How to Watch NFL Games Without Cable: 11 Ways to Catch All the Action
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The new NFL season is right around the corner, and you may be wondering how to watch NFL games without cable. We kept our DirecTV contract for years too long because I thought there were no other options to get my football fix. Thankfully, there are many answers to the question of how to watch NFL without cable – some of which may even be online or for free.
Sports are the big thing that hold many back from cutting the cord. I get it. I love football myself, but it’s not worth the $110+ per month it costs to scratch that itch. Since we’ve been cable-free, I’ve found the best ways to watch NFL games without cable and I’m confident that you can find a good solution too.
How to Watch NFL Games Without Cable
There are many ways to watch NFL without cable; you just have to know what you want, the benefits and drawbacks of the top options, and how much you can save.
If you want to know how to watch NFL games online for free, here are some of the options to do that and increase your savings.
The Best Way to Watch NFL without Cable
The best way to watch NFL without cable is with an antenna. When we canceled DirecTV the reps told us we couldn’t get football games or any other shows for that matter with an antenna.
Of course they were wrong. An antenna is the cheapest way to get NFL games or any network show for that matter. After a small one-time cost, you get any local content, in HD, for free.
We have the Mohu Leaf 50, which retails for around $60 and it works great. Digital antennas start around $20 and go up from there.
Here are some of the best digital antennas on Amazon to consider if you need to cut the cord, with 1byone, Wsky, and Antennas Direct being among the best.
Having an antenna will get you any games shown on the local networks, along with Sunday Night Football on NBC and Thursday Night Football on Fox. Yes, you will be limited to the local games, but that’s enough for my liking.
How to Watch Monday Night Football without Cable
Using an antenna is a great way to watch NFL games without cable. However, you won’t get access to Monday Night Football or Thursday Night Football. Those games are on ESPN and the NFL Network (and also on Fox in most instances), respectively, so an antenna may not serve your needs.
Don’t despair. There are still ways to watch NFL without cable. The solution can be found through the growing number of streaming services that provide you access to cable channels for a significantly lower price than a standard cable bill.
I’ll give a brief synopsis below of those options, along with what packages you need with each respective plan.
Hulu with Live TV: Hulu with Live TV is a streaming service offered by Hulu. They offer one base package, which costs $39.99 per month for 60+ channels and gives you access to the ESPN family of channels, as well as the Fox Sports family of channels.
Like many other providers, Hulu with Live TV offers a free 7-day trial to test out the service.
You won’t get access to the NFL Network, but if you’re a college football fan, they do offer access to the SEC Network, not to mention the full suite of ESPN channels. Hulu with Live TV does offer a cloud-based DVR and the ability to stream on multiple devices at once to help scratch your NFL fix.
You can check out our Hulu with Live TV review for a full breakdown of the service.
Sling TV: Sling TV is one of the oldest cable streaming services available. Sling offers two base packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue – both for $25 per month.
Orange provides access to the ESPN family of networks and Blue provides access to the NFL Network, as well as the Fox Sports family of networks. If you want both channels, you must subscribe to both packages for $40 per month.
You can sign up for a free 7-day trial to test out the service to see if it works for you.
If you want access to NFL RedZone, Sling TV offers that as part of the “Sports Extra” add-on package that costs $10 per month. Sling TV offers additional features, such as a cloud-based DVR and other services. Check out our Sling TV review for a breakdown of the service.
FuboTV: FuboTV isn’t as well-known, but is another good option to get NFL games without cable.
FuboTV is $39.99 per month for the first month, then $44.99, after a 7-day free trial and gives you access to the NFL Network plus 75 other channels.
FuboTV also offers access to dozens of other sports channels for Major League Soccer, college football and more. Fubo TV also carries local channels, plus a handful of other non-sports-related channels.
DirecTV Now: As the name implies, DirecTV Now is the contract-free offshoot of DirecTV. DirecTV Now offers four packages, and you can get access to ESPN as part of their $40 per month package, which also is their cheapest monthly option.
You can sign up for a free 7-day trial to test out the service to see if it works for you.
DirecTV Now recently added access to the NFL Network so you can watch games aired on that network as well. They also offer access to other sports channels, like Fox Sports, as a part of the cheapest package.
DirecTV Now offers a variety of other services, some of which are an upgrade to Sling TV. Check out our DirecTV Now review for a full breakdown of the service.
PlayStation VUE: PlayStation VUE is another one of the older streaming services on the market. Like DirecTV Now, they offer four packages to choose from. The base package, “Access” hooks you up with ESPN for $44.99 per month. Like Sling TV, PS Vue also gives access to the NFL RedZone channel if that is a priority for you.
If you want both ESPN and the NFL Network you must move up one plan to “Core,” which costs $49.99 per month. You can also add the Sports Pack to get NFL Red Zone, and other niche sports channels for an additional $10 per month.
PlayStation VUE offers a free 5-day trial to test out the service.
I’ve not had the chance to try PS Vue, but they’re a popular option to get NFL games without cable – especially since they offer a cloud-based DVR and allow you to stream on up to five devices at once.
YouTube TV: YouTube TV is the newest streaming option to help you watch the NFL without cable. YouTube TV offers one package with 48 channels for $40 per month.
This does provide access to ESPN (no NFL Network unfortunately) but you do also get Fox Sports, the SEC Network and the Big Ten channel, among other sports channels.
The one drawback to YouTube TV is that it’s only offered in a few select cities so it may not be an option for many.
Other Options to Watch NFL Games Online
Want to watch NFL games, but want to keep the monthly cost even lower? There are other options beyond the above cable replacement services to consider. Some of the options are relatively good, while others are lacking.
Below are some of the best options to watch NFL games online.
NFL Game Pass: If you can’t watch games live, NFL Game Pass may be the option for you. For $99 per year, NFL Game Pass allows you to watch all games same day (typically delayed a few hours after airing), out-of-market games, streaming, games dating back to 2009, DVR functionality, coaches’ film, and the entire NFL Films library.
NFL Game Pass is great for the fan who wants to watch games from all over the country. It also works for a fan who lives far away from their favorite team and doesn’t mind waiting a few hours to catch their games.
If $99 seems a bit much, you can sign up for a free trial to see if you like it.
Verizon: I’m not a fan of a high-priced cell phone bill, but if you have Verizon, specifically the “More Everything” plan, you can stream NFL games for free.
The one catch? You can only stream on a phone or tablet, not on your TV. However, it does give the added bonus of allowing you to watch NFL RedZone without cable, right on your phone.
NFL Sunday Ticket: Yes, you can get the popular NFL Sunday Ticket without DirecTV – but there is a catch.
If you live in an apartment building that does not allow satellite dishes, you may be able to get the streaming version of Sunday Ticket.
The downside is that this costs $49.99 per month, so it is not really a savings. If you’re in college, the price is cut in half to $24.99 per month.
Amazon Prime: That’s right, Amazon and the NFL signed a deal earlier this year that will stream 10 Thursday games broadcasted on Fox on Amazon.
You can view those games on a variety of devices that have the Amazon Prime video app.
Sign up here to get a free 30-day trial to Amazon Prime to stream the games for free.
how to watch nfl games online free
The holy grail for many is to be able to watch NFL games online free. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to watch NFL games online for free – especially if you don’t have cable. Many online streaming options require login credentials to allow you to stream content.
In most cases that login information must be from a cable or satellite provider. Some may allow you access through the login credentials from your Internet Service Provider, but there is no guarantee.
The best bet to watch NFL games for free is to watch games over the air with an antenna, or the Verizon service.
The question of how to watch NFL games without cable has become much easier to answer over the past few years. There are many options available that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
With that in mind, don’t fall for DirecTV’s trick of offering you the NFL Sunday Ticket for “free.” Taking the free bait will cost you thousands of dollars.
In Omaha, you need to have a monthly plan that’s at least $65 per month to get NFL Sunday Ticket. That $65 is before fees and taxes, so it’ll cost you even more.
That price may seem decent, but after your first 12 months, the price will skyrocket to over $100 per month – all to get NFL Sunday Ticket. It’s not worth the price. I used to think it was until I learned I could get all the games I want without much effort.
I know it feels scary to cut the cord (here’s my complete guide on how to cut the cord) especially if you like to watch football. There are many ways to watch NFL games without cable, and most will save you big money with little sacrifice.
How do you watch NFL games without cable? Has the thought of losing the ability to watch sports the way you like kept you from cutting the cord? What other channels do you feel like you can’t live without?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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