How to Stream NFL Games Without Cable

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Amazon Prime members can watch 11 Thursday Night Football games this season. The games will be simulcast on Fox and the NFL Network, and you can also see them on Amazon's Twitch channel. (Starting in 2022, Amazon Prime will become the exclusive home for NFL Thursday Night Football; the games won't be available on Fox and the NFL Network.)

The agreement, which covers 15 games next year, is part of a long-term deal that runs through 2032. Each game will also be televised free in the participating teams' home markets. Amazon will also air one preseason game per year.

We expect that, like last year, Amazon will get one or two exclusive late-season games, and will show a wild-card playoff game that's also on other networks.

Sign up here: Amazon Prime Video

AT&T is spinning off the company's TV and video businesses, including DirecTV and AT&T TV, into a company called New DirecTV.

AT&T TV plans start at $70 per month for a package with about 65 channels. You can watch NFL games on all four broadcast networks-ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC-in most markets, plus ESPN. The only games you won't get are the exclusive Thursday Night Football games on NFL Network.

There's no longer an option, even with pricier plans, to get the NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, or NFL Sunday Ticket. However, 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.

Meanwhile, AT&T TV Now and AT&T TV will soon be folded into a single brand called DirecTV Stream.

NFL Sunday Ticket is 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 to the package this year, so you have to be a DirecTV subscriber.

As we noted above, parent company AT&T lets people who can't use a satellite dish for DirecTV's regular service watch the football package through a streaming service. That includes lots of people living in apartments or townhouses, college students, and people in single-family homes where an obstruction prevents satellite TV reception.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can get NFLSundayTicket.TV for $294 a season. A step-up Max plan costs $100 more, and adds NFL Red Zone and DirecTV Fantasy Zone. You can also add NFL Game Pass, which streams every regular season game after it airs, for an additional $100.

College students can get NFLSundayTicket.TV U, which includes everything in the TV Max plan, for just $100. Game Pass can be added for another $100.

You can't get any of these packages with AT&T TV, which is the new name for the DirecTV Now cable-style streaming service (described above).

A lot will change down the road, because DirecTV's deal for the NFL Sunday Ticket package is set to expire at the end of the 2022 season. There are reports that several companies, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, and YouTube, are interested in acquiring the rights.

Sign up here: NFLSundayTicket.TV

The sports-centric FuboTV, one of the few places to watch NFL games in 4K with HDR (from Fox), costs $65 a month. With it, you get games on CBS, Fox, and NBC in many markets.

Thanks to a long-awaited deal with ESPN, FuboTV also gives you access to Monday Night Football, plus the NFL Network to stream Thursday Night Football games. (Some of those are also available on Amazon and Fox.)How to Stream NFL Games Without Cable

NFL RedZone, with game highlights and replays from every Sunday game, can be added as part of FuboTV's $11-per-month Sports Plus add-on pack.

Priced at $65 per month, Hulu's live TV service, called Hulu + Live TV, provides access to ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC local broadcasts in many markets.

You can also get CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports. But the big news for 2021 is that Hulu reached a deal for the NFL Network to be available on Hulu + Live TV. That's important to sports fans, because the NFL Network has eight exclusive Thursday Night Football games that aren't available on Amazon or Fox.

For an additional $10 per month, you can get a sports add-on pack that includes NFL RedZone, with 7 hours of Sunday Night Football action, plus the ability to stream all RedZone programming from the 2020 NFL season before the 2021 season begins.

Sign up here: Hulu + Live TV

Locast is a streaming service that provides free over-the-air broadcast channels via the internet. It's currently available in 36 markets across the country. Locast lets you watch any games that broadcast on affiliate ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC channels.

There's a twist, though. The company is a nonprofit that doesn't directly charge consumers for content, and it's relying on a copyright exception granted to nonprofits. To make money, it asks for donations of at least $5 per month. (Locast will regularly interrupt programming to ask for that donation until you pony up.)

If this seems too good to be true, it might be. ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC Universal have sued Locast in federal court, alleging that the service violates their copyrights by sending TV content to customers without paying for it. The broadcasters want the service shut down and are asking to be paid damages.

If you subscribe to a pay-TV service, you may be able to watch football when you're on the go by using a network's mobile app. The following apps all require authentication, meaning that you need to be a cable or satellite subscriber.

* CBS Sports: In addition to those who get Paramount+, the network is letting "authenticated" CBS viewers-meaning those who get CBS through a pay-TV service-stream games via the CBS Sports app, and online at CBS.com.

* Fox Sports: The Fox TV Everywhere app offers live coverage of local-market games and regional sports networks. You can also access the games through most cable-style streaming services, such as FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV. You can watch NFL games via FoxSports.com on your laptop or tablet and some streaming devices-including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. You get access only to the channels in your TV lineup.

* NBC Sports: NBC will stream every 2021 Sunday Night Football game live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. Both require authentication that you have a cable, satellite, or live streaming TV subscription, and both will let you watch football on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, computer, Samsung smart TV, many streaming players, and Xbox game consoles. The games will also be available on NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service (see below).

* WatchESPN: ESPN's mobile app delivers Monday Night Football, along with 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. The newer $5-a-month ESPN+ streaming service doesn't have live Monday Night Football games, though they are coming in 2023. ESPN+ will have one exclusive game (a regular season international game) starting in the 2022 season.

How to Stream NFL Games Without Cable

James K. Willcox

I've been a tech journalist for more years than I'm willing to admit. My specialties at CR are TVs, streaming media, audio, and TV and broadband services. In my spare time I build and play guitars and bass, ride motorcycles, and like to sail-hobbies I've not yet figured out how to safely combine.