, dubbed the Access plan. This is $10 more than their competitor, Sling TV, but they do also provide ESPN in their base package.

PS Vue NFL

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Core Plan

For an extra $5 a month you can sign up for the Core plan and get additional channels, including the NFL Network.


10. CBS All Access – Live Football on Sunday

CBS All Access Live NFL

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.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

By no means is it comprehensive, but it’s only $5.99 a month so its a good low-cost option for those of you that want to live stream the NFL.  Start your Free Trial Today

Restrictions do apply, so read the fine print to make sure live NFL games will air in your area.


11.  HULU Live TV – Sunday, Monday and Thursday Night Football

What is Hulu Live TV

Hulu has a brand new service called Hulu Live TV (overview article). It is only available in select areas and is technically in beta. For $40 a month you get access to 55+ channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC & ESPN, and it comes with DVR capabilities. This means you can pretty much watch football all week long.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Here is the catch: First of all live games won’t play on your smartphone to some sort of contractual issue. Secondly, locally-televised NFL games may be subject to blackouts – depending on where you live.  To see all the channels available in your area use their Zip Code search tool.

12. NFL Yahoo Mobile – Times are a changing

Yahoo-Sports-NFL

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.

Sunday FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Monday Night FootballWatch NFL without Cable

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Watch Football without Cable

Watch on your Big Screen TV

The only downside is that you cannot watch the games on your big screen. 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!

13. NFL on Twitch

In a bit of an odd twist, Twitch viewers will now be able to watch 11 NFL games in 2018, with a big thanks to Amazon’s renewed streaming deal with the NFL.

Watch NFL without Cable

Thursday Night Football

Watch Football without Cable

Watch on your Big Screen TV

As mentioned previously, Amazon Prime Video will stream 11 TNF games this year, starting Sept. 27, when the Minnesota Vikings travel to LA take on the Rams.

Well, the twist is that these games will also be available on Twitch for non-Amazon Prime subscribers. This yet another free way to watch NFL without cable.


BONUS SECTION

How to Listen to Live NFL Games

NFL on TuneIn

NFL on TuneInSometimes 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 on 09.09.2018 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:

Watch NFL on PlaneI 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.

Yahoo Sports App

Lame. Ok, on to options two;  I sign up for NFL Mobile Apps Redzone package which costs $4.99 a month.

NFL Redzone on a Plane

This seems to work for a second but then turns into a blurry image that is unwatchable and freezes constantly.

Football Cant stream

So now I am getting pretty frustrated. I reach out to GoGo on Twitter and get the following response:

GoGo Internet Service

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.

1st and Goal on TuneIn

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.  If you can, switch flights, and if you can’t you always got TuneIn.

Cord Cutting Fantasy Football

If you are concerned about missing a game and love Fantasy Football,  make sure you read: Cut the Cord but Keep your Fantasy Football Team


NFL Streaming Matrix

Below is a Cord Cutting NFL Matrix that will allow you to navigate, an otherwise confusing list option.

Click the image below to see exactly which channels are offered by each streaming service: 

Watch NFL Without Cable TV

Restrictions do an apply, so once you have an idea as to which services you are interested in, keep reading to learn more about the fine print.

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 cableHere are some additional articles that you will find helpful:

  1. How to Watch College Football Online & OTA
  2. What is OTA (Over-the-Air)
  3. Watch Live Sports Online? Or is OTA a Better Idea?
  4. Sky HDTV Outdoor Antenna from Mohu
  5. Football is Even Better When it is Free
  6. Watching NFL for Free
  7. Thursday Night Football for Free in HD

10+ More Articles on Watching Free HD TV with an Antenna

NFL on FuboTV

10

Over All Rating

10.0/10

Pros

  • RedZone
  • ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC
  • ESPN
  • NFL NETWORK

Comments

comments