The word is out. You can watch TV without cable and still enjoy your favorite shows without paying thousands to cable and satellite TV companies. Watching NFL football without cable is no exception. While the “Watch NFL without Cable” section gives you the best overview, I put links to jump to specific sections of the article below.
- Watch Monday Night Football Online
- Watch Thursday Night Football Online
- Watch NFL Local Games with a TV Antenna
- Watch Out Of Market NFL Games Online
- Other Ways to Watch NFL without Cable
Watch NFL Without Cable
Basically, Sunday day games will air on FOX and CBS. Sunday Night Football will air on NBC. While Monday Night Football will require ESPN. Meanwhile, Thursday Night games will air games on a mix of NBC and CBS. However, all those games will be simulcast on NFL Network. In the summary below I’ll cover the cheapest way to line up all these networks.
Update: You can get the first 2 months of FuboTV for only $19.99 per month. They stream the local CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliate for most NFL markets. This is an easy way to watch your local NFL teams game. They give you the first week free, so you can try with no risk.
You can get full access to ESPN and NFL Network online and tons more sports content through Sling TV. ESPN is available through Sling TV’s Orange Package, while NFL Network is available on their Blue Package. Both packages cost $40 per month and will give you Monday and Thursday Night football via ESPN and NFL Network without requiring a cable TV or satellite subscription. You can sign up here and get a free Roku, or you can simply try their 7-day free Trial.
The Blue Package also offers live FOX and NBC in select markets. Be sure to check out my review of Sling TV for more information.
Sling TV offers the following for football fans :
- Monday Night Football through ESPN on their Orange Package
- NFL Network on the Blue Package to catch the Thursday Night Games
- Sunday Night Football on NBC through the Blue Package in Chicago (WMAQ), New York (WNBC), San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (KNTV), Los Angeles (KNBC), Philadelphia (WCAU), Dallas/Fort Worth (KXAS), Washington DC (WRC), Miami/Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ), San Diego (KNSD), Boston (WBTS) and Hartford/New Haven (WVIT)
- Sunday Day Games on FOX through the Blue Package in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Gainesville, Fla., Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pa., Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, Fla. and Washington D.C.
NFL Over the Air
Your local NFL team’s games will be available for free, over the air. That means you simply need a TV antenna. Furthermore, Sunday Night Football is carried by NBC. NBC also airs five Thursday Night Football games. Five other Thursday Night games air on CBS. You will need NFL Network for all other Thursday Night Games.
The Thursday Night games on each of those networks are as follows:
Thursday Night Football On CBS: Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, and Week 8
Thursday Night Football On NBC: Week 10, Week 11, Week 13, Week 14, and Week 15
You can read the first part of the article below for TV antenna suggestions or check out my HD antenna guide for more information. If you are unable to use a TV antenna, check out the section below on PlayStation Vue in the “Other Ways to Watch NFL without Cable” section. They do offer some local FOX, NBC, CBS markets.
If you are having trouble getting CBS, CBS All Access will be streaming NFL games airing on CBS in over 150 local markets.
NFL Game Pass
For everything else, there is NFL Game Pass. NFL Game Pass costs $99 dollars for the season for U.S. customers. This provides all games, all season, but there is a catch. You can’t watch live on devices in the United States. However, you can watch every NFL Game live on Game Pass if you are using a device outside of the U.S.
You can simulate your computer being outside the U.S. very easily using a Smart DNS service. I use a service called Overplay to watch baseball online since MLB has similar black-out rules. I also go into a bit of detail on this later in the article.
Here are the delay rules for NFL Game Pass for those living in the United States:
Sunday morning and afternoon games (9:30am ET, 1pm ET & 4pm ET) are available at the conclusion of all Sunday 4pm ET games, and Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday and Saturday NFL games are available following the conclusion of the applicable game telecast. However, if you are accessing NFL Game Pass through a free trial, Thursday night games will not be available until 3 days after the telecast.
Those are the major details, but there are some other possible options for Verizon Wireless customers and some select online streaming of NFL games. There is also an online option for NFL Sunday Ticket for folks in certain living situations. I cover all of this in the rest of the article.
Watch Monday Night Football Online
Monday Night Football airs on ESPN. If you are solely interested in watching Monday Night Football, the services below offer ESPN.
- Sling TV Orange
- DirecTV Now
- Hulu with Live TV
- PlayStation Vue
- YouTube TV (Only in select areas)
- Verizon Wireless NFL Mobile phone app
Watch Thursday Night Football Online
If you are interested is just catching Thursday Night Football, then NFL Network is what you need. While other networks air certain Thursday games, NFL Network will air all of them. Below are the services where you can find NFL Network.
Thursday Night Football on Amazon
Amazon Prime will be showing eleven Thursday Night Football games this season on their Prime Video App. Amazon Prime members will stream be able to watch Thursday night games in weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16.
NFL Without Cable for Free
Living just outside Baltimore, I can watch all 16 regular season Ravens games, and their postseason games as well with my Mohu Sky 60 antenna. Whether your local NFL team is playing home or away, on Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, or Sunday Night Football, your local affiliate should be broadcasting the game over the air (OTA). I’ve written a guide so you can choose the best TV antenna for your needs.
Additionally, since broadcast TV is less compressed, the picture will be of much higher quality than what you are used to with cable and satellite TV. I’d much rather watch football OTA. Watching on cable or satellite just feels grainy by comparison.
Watch Out of Market NFL Games
The NFL announced that is will stream all 256 NFL regular season games, all preseason games, playoffs and Super Bowl for the 2017-2018 season with NFL Game Pass.
Currently, NFL Game Pass will be available on iPad, iPhone, Android Tablets and Phones, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Roku, and Apple TV. More devices are to follow.
In the past NFL Game Pass was only open to people living outside the US. Now it appears people living within the U.S. will be able to enjoy NFL streaming as well. Unfortunately, there is a slight blackout delay. If you read the fine print on the NFL Game Pass Website . . .
*NFL Game Pass includes live access to most preseason games. Such live preseason games do not include all nationally-broadcast preseason games and any preseason games televised in a user’s local market. Preseason games that are not available live in NFL Game Pass will be made available on-demand in the NFL Game Pass archives shortly after the conclusion of the original telecast. NFL Game Pass does not include live regular season, playoff, and Super Bowl game broadcasts. Access to these games is available within NFL Game Pass on an on-demand basis in the NFL Game Pass archives after such games have aired on broadcast television. Sunday morning and afternoon games (9:30am ET, 1pm ET & 4pm ET) are available at the conclusion of all Sunday 4pm ET games, and Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday and Saturday NFL games are available following the conclusion of the applicable game telecast. NFL Game Pass is unavailable during the telecast of the Super Bowl. Some 2009 regular season games are not available. NFL Game Pass is only available to users within the United States, Bermuda, Antigua, the Bahamas, any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths (including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), and Mexico.**Some live Preseason games may not be available live on phones, but will always be available in the archives.
Now that we’ve all gone cross-eyed, I’ll sum up what that means in English. Essentially, for the regular season, you have to wait until the 4 pm EST Sunday games are completed before you can watch the 1 pm and 4 pm Sunday games.
Any Night games (whether Sunday, Monday, Thursday or Saturday) will be available at the conclusion of the game. Preseason games will be live, except if they are televised in your local market. Then they will be available once the telecast has concluded.
NFL Game Pass will provide the following functionality and more . . .
- The ability to connect to multiple devices
- Turn scores on and off to avoid spoilers
- Condensed game versions that are about 30 minutes long
- Full replay of every game from 2009 until present day
- Coaches Film
- DVR Controls
Getting Around the Black-Out
As I mentioned earlier, if you are outside the U.S, you can watch every NFL game live through NFL Game Pass. For example, all we have to do is make our computer look like it is in France and you can stream all NFL Games live as if you are living there.
To do this you can use a SmartDNS service or VPN to simulate a French based IP address. The details of doing this are described in my article on using a SmartDNS. I personally use Overplay SmartDNS to do this. The basic steps to do this are below. Make sure you set up your DNS before purchasing Game Pass. You will need to purchase it while using the foreign DNS.
Setting up SmartDNS for NFL Game Pass
- Sign up for Overplay SmartDNS
- Follow the instructions here to setup your device
- While logged into Overplays website click ” My Account” then click “SMARTDNS”
- Here you can configure your SmartDNS settings for the services you want to use, including NFL Game Pass. Make sure NFL Game Pass is set to “France”
- Now that it looks like you are in France. Navigate to NFL Game Pass and start your free trial. Create an account (you need a new account, don’t use U.S. Game Pass Account)
- You will be asked for a payment method. Using a U.S. based credit card shouldn’t matter.
- You are billed the € 189.99 (about $210) for the entire season when the 1-week free trial ends. Therefore, if you decide to cancel, make sure you do it before the trial ends and you will not be billed. It’s easy to cancel from your account settings.
Other Ways to Watch the NFL Online
NFL On PlayStation Vue
PlayStation VUE also provides NFL Network and ESPN in their “Core Package” for $44.99 per month. The VUE also has ESPN rivaling Sling TV when it comes to watching prime-time football.
PlayStation VUE also offers the Live Local Affiliates for the following broadcast networks in the following markets:
CBS: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Hartford/New Haven, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and West Palm Beach.
FOX: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Gainesville, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington DC
NBC: Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford/New Haven, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington DC
NFL Mobile from Verizon Wireless
If you are a Verizon Wireless customer, then you have a way to watch Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football online for free. New and existing customers with Verizon’s More Everything Plan have full access to the NFL Mobile from Verizon app. This doesn’t require you to have a cable TV, satellite, or even a Verizon FiOS account.
The NFL Mobile app through Verizon Wireless not only provides a way for those without cable to watch Monday and Thursday Night Football online but Sunday Night Football as well. It even allows you to watch your local team’s regular season games online.
In addition, you have live full access to the NFL Network. That’s right, you can watch NFL Network Online Free. This includes the ability to watch NFL RedZone online, providing live NFL scoring updates for fantasy football fans.
If you are a cord-cutter and an NFL fan, Verizon’s More Everything Plan fills a huge void in your ability to watch NFL without cable. The app is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Unfortunately this app currently only works on mobile devices. The app shuts down when attempting to mirror your phone to Apple TV or Roku.
Typically, NFL Sunday Ticket is only available to Direct TV subscribers. However, there are situations where NFL Sunday Ticket is available to you online without subscribing to Direct TV.
During last years NFL Season, NFL Sunday Ticket Online was available to people living in select apartment buildings, attending one of the 10 select universities, or living in select areas within the metro areas of New York City, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.
This year they are expanding that offering to “select multi-dwelling unit buildings nationwide.” They have also expanded the offering to more Colleges and Universities. You can verify eligibility on their website.
Blackout rules still apply, so you will still need an antenna to catch games within your local market.
You Don’t Need Cable to Watch the NFL
That’s the takeaway here. There are plenty of ways to watch NFL football without paying an arm and a leg for cable or satellite TV. Your local NFL team’s games can be seen on an OTA antenna along with Sunday and Thursday Night Football.
Set yourself up with NFL Game Pass and you can watch every NFL game online. Verizon Wireless customers can watch Thursday Night Football online for free along with the Sunday and Monday Night Game as well. If you have Sling TV, you have access to Monday Night Football live on ESPN. The options are plentiful.
If this article did not answer your specific question, check out the Cord Cutting Guide. It provides links to the most important articles in our over 200 pages of content to help you ditch pay TV.
You can also get help online with any technical questions you may have. Just check out this Online Tech Support Chat Tool
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter. It goes out every Thursday and keeps you up to date on information relevant to cord cutters. Subscribing will also inform you on the latest deals out there for internet, streaming, and more.
For tips and tricks on cutting the cord and other tech topics follow Dennis on Twitter Follow @GroundedReason