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How to Watch the Puppy Bowl Online Without Cable (2021)

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There is one annual sports event that everyone can get behind whether they like sports or not, and that’s the Puppy Bowl! It’s hard not to enjoy the cuteness of the shelter dogs that are competing. And this year, you can easily watch the Puppy Bowl without cable.

In a hurry? If you have no time and just need to watch the Puppy Bowl live, any of these services will work great:

  • Hulu + Live TV: This great overall entertainment package includes 85+ live channels and an outstanding on-demand library. Try it free for one week!
  • FuboTV: If you are also a sports fan, FuboTV is a great choice with over 100 channels including 35+ sports-focused ones. Use it’s free 7-day trial!
  • Philo: If you are on a budget, this is the way to go — no sports or local but 60+ channels including all 3 Discovery Channels. Try it for 7 days free!

Come that Sunday in February, many American households will have a party atmosphere, ready to watch the hotly-anticipated matchup, root for their favorite teams and players, watch the pregame shows, speculate on the half-time program, and hope someone poops on the field or steps in the water dish. Wait — what??

Welcome to the Puppy Bowl, Animal Planet’s annual send-up to the Super Bowl. And, wow, do they go all-in on the parody:

  • Pun penalties (“paws” interference) called by an on-field referee
  • Sponsored exhibition facility (the GEICO Puppy Bowl Stadium)
  • Slo-mo replays
  • Pregame specials (Puppy Bowl: Inside the Bowl)
  • Kitten half-time show
  • Celebrity tailgates (2021 featured Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg)
  • Live-“tweeting” cockatiel
  • Model blimp “piloted” by hamsters
  • Water-dish cam
  • Variety of species as “cheerleaders” (bunnies, pigs, hedgehogs, goats, armadillos, and penguins, to name a few)
  • Mascots.

When puppies playing with toys on a fake football field is the main premise, it’s hard to go wrong. And when the cause is shelter and rescue animal adoption, you don’t have to feel guilty about wallowing in the cuteness.

You also don’t need a cable company to see whether Team Fluff takes back the Lombarky Trophy in 2022, or if Team Ruff can top their amazing comeback in the fourth quarter last year.

Read on to find out how.

Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet

Others have attempted to copy the Puppy Bowl’s success. In 2014, Hallmark Channel launched the Kitten Bowl and National Geographic Wild premiered the Fish Bowl. But only Animal Planet has had runaway success.

NFL Films, the studio that does the official in-house documentaries on all NFL properties, produced a “Making Of” featurette on its canine counterpart. And the 2021 game’s score and highlights were reported on by the sports divisions of NBC, CBS, and Fox as well as ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

While no one exactly takes it seriously — Puppies, remember? — in its eighteenth year, it is appropriately acknowledged for the genuine phenomenon in its own right that it is.

Animal Planet is one of the core channels of Discovery Inc, along with Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, TLC, and Investigation Discovery (ID). Other Discovery properties include BBC America, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery Family, DIY Network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Science, and Travel Channel.

Curiosity Stream is a channel of on-demand documentaries founded by John Hendricks, who was the original founder of Discovery Inc.

In order to watch the Puppy Bowl — or any other Animal Planet show — you used to need a cable subscription. Now, though, there’s an alternative: OTT (over-the-top) streaming services that provide the same channels without annoying installation appointments, super high prices, or long-term commitments.

Read on to see which services offer Animal Planet.

Puppy Bowl Page
Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl page.

Streaming Services with Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet

Discovery is ubiquitous, which is good for you because it means all the major streaming services except Sling TV carry Animal Planet — and the other main Discovery channels — in their base packages. Read on to see what other channels might interest you.

FuboTV

fubotv logo

FuboTV is a great service for sports fans and puppy fans alike. Fubo’s Starter plan provides over 100 channels for $64.99/mo. This includes all your local networks, Animal Planet and the main Discovery channels, Hallmark Channel, OWN, and Travel Channel.

Go for the Elite plan for $79.99/mo and you’ll also pick up Cooking Channel, Curiosity Stream, Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery Family, DIY Network, National Geographic Wild, and Science. You can also get the extra channels with the Fubo Extra add-on for $7.99/mo.

All plans come with a seven-day free trial, at least 250 hours of cloud DVR storage, and simultaneous streaming on up to 3 devices.

See our FuboTV review for details.

Hulu + Live TV

hulu logo

Hulu + Live TV offers over 85 live channels, including all your local broadcast network affiliates, Animal Planet, and the core Discovery channels for $64.99/mo. Sign up for Hulu Live’s Entertainment Add-on and you’ll also enjoy Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery Family, DIY Network, and Science.

Hulu offers a free trial for 7 days, 50 hours of cloud DVR, and streaming on up to 2 devices at the same time. It does not currently carry the Hallmark Channel or Curiosity Stream.

Our Hulu + Live TV review has more information.

Philo

philo logo

Philo doesn’t have any sports networks or local channels in its 60+ channel lineup, but it does have Animal Planet!

Only $25/mo, it also includes the main Discovery channels, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery Family, DIY Network, Hallmark Channel, OWN, Science, and Travel Channel.

It features unlimited cloud DVR storage, streaming on up to 3 screens at a time, and a 7-day free trial. It does not currently carry National Geographic Wild or Curiosity Stream.

See more in our Philo review.

Vidgo

vidgo logo

Vidgo is a two-tiered service perfect for families and college sports fans (and college sports fan families). Their base plan, Vidgo Plus, is $55/mo for over 85 channels, including Animal Planet and the main Discovery channels, Curiosity Stream, DIY Network, Hallmark Channel, National Geographic Wild, OWN, and Travel Channel.

Vidgo Premium is $79.99/mo and adds Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Life, and Discovery Family, among others, to the lineup. You can stream on up to 3 screens at a time. But there is no DVR functionality or on-demand content. Broadcast networks are limited to Fox and ABC.

There’s no free trial but the first month is $10. See our Vidgo review for more information.

Vidgo HGTV
Vidgo offers a broad selection of live TV channels including Animal Planet.

DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream

The DirecTV Stream (Formerly AT&T TV) Entertainment plan is $69.99/mo for roughly 80 channels, including Animal Planet and the Discovery channels listed above plus your local broadcast channels.

The next tier, Choice, is $84.99/mo and you get all the Entertainment channels and Cooking Channel, OWN, Science, Travel Channel, and regional sports networks (RSNs). Destination America, Discovery Life, Discovery Family, DIY Network, and National Geographic Wild are all on the Ultimate tier ($94.99/mo).

All DirecTV Stream channels come with 20 hours of cloud DVR storage and the ability to stream on up to 20 devices simultaneously.

For more information, see our DirecTV Stream review.

Other Ways to Stream Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet

There are other options for streaming Animal Planet content:

  • Discovery+: Streaming service featuring original programming and classics from across all the Discovery brands — including Animal Planet and the Puppy Bowl. You can sign up for a 7 day free trial, after which it’s as low as $4.99/mo.
  • YouTubeTV: Animal Planet is one of the over 85 channels they offer for a comparable service to Hulu + Live TV; it’s also priced at $64.99/mo.
  • Animal Planet Website and App: There are some episodes free to watch — sadly, not the Puppy Bowl. The best and most recent content requires a TV provider.

TVs and Streaming Devices for the Puppy Bowl

Most streaming devices in use (and probably the ones you own) are supported by most streaming services. For example, everyone supports the standard TV devices:

Android and iOS mobile devices are also universally supported. So are web browsers. And you can use them to cast the Puppy Bowl to your TV with Chromecast.

Other than DirecTV Stream, they all support Android TV-based devices.

FuboTV Discovery Channel
Android fun running FuboTV with Discovery Channel.

Philo and Vidgo do not support Samsung smart TVs but the other service do. Hulu + Live TV and FuboTV both support LG and Vizio smart TVs. FuboTV also supports Hisense TVs. Hulu and FuboTV also support the Xbox One gaming console. And Hulu supports the PlayStation.

For a complete list, see our review for the streaming service you are interested in.

Wrapping Up

It doesn’t matter if you watch because you like football-puppy puns or you like Dan Schachner (veteran Puppy Bowl ref of nine years), or — oh, hell, you don’t need a reason. It’s puppies! On a tiny football field! Playing with toys and each other!

Seriously, if there is one thing everyone can still agree on — maybe the only thing — it’s that puppies are irresistibly cute, and cable companies aren’t. So keep the Puppy Bowl and ditch your cable company by signing up with one of the streaming services discussed above.

FAQs

What other shows can I watch on Animal Planet?

Since its launch in 1996, Animal Planet has always featured documentaries and reality shows about animals and animal-related occupations. There was an unfortunate decade from 2008 through 2018 when, to boost viewership, management decided they needed to turn the “edgy” up to 11 and emphasize the killer instead of the cute of the animal kingdom. And this hit a real low point with a documentary on mermaids in 2012.

In 2018 they returned to their nature documentary roots, though some series from the previous era (such as River Monsters) remain. Some popular shows, past and current:

  • The Zoo
  • The Zoo: San Diego
  • Pitbulls & Parolees
  • Crikey! It’s the Irwins
  • River Monsters
  • Born Mucky: Life on the Farm.

How did someone come up with Puppy Bowl?

The origin of Puppy Bowl is a funny story! Back in 2005, the New England Patriots were up against the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Florida for Super Bowl XXXIX. The Super Bowl and its surrounding programming dominate the day, especially in terms of advertising; most channels have long since given up competing.

So the Animal Planet execs were in a room discussing what they should air for Super Bowl Sunday, and one of them says — and I’m paraphrasing — “Screw it! Put a camera on some puppies on a miniature football field and call it a day.” Nobody had any better ideas, so they tried it out. That was Puppy Bowl I, and the rest, as they say, is history.

How do they get the puppies to play the game?

We don’t wish to upset anyone but the Puppy Bowl is staged. What you watch as the Puppy Bowl is not like the other Big Game. Production for it starts the August before with the selection of the puppies (there’s no shortage of prospective players from shelters around the country).

Shooting takes place over 2 or 3 days in October, divided up by animal species (cats, dogs, other animals). About 53 hours are shot with 15 cameras, producing thousands of hours of footage. In addition, 45-80 puppies are used, with only 10-15 permitted on the field at any one time, and are rotated out in 20-30 minute shifts.

All the footage is then edited together, taking the best action and cutest moments, to create the semblance of a seamless game.

Does Animal Planet do anything else like this?

Puppy Bowl is not the only animal-themed sporting event! Back during the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, Animal Planet presented the Puppy Games, with kittens for the Opening Ceremony. It also featured puppies “competing” in a number of events including swimming, soccer, boxing, and gymnastics.

Then, starting in 2018, since the Puppy Bowl is so wildly successful at getting puppies adopted, the Dog Bowl, featuring dogs ages 2 to 15, debuted the day before Super Bowl Sunday to promote adoption of older dogs, which can be even harder to place. Dog Bowls II and III followed in 2019 and 2020.

How can I watch things other than the Puppy Bowl?

The Puppy Bowl comes but once a year. What else will you enjoy? Whatever it is, you can do it without cable. These guides show you how to watch different entertainment channels:

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