10 Ways to Watch Live NFL Games After You’ve Ditched Cable
Are you ready for some football?
The NFL season is right around the corner, with the first game kicking off in primetime on Sept. 8 between the Buffalo Bills and the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
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 is likely setting 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.
Fox has broadcasting rights to the championship game in February 2023. You may be able to watch it through your streaming service for an extra fee or by downloading the Fox Sports app, which limits you to watching on a mobile device. Check details of specific services.
Your options to watch NFL games live include:
- NFL Network
- NFL Game Pass
- NFL Sunday Ticket
- Amazon Prime Video
- Hulu + Live TV
- Paramount Plus
- Sling TV
- YouTube 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 game at a time, 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 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 local commentator Greg Papa rather than national announcer Chris Collingsworth.
The full season subscription to NFL Game Pass is currently $79.99, but there are also quarterly season subscriptions. 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
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. NFL Sunday Ticket is carried by DirecTV, but it can be accessed without signing up for DirecTV satellite service in areas where DirecTV isn’t available. The package costs $293 a season.
You can watch four games at a time on Channel 701 with 4-Game Mix or eight games at a time on Channel 702 with 8-Game Mix at no extra cost. If you’re not a DirecTV customer, stay tuned — as the NFL will announce a new partner this fall to stream all of its 2023 games.
The NFL Sunday Ticket includes the NFL Red Zone, which shows only scoring plays (or situations in which a team is within the 20-yard line, the “Red Zone”) as they happen. It also just announced the NFL Fantasy Zone, which focuses on fantasy football performance statistics.
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.
Streaming Monday Night Football and So Much More
Here are the most popular streaming services for football:
4. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers only those Thursday night games which are not solely shown by NFL Network. Therefore, there is no extra subscription fee to access those games beyond what you pay for Amazon Prime ($14.99 a month, $139 a year).
If you have Amazon Prime, you already have access to those games. If you don’t, you can subscribe to just Amazon Prime Video for $8.99 a month.
FuboTV ($69.99 and up a month) offers all regionally broadcasted games plus access to NFL Red Zone. 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 subscription fee of $69.99 for Hulu + Live TV gets you all of the broadcast games your cable service previously provided, and offers you access to the NFL Network and NFL Red Zone.
7. Paramount Plus
A product of CBS, Paramount Plus offers only those games that are broadcast on CBS, which are games when the home team is an AFC team. It’s cost is relatively minimal, $5 per month with commercials and $10 per month without.
8. Sling TV
There are three levels of Sling TV, and each provides a different level of NFL coverage. Sling Orange offers ESPN. Sling Blue has the NFL Network, plus Fox and NBC broadcasts. Each of those services cost $35 per month.
You can get Sling Orange and Blue combined for $50 per month. Sling also offers the NFL Red Zone for an additional fee and an antenna for adding local broadcast games you cannot otherwise receive without cable service.
9. YouTube TV
For $65 a month on YouTube TV, you get all the broadcast TV games, plus access to the NFL Network. For an additional $11 you get NFL Red Zone. You’re inching up to monthly cable rates but this is a good option if you want the service’s 85 stations including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS without having to deal with a cable company.
10. 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 nights).
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.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. Senior writer Robert Bruce also contributed.