8 Ways to Watch Live NFL Games After You’ve Ditched Cable
Are you ready for some football?
If so, here’s a public service announcement — major changes are coming to how you watch NFL games this year. Primarily, the NFL’s signature television package, Sunday Ticket, is no longer available on DirectTV, which had owned the broadcast rights since 1995.
YouTube will now broadcast Sunday Ticket, which allows fans to watch all out-of-market games each week, with packages starting at $299. (But there’s a catch at that price.)
But in 2023, you have plenty of other ways to watch games as well. And if you’re like a lot of sports fans, you might have cut the cord a while back. With new streaming services popping up all the time and television contracts changing, it can be hard to keep up with how to watch your favorite NFL team.
So, without cable — which you ditched to save money — you need to decide how you are going to stream NFL games. First, figure out what’s more important to you, seeing all the live NFL games, making sure you can see every game of your favorite NFL team or just watching the highlights.
Let’s look at the options to watch live NFL games this season without paying for cable TV, which likely set you back at least $100 a month. Keep in mind that these packages take you all the way from August preseason games through the playoffs.
Your options to watch NFL games live include:
- NFL Network
- NFL Game Pass
- NFL Sunday Ticket (through YouTube)
- Amazon Prime Video
- Hulu + Live TV
- Digital media players
How to Watch NFL Games Brought to You by the NFL
There are three viewing packages offered by the NFL, beyond watching individual games on broadcast TV.
1. NFL Network
The NFL’s streaming service — NFL Network — which is available at no cost via Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, the NFL App via iOS and Android devices and through an XBox One or PlayStation game console. The NFL Network shows one live game per week, then offers repeats of games from the previous week.
2. NFL Game Pass
NFL Game Pass offers live in-market games and replays of all the NFL games. The games can be watched in full or in specially crafted 40- to 45-minute versions edited to include only the snaps from scrimmage, removing all the other action in between plays.
Game Pass also includes live audio versions of every game and allows you to pick which radio broadcast you listen to — the national, home or road broadcast teams. This means that a San Francisco 49er fan living in Florida can hear the game called by a local commentator rather than a national announcer..
The basic full season subscription to NFL Game Pass is currently $39.99. If you would like access to game replays and other perks, you’ll need to pay $79.99. You can also choose a monthly subscription. NFL Game Pass is available through PCs, Macs, XBox, PS4 and PS5, Apple TV, Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV.
3. NFL Sunday Ticket
As mentioned, the NFL Sunday ticket package offers out-of market broadcasts — games involving teams other than those from your area — of NFL regular season games.
It carries all regional Sunday afternoon games broadcasted by CBS and Fox. The NFL Sunday Ticket package starts at $299 but you’re required to have a YouTube TV subscription, which is an extra $72.99 a month.
For $339, you can get access to the NFL RedZone channel, an all-in-one channel where fans can watch seven hours of live football, and see every touchdown from every game, every Sunday afternoon during the NFL regular season. That package requires a YouTube TV subscription too.
If you just want to watch the NFL, going for the standalone Sunday Ticket package could save you some money. You’ll pay $399 or $439 with RedZone access but you’ll skip the YouTube TV charges.
Other packages offered include the through YouTube (but without a YouTube TV subscription) for $399, and the standalone Sunday Ticket plus access to the NFL RedZone channel for $439.
Other Ways to Watch Live NFL Games
The broadcast networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, ESPN) are limited in the games they present. You may want to watch more than one or two games a day. You may also be among the millions of former cable customers who have cut the cord and depend entirely on streaming services for your telecast viewing.
Streaming services make the most sense if you have cut the cable cord. Thousands of Americans have ditched cable but those who stay steadfast point to their desire to watch live sports. But streaming services allow them to watch all sorts of live sports and also other live programming.
Here are the most popular streaming services for football:
4. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is the exclusive rights holder to the NFL’s Thursday football night games. And beginning in 2023, the streaming company will broadcast the first ever Black Friday game on Nov. 24. . There’s no extra subscription fee to access those games beyond what you pay for Amazon Prime ($14.99 a month, $139 a year).
Amazon also offers a monthly subscription for students at $7.49 and to those on qualified government assistance for $6.99 per month.
FuboTV ($74.99 and up a month) offers all regionally broadcasted games plus access to NFL RedZone. The big plus here is that the streaming service also provides access to the NFL Network. FuboTV boasts 100-plus channels of live sports including MLB, NHL, NBA and domestic and international professional soccer.
6. Hulu + Live TV
The monthly subscription fee of $69.99 (with ads) for Hulu + Live TV gets you all of the broadcast games your cable service previously provided and offers you access to ESPN+ and NFL Network. With the sports add on package ($9.99), you can access the NFL RedZone. For $82.99 per month, you can purchase the same service without advertisements.
7. Paramount Plus
A product of CBS, Paramount + Essential offers only those games that are broadcast on CBS, which are games when the home team is an AFC team. The cost is relatively minimal, $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. Note that, with this package, you won’t have access to the local CBS station but can watch the NFL on CBS through a separate feed.
The company also offers Paramount + With Showtime for $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year. This package comes with no ads, plus access to the local CBS station and everything Showtime has to offer.
You can download Paramount+ via the Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon or Roku.
8. Digital Media Players
For those who still have cable TV accounts with broadcast (over the air) TV channels, you can watch NFL games on CBS (Sundays with an AFC home team), Fox (Sundays with an NFC home team), NBC (Sunday night) and ESPN (Monday night football games).
In those cases, you are dependent upon the network to choose the teams and games you watch, and you may not have a rooting interest in those games.
Those broadcast games are also available via the network streaming services.
When deciding which service to subscribe to for NFL games, consider:
- Which games the service offers
- Which extra NFL features (audio, replays, live programming options, etc.) the service provides
- The rest of your family
Most of the streaming services offer more than just sports coverage, and you may have family members who would like to watch true-crime dramas, romantic comedies or documentaries.
That’s good news to the family members who don’t want to watch guys throwing a ball around on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
Robert Bruce is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering earning, saving and managing money. He has written about personal finance for more than a decade. Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013.