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Now that the NFL season has kicked off, sports-hungry fans who’ve decided to cut the cable cord may be wondering how they can catch all the onscreen action.
Fortunately, there are more options than ever for streaming National Football League games to your TV, laptop, or phone.
With the right streaming services, you can watch Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox, Sunday Night Football on NBC, Monday Night Football on ESPN, and Thursday Night Football, which this year is spread out across Fox, Amazon Prime/Twitch, and the NFL Network.
And let’s not forget Thanksgiving Day games, Saturday games scheduled for later in the season, and the playoffs leading up to Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.
You might not have to do much to watch these games. If you’re using a cable-replacement streaming service, you may already have access to a decent number of games.
Before we profile the various options, there are a few things to note. Some live local channels aren’t available on all cable-replacement streaming services in all markets. You’ll need these channels to watch games in your area, so review the channel lineups before subscribing to a service such as AT&T TV Now or YouTube TV.
And because Verizon no longer has an exclusive deal to stream games to smartphones and tablets, you’ll be able to catch a good number of games regardless of your cellular provider. (Read about the NFL Mobile app, below.)
Last, this year some of us will be able to watch a handful of Thursday night games in 4K with HDR. That’s because Fox Sports and FuboTV will show 11 Thursday Night Football games in 4K HDR this season. The 4K broadcasts will be available via the Fox Sports and Fox Now apps on Apple TV 4K and select Roku devices, and by those who can get 4K service from pay-TV providers like Altice/Optimum, Comcast Xfinity, DirecTV, FuboTV, and Verizon FiOS.
The first game will be a matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears on Oct. 8.
Like last year, the games are being produced in 1080p, but Fox is upconverting them to 4K with HDR for viewers with 4K HDR TVs. Those with regular HD sets will see the game in 720p. Fox is using the HLG HDR format, which most 4K TVs support.
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As it has for the past two years, Amazon is rewarding its Prime members with a slate of NFL games, namely 11 Thursday Night Football games that are being broadcast by Fox. The first game shown will be the Jets vs. the Broncos on Oct. 1.
The games will also be available free on Amazon’s Twitch streaming video platform. It’s a nice option for cord-cutters who don’t have access to the NFL Network.
AT&T TV Now
AT&T TV Now’s base package starts at $55 a month, and it lets you watch NFL games on all four broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC—plus ESPN.
Unfortunately, there’s no longer an option, even with pricier plans, to get either the NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, or NFL Sunday Ticket. However, AT&T TV Now (and AT&T TV) subscribers can get NFLSundayTicket.TV if they are unable to get satellite where they live. With this service, you can stream live, out-of-market NFL regular season games every Sunday.
AT&T TV Now is available on Amazon Fire TV players and TVs, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku devices and TVs, and some smart TVs, as well as iOS and Android phones and tablets, and computers running the Chrome browser.
CBS All Access
If you like watching NFL games on CBS, the company’s $6-a-month CBS All Access streaming service is really the way to go. It offers access to the entire CBS NFL football season, including this year’s Super Bowl.
Among the scheduled games on CBS are a traditional Thanksgiving Day game, AFC Wild Card and divisional AFC Playoffs, and the AFC Championship Game. There are also a few NFC crossover games.
Thanks to a new deal that runs through 2022, you can now stream games on mobile devices, something that had previously been exclusive to Verizon cellular customers.
CBS All Access is available on streaming players, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku; smart TVs; and game consoles, such as Xbox One and PlayStation. There’s also a $10-a-month commercial-free plan, but live TV, including NFL games, still comes with advertisements.
DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket via Streaming
NFL Sunday Ticket, which costs $294, is still the most comprehensive NFL package you can get, offering every Sunday afternoon out-of-market game. (It doesn’t include games shown on your local channels.) DirecTV has the exclusive rights, so you have to be a DirecTV subscriber.
However, as it has in the past, parent company AT&T lets people who can’t get DirecTV’s regular service—because they can’t install a satellite dish—watch the football package via a streaming service. That includes anyone living in an apartment, a condominium, or a townhouse; college students; and even private homes where an obstruction prevents satellite TV reception.
There are three streaming plans for NFL Sunday Ticket. NFLSundayTicket.TV To Go lets you stream live, out-of-market NFL regular season games every Sunday, on a variety of compatible devices, for four $73.50 payments.
NFLSundayTicket.TV Max (four $99 payments) has everything in the To Go plan, plus NFL Red Zone and DirecTV Fantasy Zone. You can also add NFL Game Pass, which streams prerecorded regular season games, for an additional $50.
College students can get NFLSundayTicket.TV U, which includes everything in the TV Max plan, for four $25 payments. Game Pass can be added for $50.
Right now you can’t get NFL Sunday Ticket with AT&T TV Now, which is the rebranded DirecTV Now cable-style streaming service, or the new AT&T TV, basically a streaming version of the company’s DirecTV satellite TV service that’s currently available in only a few markets.
The sports-centric FuboTV has made a number of changes in the past year, including a price hike to $65 a month for the three-stream Family plan. With it you get games on CBS, Fox, and NBC in many markets, plus NFL Network, as part of the 100+ channel package.
The big news is that Fubo has finally secured a deal to get ESPN (and ABC), so you can get Monday Night Football. Another bonus: Fubo broadcast Fox’s Thursday night games in 4K.
NFL RedZone, with game highlights and replays from every Sunday game, can be added as part of FuboTV’s $11-a-month Sports Plus add-on pack.
Fubo is available on Amazon Fire TVs and devices, Android TVs, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku TVs and players, and Samsung smart TVs, as well as iOS and Android phones and tablets, and computers.
Hulu + Live TV
Priced at $55 a month, Hulu’s newest service, Hulu + Live TV, provides access to ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC local broadcasts in many markets, so you’ll have to check to see what’s available in your area.
You can also get CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports, but the NFL Network and NFL RedZone still aren’t available yet.
Hulu + Live TV is available on Android and iOS phones and tablets; Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming players; some smart TVs; and Xbox game systems.
Maybe you subscribe to a pay-TV service but want to watch football when you’re on the go. There are a lot of options. Here are a few network apps you should try. They all require authentication, so you need to be a cable or satellite subscriber.
• CBS: In addition to those who get CBS All Access, the network is letting “authenticated” CBS viewers—meaning those who get CBS through a pay-TV service—stream games online at CBS.com, and on a number of set-top boxes, smart TVs, and game consoles.
• Fox Sports Go: Just as with other network apps, you’ll need to prove you have a pay-TV subscription to use this Fox TV Everywhere app, which offers live coverage of local-market games and regional sports networks. It’s also available on most of the cable-style streaming services, such as FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV. You can watch NFL games on your laptop or tablet and some streaming devices—including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. And you get access only to the channels in your TV lineup.
• NBC Sports: NBC will stream every 2020 Sunday Night Football game live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. They require authentication with a cable, satellite, telco, or live streaming TV subscription, and will let you watch on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, computer, Samsung smart TV, many streaming players, and Xbox game consoles.
• WatchESPN: ESPN’s mobile app brings Monday Night Football, 10 ESPN channels, and shows such as SportsCenter, to your computer, smartphone, tablet, Xbox game console, and streaming players, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku. As with the others, you’ll need to prove you have a pay-TV subscription to use the app.
NFL Game Pass
Can’t get free over-the-air TV signals and you’ve cut the cable cord? NFL Game Pass lets you watch pretty much any game you want, but you’ll have to wait until the game’s original broadcast is over.
Priced at $100 for the season (or four $30 payments), the streaming service lets you watch replays of all the regular season games, plus games from prior seasons.
The service is supported on multiple devices, including Android and iOS smartphones and tablets; computers; Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming media players; and Xbox and PlayStation game consoles.
NFL Mobile App
Formerly a perk only for Verizon wireless customers, you can now stream NFL games on your mobile devices, regardless of carrier, by using the NFL Mobile app.
The free streaming, which is also available on Verizon’s Yahoo Sports App for mobile devices, is limited to live local-market games and primetime national games but also includes playoff games and the Super Bowl nationwide. It doesn’t include Sunday afternoon out-of-market games, which are still controlled by DirecTV.
Sports channels such as ESPN used to be one thing that kept people tied to their traditional cable TV packages—streaming options didn’t exist. Not anymore.
Sling TV’s Orange package, at $30 per month, includes ESPN (and ESPN2 and ESPN3), so you can get Monday Night Football. The $30-a-month Sling Blue package has games on Fox, and NBC in many markets.
As a result, most sports fans will need to subscribe to both plans; Sling still offers a discounted deal on a combined plan that costs $45, but it’s not that easy to find anymore. (It’s here.) Note that Sling still lacks access to the CBS network, so you won’t get AFC games on Sunday afternoons, and it lost access to NFL Network and NFL Red Zone, which it had last year.
Sling TV is available on a wide array of devices, including Mac and PC computers; Android and iOS mobile devices; Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and TiVo streaming media devices; some smart TVs; and Xbox One game systems.
After a price hike, YouTube TV now offers 70-plus channels for $65 a month. It includes all the major broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC—plus the ESPN networks and Fox Sports. One change from last year is that YouTube TV now has NFLNetwork, plus the ability to add NFL RedZone in the Sports Plus tier for an additional $11 a month.
YouTube TV is available on a number of devices, including some smart TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku streaming devices, and Android and iOS phones and tablets, but not on Amazon Fire TV players.
Whichever service you choose, you’ll enjoy the game more if you use a trusty device to stream it to your TV. Here are a few of the best-rated streaming media devices from CR’s ratings, listed in alphabetical order.
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