The cord-cutter’s guide to legally watching the NFL

You don’t need a satellite dish or cable to get your NFL fix.

Cable is expensive, and it’s not getting any cheaper. It gets easier every year to watch television without cable or satellite packages, but finding actual live pro football on the many services available has been difficult. But that’s starting to change, too.

The league has continued to add options for cord-cutters and fans who wish to watch football away from home. Last year, the NFL collaborated with Twitter to broadcast 10 games over the social media platform. In 2017, those games will belong to Amazon.

Other prime-time games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights can also be streamed live on the internet with subscriptions to services like WatchESPN, NBC Sports Live Extra, Fox Sports Go, or CBS All-Access. Those require cable subscriptions, but a growing number of legal streaming services — from online powers like Hulu, YouTube, and even PlayStation — will provide more options for NFL fanatics then ever before.

For fans who want to watch their favorite out-of-market teams on Sundays, the options can still be thin, though. DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket has been the gateway on Sunday afternoons and that’s still mostly the case in 2017. That’s available online, but it’s got some pretty strict limitations to who can sign up for it.

Here are the many different ways NFL fans can tune into games without cable television:

Yes, NFL Sunday Ticket is available online!

The DirecTV package is the Holy Grail of NFL viewing. It’s got everything, all the games and the RedZone channel.

It’s now, sort of, available online, and can be purchased as a streaming service that runs on just about anything. That includes iOS and Android devices, Windows PCs, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and game consoles like Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.

There’s a catch. It’s not available to everybody. You have to live in a multidwelling unit (apartments, condos, etc.), select areas in select cities, a residence unable to receive the satellite service, or be a college student.

Packages depend on which screens and how many you want to watch it on. The basic package for your laptop, tablet, and phone, is $199 (or four payments of $49.99). You can spend as much as $359 to get it on every dang screen you own.

And, there is a discount pricing for students, putting the package at $99.

The next best thing: NFL Mobile for Verizon

Verizon customers can download NFL Mobile for Verizon as an app on any iOS or Android device. While it won’t allow fans to watch every NFL game, it does provide live streaming of every primetime and local game (based on the location of your device).

As a bonus, NFL Mobile for Verizon allows users 24/7 access to live NFL Network coverage, and for an extra $1.99 per month users can get NFL RedZone and see all the touchdowns on Sundays.

You can watch (some) NFL with streaming services

There’s always the ol’ antenna to get the local broadcast networks — CBS and FOX — that have the Sunday afternoon games, as well as NBC for Sunday nights. But that might not be an option for everyone.

A number of digital content providers rolled out live TV packages this year, meaning you can get your local broadcast networks via one of those services. However, there are limitations to what’s available

PlayStation Vue: Your chances at getting a network that shows NFL games depends on your location, but no matter where you are Vue users can purchase NFL RedZone with an add-on package for $10 per month. Basic packages start at $40 per month.

Sling TV: This service will allow fans access to games on FOX, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network via the Blue package ($25 per month). The downside here is that CBS is not available. Sling TV also has NFL RedZone available for purchase through it’s Sports Extra add-on for $10 per month.

DirecTV Now: There are more than 100 channels available through DirecTV’s streaming service, including a few networks that show nationally broadcasted NFL games. NFL RedZone and NFL Network are reportedly set to be added in time for the 2017 season, as well. Packages start at $35 per month.

Hulu Live Package: Hulu’s live package provides live NFL broadcasts from NBC, FOX, CBS, and ESPN for $40 per month. It is important to note that the live broadcasts from the networks are not available everywhere, so check availability before you subscribe. NFL Network is not available.

YouTube TV: YouTube TV offers 40 live channels, giving viewers the chance to cut the cord and stream all three networks that offer NFL coverage. For $35/month, subscribers get CBS, FOX, and ESPN along with other sports channels like ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports, the SEC Network, the Big Ten Network, and CBS Sports. Channel availability does depend on your location.

Fubo.tv: The streaming service will give you access to games nationally broadcast on FOX, CBS and NBC. The service costs $35 per month. It does not include ESPN (and any other Disney-owned network), but announced Thursday that it will carry NFL Network and RedZone.

CBS All Access: The Eye network is the most limited of all options from the list of live streaming services, but if you decide to go with one of those services, you have another option to get CBS via the network’s own streaming service. It starts at $5.99 per month, and there are some limits to availability.

Additionally, an over-the-air digital antenna will provide the bulk of Sunday’s games on FOX and CBS, and those typically cost less than $20 (they also provide access to channels you’ve never seen before and LOTS of Magnum P.I. reruns).

Where can you get NFL RedZone online?

This needle’s a little harder to thread, but there are some options. There’s the DirecTV online Sunday Ticket service, if you qualify. If you’re a Verizon customer, it’s available for a pretty good rate of just $1.99 per month.

Two of the streaming services listed above offer RedZone: SlingTV, Fubo.tv and PlayStation Vue. DirecTV Now is reportedly going to add it before the season starts, so keep an eye on that option.

Thursday Night Football on Amazon (and other services)

Season opener (Week 1)

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots — 8:30 p.m. ET — NBC Sports Live Extra

The rest of the season

Watch NFL Network: 13 games (NFL network is available through several of the streaming options listed above) — Weeks 2-11, 13-15

Amazon Prime: 10 games — Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 11, 13, 14, 15

CBS All Access: Five games — Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

NBC Sports Live Extra: Six games — Weeks 1, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15

Week 16 Thursday doubleheader

Dec. 25 falls on a Monday this year, which means Roger Goodell is climbing down your chimney with two games instead of just one.

Week 16: Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens — 4:30 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Live Extra: One game

Week 16: Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers — 8:30 p.m. ET

Sunday Night Football

NBC Sports Live Extra: 15 games

What about Week 17? It falls on Dec. 31 this year, so the NFL has decided that you can go out that night rather than watch a game.

Monday Night Football

WatchESPN: 15 games, Weeks 1-15

ESPN is available on most of the streaming packages listed above, so that’s another option for watching MNF.

Don’t forget about Saturday

Watch NFL Network: Three games

Week 15: Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions — 4:30 p.m. ET

Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs — 8:25 p.m. ET

There’s football on holidays, too

Thanksgiving (Week 12)

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions — 12:30 p.m. ET — Fox Sports Go

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys — 4:30 p.m. ET — CBS All Access

New York Giants vs. Washington — 8:30 p.m. ET — NBC Sports Live Extra

Christmas (Week 16)

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans — 4:30 p.m. ET — Amazon Prime/NBC Sports Live Extra/Watch NFL Network

Oakland Raiders vs. Philadelphia Eagles — 8:30 p.m. ET — WatchESPN

Watch reruns with NFL Game Pass

For $99.99, NFL Game Pass won’t give you any live coverage after preseason, but will provide full replays of every NFL game. It also includes coaches’ film angles and condensed replays of games that remove the lag between snaps and allow you to watch a game from begin to end in about 30 minutes.


The NFL is more accessible than ever, and watching games in 2017 will be easy and inexpensive. You won’t have to stay glued to your television to watch Week 17’s Packers-Lions showdown; you’ll be able to take the game with you on your phone, tablet, or laptop. With several options at hand, there’s no reason why Sunday can’t be dedicated to the gridiron.