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Here’s how to stream football games this NFL season without a cable subscription

Spoiler, you’ll probably have to spend some $$$

nfl logo with football background
Image: Unsplash

Okay, so if you’ve followed any of our prior coverage on cord-cutting and axed cable, what do you do when your favorite sports teams start playing again? No more cable means no more ESPN, right? Well, kinda, but there’s a bunch of ways that you can still get sports coverage, and with Football Season™ just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to investigate those.

The thing is, most of the options aren’t cheap. Broadcast sports might be the only thing worth hanging onto your cable package for, as it’s often bundled in with your phone, internet, and other things. That’s down to the old broadcast rules which limit where games can be shown live.

The only real cheap option is if you actually live in the broadcast market for your preferred football team. Then your NFL games will be on your local FOX, NBC, or CBS affiliate channel on Sundays, and all you need is an OTA broadcast antenna or something like the HDHomeRun Duo.

If you support a team on the other side of the country, well, get ready to break out your pocketbook. You’ve still got multiple options, but they’ll all cost.

The streaming wars are terrible for sports fans

hulu splash screen showing various shows and movies

Image: Cordcutters

Cutting the cord only really applies to cable TV, when all you really need nowadays to watch content is an internet connection. To watch your beloved NFL teams legally over the internet, you need to subscribe to a streaming service licensed to broadcast those games.

That means a service like YouTube TV, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or fuboTV. All of these services run around the $55 mark, except for Sling TV which is $25 ($15 for the Orange package and $10 for Sports Extra).

The thing is, not every service has every channel you need for all the games. You’ll need FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network. Hulu and YouTube TV don’t have NFL Network, where most of the Thursday night games will air, so those aren’t really in the running. Sling doesn’t have CBS, but it is substantially cheaper than the rest. To fix that, you can pay $6 per month for CBS All Access, which will give you all the games aired on CBS.

If you don’t care about catching every game, Thursday night games are going to be free to watch with an Amazon Prime subscription. NBC will stream Sunday night games for free as well.

Then again, if your teams aren’t on your local TV channels weekly, you’ll need to shell out for one of the packages with NFL Network. PlayStation Vue is probably your best bet here.

Get your football from the source

The NFL will sell you direct access to every game, but expect your pocketbook to be hurting afterward. Game Pass is $99, but you won’t be able to watch games live, just replayed after the final whistle. That’s okay if you can stay off of social media during that time, I guess.

NFL Sunday Ticket is what you need to watch live, as nature intended. Expect to have $300 disappear from your bank balance for the privilege. That’s offered through DirecTV, but you don’t need their subscription on top, as long as this link tells you that you’re eligible. That means apartment dwellers mostly, as it’s meant for people who can’t install a satellite dish on their home. Oh, and you won’t be able to watch in-market, local games through it so expect to pick up something like Sling TV or an HDHomeRun anyway.

Cable cutting isn’t for everyone

As I said earlier, broadcast sports are pretty much the only reason to still keep hold of your cable TV bill. It’s really the only way to ensure you’ll not miss any games, short of traveling to every one in-person.

Do you still have cable for sports? Or have you found other ways to get your fix? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r and unabashed geek. Hardware guy here at KnowTechie, if it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't) I probably have one around here somewhere. My hobbies include photography, animation and hoarding Reddit gold.

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