Are you ready for some football? Because I sure am.
After more than half a year of desperate waiting, the time is finally at hand and our beloved NFL Football is poised to once again to come back into our lives. And in that intermittent period, quite a bit has changed in terms of how we watch the game; at least for those of us without cable.
So to help catch up you veteran cord cutters, and to help usher in the newbies, I’ve come up with a quick guide on how to watch the 2016 NFL season without cable. Let’s get started!
Sometimes, the oldest methods are still the best and for the 2016 NFL season, an over-the-air antenna (OTA) is still the best way to go. Just like the rabbit ears of yesteryear, the OTA antenna will deliver to you all the broadcast television you know and love. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox; with a simple OTA antenna all of these networks are at your disposal, and that’s important for our football purposes.
As you undoubtedly know, with the exception of perhaps Monday Night Football, the NFL airs almost exclusively on broadcast television, including Sunday Night Football on NBC. And while you can watch broadcast television with a cable subscription (and even on some streaming services like Sling TV), why bother when a cheaper and better picture quality option is available?
But like I said, you probably already knew this, so if you’re looking for some new ways to watch the NFL without cable, keep reading because I’ve got one or two things that might catch your eye.
As a side note, CBS is set to live-stream several games this season for free on its CBS Sports website. The specific games have not been released, with the exception of Super Bowl, but keep your eyes peeled and I’ll update you as the season continues.
Sling TV is an online streaming service that let’s you live stream dozens of television channels for as low as $20 a month. Included in the cheapest subscription package is ESPN, which as you know broadcasts Monday Night Football. On its own $20 a month for one game a week doesn’t seem like a huge draw (unless you’re also a College Football fan), but there’s something else offered by Sling TV that’s going to help sweeten the pot.
Starting this season, Sling Blue ($25/month) will start carrying both the NFL Network in its base package and NFL RedZone as part of its $5/month Sports Extra add-on. With the NFL Network you’ll not only be able to watch exclusive NFL content (like the morning NFL show Good Morning Football), you’ll also be able to watch live games that you wouldn’t normally be able to watch without a cable subscription.
And with the NFL RedZone network, you’ll be able to see every play and every touchdown that happens in that critical area between the 20-yard line and the end zone. How’s that for a great deal?
Not to be outdone by Sling, Sony’s PlayStation Vue service has also announced the availability of NFL Network and NFL RedZone. Like Sling, NFL Network will be included in the standard channel line-up of the middle-tier PlayStation Vue Core Access ($35/month) and top-tier PlayStation Vue Elite Access ($45/month) streaming packages.
Also like Sling, NFL RedZone will cost you extra. Except with Vue, you pay for RedZone in one lump sum of $40 and have access to it for the full season.
Neither Sling nor Vue are as cheap as free over-the-air broadcasts, but the good news is that you can start/stop your subscription at anytime with just the click of a button online. And between your OTA antenna for CBS and Sling or Vue for NFL Network, you’ll be able to catch every single Thursday Night Football game this season without cable or satellite.
That’s right, the home of hashtags and rants is stepping into the wide world of football. This season, you’ll be able to live stream 10 NFL games from Twitter for free. No subscriptions, no commitments, no fees. If you love all things free, this is the NFL option you’ve been waiting for.
Here are the games you’ll be able to stream via Twitter this season:
Sept. 15: New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
Sept. 22: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Oct. 6: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Oct. 13: Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers
Oct. 20: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Nov. 17: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
Dec. 1: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 8: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Dec. 15: Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 22: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
If you’re a Verizon subscriber, then you’ve already got a cable-free NFL option sitting right there in your pocket. NFL Mobile is a service offered to Verizon customers that gives you live streaming access to select NFL games as well as stats, news, scores, and more.
In the past, NFL mobile only cost $5 a month but that fee has been dropped and now you can use NFL Mobile for free. It’s not a complete option for football fans, but if you’ve got Verizon then you’ve literally got nothing to lose by using it; so give it try!
NFL Game Pass
For $100 a season, NFL Game Pass will let you stream all 256 regular season NFL games. You’ll not only get every game in the regular season, you’ll also get a bunch of extra features such as condensed games, exclusive camera angles, historic super bowl match ups, every NFL game from 2009 to present, and more.
The only catch, albeit a big one, to Game Pass is the fact that you cannot live stream games. Instead, they become available immediately after the broadcast ends. But if you have an OTA antenna, you should be able to spend your time watching one game while you’re waiting for your main event to start.
Bottom Line: If you’re a hardcore football fan, then you’re going to want to give NFL Game Pass a try.
So how do you plan on watching the 2016 NFL season? Are you going with the tried and true OTA antenna? Are you going to wait and use NFL Game Pass? Or are you reaching for an All of the Above approach? Let us know in the comments below or sound off on social media!