Is it possible to live stream NFL Games? Absolutely. Is it possible to watch every NFL game online? Yes. Can it be done without a cable subscription? Again, yes. Finally, can everyone do it? There’s the sticking point and the answer is no. The hard truth is that the “watch NFL online” architecture is set up sporadically. Worse, it can be incredibly frustrating to navigate all the various options. This article shows the different methods to watch NFL games online in brief.
How to Live Stream NFL Games with Cable
It’s confusing to figure out how to live stream NFL games because of the deals the NFL has with various partners. The biggest deals are with cable providers. Those deals let providers show all the NFL games from all markets exclusively and they’re a big part of the reason viewers subscribe to cable in the first place. The only such deal that comes bundled with an online option is DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. Therefore, the easiest way to watch NFL games online is to subscribe to DirecTV. Unfortunately for many, that means $60 a month with a two-year contract. With taxes and fees, the price can easily come to near $2,000. Worse, Sunday Ticket doesn’t include games on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Ways to Live Stream NFL Games Without Cable
There are plenty of ways to live stream NFL games without cable. The big disappointment is that there really isn’t a good way for everyone to watch NFL online games for every game out there. First, the games are largely split between the big four networks of NBC, Fox, CBS and ESPN and the networks require a cable subscription to watch NFL games online. Second, the non-network streaming options all have requirements and blackouts of their own.
The table below shows the top-line info for all live stream NFL methods.
Live Stream NFL Methods
|Method||NFL Games Available Online||Drawback||Cost|
|NFL Sunday Ticket||All Sunday NFL games||Must have DirecTV. No Thurs/Sat games.||$80+ per month (incl. tax/fees)|
|Verizon Wireless NFL Online App||All NFL games for Mon/Sat/Sun nights||Must be Verizon Wireless customer. No Sun afternoon games.||Free|
|NFL Game Pass||All||No live games. Replays only.||$74.99|
|PlayStation Vue NFL Live Stream||Depends on customer location||All games not available in all areas||$35-$45 per month|
|Sling TV NFL Live Stream||All NFL games except CBS depending on area||All games not available in all areas||$40 per month|
|NBC NFL Live Stream||Only NBC NFL games||Not available in all markets. Requires cable subscription.||Free|
|Fox NFL Live Stream||Only Fox NFL games||Not available in all markets. Requires cable subscription.||Free|
|CBS NFL Live Stream||Only CBS NFL games||Not available in all markets. Requires cable subscription.||Free|
|ESPN NFL Live Stream||Only ESPN NFL games||Not available in all markets. Requires cable subscription.||Free|
|NFL Network Live Stream||Only NFLN games||Requires cable subscription||Free|
|Twitter NFL Live Stream||Only select Thursday night games||Very few games shown||Free|
|Outside DirecTV Coverage Area||All Sunday NFL games||Can't be in DirecTV coverage area||$199|
|Outside the U.S.||All Sunday NFL games||Must be outside the U.S.||$199|
|NFL RedZone||All NFL games but only in whip-around form||No full games shown||Depends on provider.|
|Non-Streaming Digital Antenna||All locally broadcast NFL games||Only shows local games on over-the-air broadcast channels||$40|
Also see: NFL Live Stream Twitter
Non-Network Live NFL Stream Options
The best non-network NFL live stream option is the Verizon Wireless NFL Mobile App, but that requires users to be Verizon customers. Other methods like the NFL Game Pass, PlayStation Vue and Sling TV all have special drawbacks that can leave viewers frustrated.
Verizon Wireless NFL Online
This is hands down the best way to watch NFL online games out there. The big catch is that it’s only available to Verizon Wireless customers. It also only works on mobile devices. That said, it offers the best selection of NFL games going, with national games from all teams on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights plus local Sunday afternoon games. The only games Verizon users can’t watch with the free app are the out-of-market Sunday afternoon games.
NFL Game Pass
This live stream NFL games option costs $74.99 through a mid-season deal. The big catch is, only the pre-season games are live, while the regular, post-season and Super Bowl games are all available as replays only.
Also see: How Much Money Do NFL Players Make?
The PlayStation Vue NFL live stream option gives access to every game on all five NFL game networks. It costs $35 to $45 a month but the big catch is that it only works for viewers in “select markets.” Check their plans page here to see if that means you. If the page doesn’t show NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN it means you won’t get to see all the games. Also if it says “NBC On Demand” that means the NFL games are available only in replay form. This option requires a PlayStation device or an Android TV, Roku TV or Amazon Fire device.
This method to watch NFL online games costs $40 a month and covers all games from NBC, Fox, NBC and ESPN but not CBS. Worse, NBC and Fox aren’t available in all areas. The only way to find which networks Sling provides in your market is to call them.
Network Live NFL Streams
The big networks all offer live NFL streams. That includes NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN and the NFL Network. The catch here is that every one of them requires viewers to log in with their existing cable subscription.
The NBC live NFL stream isn’t available in all markets. Even where it is, viewers have to sign in with a network provider. That means this option requires a cable subscription. Even then it doesn’t offer all games nationwide.
The Fox NFL live stream gives access to a small fraction of games nationwide. It requires viewers to sign in through their cable subscription.
CBS sells an all access pass for $6 a month, but it doesn’t let users watch NFL online games. Instead, to watch the NFL games that show up on CBS, fans must have an existing cable subscription and sign in through their provider.
ESPN carries a percentage of NFL games. To live stream NFL games with this network, viewers will need an existing cable subscription.
The NFL Network mostly airs games that are already shown on other networks, with a few small exceptions like pre-season games and a couple of specials. This NFL live stream option also requires a cable subscription sign-in.
Also See: Eli Manning is Highest Paid NFL Player
Lesser NFL Live Stream Options
By now most readers will have copped to the fact that the selection of “watch NFL online” options is frustrating without cable. Below are a few additional ways to live stream NFL games that may work for some fans.
Twitter NFL Live Stream
Twitter is hosting live streams of some Thursday night NFL games this season. They’re absolutely free but there are only a handful left in the 2016-17 season:
- 11/17/16: Saints at Panthers
- 12/1/16: Cowboys at Vikings
- 12/8/16: Raiders at Chiefs
- 12/15/16: Rams at Seahawks
- 12/22/16: Giants at Eagles
To Live Stream NFL Games Outside the DirecTV Area
Anyone outside the DirecTV coverage area can live stream NFL games with an NFL Sunday ticket for just $199 for the entire season. To see if you’re one of these lucky fans, head to the NFL Sunday Ticket signup page here and enter your address.
To Live Stream NFL Games Outside the US
Fans outside the U.S. can watch NFL online games via the NFL Sunday Ticket. This option works the same as the “non-DirecTV” method above. Just sign up for the $199 NFL Sunday Ticket here.
The NFL RedZone is a semi-live NFL stream option. Viewers can’t watch all NFL games online live with this method. They can however see “every touchdown” from every game. The way NFL RedZone works is that presenters switch between various games, offering live coverage of the entire NFL at once. It’s available through various providers, including Verizon Wireless, PlayStation Vue and more.
The Non-Streaming NFL Games Viewing Option
One way for viewers to watch NFL games without the online streaming component is to get a $30 digital antenna and tune in to local channels. The problem with this method is that it requires strong reception. Even then it only offers games shown by local providers. That means a Pats fan living in Ohio won’t love this option.
Watch NFL Online: The Bottom Line
The sad truth is that the NFL live stream options are still very limited. Things are better than last year, but fans who don’t live in their team’s market will have a hard time figuring out how to watch NFL games online without a cable subscription.