How To Watch NFL Online Without Cable in 2018

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Watch NFL Online and Live Stream

The NFL has front-loaded the 2017 schedule with marquee matchups to build some momentum with their ratings this season.

Look no further than the first game as an example: the Kansas City Chiefs going head to head with the New England Patriots. The upshot is that you can watch the entire 2017-18 NFL season without cable or a satellite subscription.

And you can watch the majority of this season’s football games for free. This brief guide will break down your options so you can quickly decide how to watch.

The New England Patriots have won the AFC East for eight straight seasons, and by many accounts, remain the team most likely headed for another run at the Super Bowl.

But you may have noticed some last minute shuffling among the contenders, looking for an edge.

The Seattle Seahawks got defensive lineman Sheldon with a trade that happened just before Week 1 matchups. Seattle had the top defense in yards and points allowed during the 2013-14 run to a Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos.

The Bleacher Report notes that head coach Pete Carroll led the Seahawks to the postseason in six of his seven years with the organization. But even they put New England on top of their 2017 Power Rankings, and so did The Washington Post.  

This guide won’t list every option out there, but hopefully some the best bargains. So let’s see if I can give you some of the better, less expensive routes to watching as much football as you want this season.

What channels have Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football?

There are two roads you can take to watch the 2017 NFL Season. You can either go completely free using a TV antenna, or you can live stream games. Here’s how an average week looks for broadcasting NFL games.

Sunday Day Games: FOX and CBS
Sunday Night Games: NBC
Monday Night Games: ESPN
Thursday Night Games: NBC and CBS

All of the above games are simulcast on NFL Network.

As you can see, if you go the antenna route, the only games you will miss are Monday night games on ESPN. That’s not a terrible sacrifice if you’re looking to cut cable from your life and shed a $100 to $200 per month cable bill.

A combination of TV antenna and low-cost live streaming service can be an option, too. The beauty of being a pro football fan compared to other professional sports is that there’s a lot more flexibility in how you can watch. And much of it is free.

Watch Football Games with an antenna

A TV antenna is the least expensive way for you to watch the 2017 NFL season. Getting a decent antenna gives you uncompressed high definition local channels like NBC, CBS and FOX free for life.

These channels will show your local NFL team games. So if you’re a Raiders fan living in Detroit, a TV antenna might not be so satisfying.

To get these local affiliate channels, you just need to live reasonably close to the broadcast towers for those stations.

Head over to AntennaWeb.org and punch in your address to get an idea of where and what direction your towers are in. If you think you can pick up channels using an indoor antenna, I recommend getting an amplified ClearStream Eclipse. It’s easily the most powerful indoor antenna that I have tested. I get about 48 channels with it in a metropolitan area.

If you can put up an outdoor antenna on your roof, my new favorite is the ANTOP AT-400BV. Its high gain and built-in 4G LTE filter really impressed me, and it lives up to the hype of having a 60 or 70 mile range. I just finished testing the ANTOP over Labor Day weekend, so you won’t even find a full review on this model yet. You can check out my guide to the best antennas for more tips on choosing the best model for watching some football.

DirecTV Now: Watch NFL online

Yes. DirecTV Now has local affiliates for CBS, NBC and FOX throughout much of the country.

The live streaming service works on streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick.

Before you sign up, it’s best to do a quick check on their local channel search engine just to make sure there’s coverage in your area. While you’re checking that out, you can also see what Regional Sports Networks are available in your area as well.

DirecTV Now also carries ESPN across all four of its channel bundles. So you could get the entry-level channel bundle called “Live a Little”, which gives you 60+ channels for $35 per month.

You will also get some general entertainment channels like AMC, A&E and HGTV, and a vast on-demand movie selection.

Having a DirecTV Now subscription also lets you log into about 54 apps like FOX Sports Go, FX Now and Big Ten Network’s app BTN2GO. The live channel will need to be part of your subscription in order for you to use the corresponding app.

If you want to watch some football on the go, DirecTV Now can be streamed to your smartphone, tablets and PCs. The only thing missing from DirecTV Now is a Cloud DVR, which is set to roll out later this year.

You don’t need to drop any coin to try out DirecTV Now. You can take advantage of a free 7-day trial and just go online to cancel before the trial date is up if you are unsatisfied with the service. 

fuboTV: Watch NFL online without cable

fuboTV, the sports-first platform, really upped their game this year when it comes to NFL coverage. You can now get CBS, CBS Sports Network, FOX and NBC in their channel lineup. They also just quietly added NFL Network and RedZone just before the start of the 2017 NFL season.

You can check out what local CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates are in your area. fuboTV has roughly 70+ channels in its Premier channel bundle, 34 of which are dedicated to sports. The Premier bundle is $34.99 per month. 

Here’s a chart to give you an idea of what’s available for local affiliates carrying NFL football.

DMA NETWORKS TEAMS % on fuboTV
New York, NY CBS, FOX, NBC New York Jets (AFC) 100%
New York Giants (NFC) 94%
Los Angeles, CA CBS, FOX, NBC Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 100%
Los Angeles Chargers (AFC) 94%
San Francisco, CA CBS, FOX, NBC San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 100%
Oakland Raiders (AFC) 94%
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX CBS, FOX, NBC Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 94%
Chicago, IL CBS, FOX, NBC Chicago Bears (NFC) 94%
Philadelphia, PA CBS, FOX, NBC Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 88%
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL CBS, NBC Miami Dolphins (AFC) 69%
Boston, MA CBS, NBC New England Patriots (AFC) 88%
Washington, D.C. FOX, NBC Washington Redskins (NFC) 75%
Houston, TX FOX Houston Texans (AFC) 19%
Phoenix, AZ FOX Arizona Cardinals (NFC) 75%
Minneapolis, MN CBS, FOX Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 81%
Detroit, MI CBS, FOX Detroit Lions (NFC) 81%
Atlanta, GA FOX Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 56%
Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL FOX Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 81%
Denver, CO CBS Denver Broncos (AFC) 63%
Pittsburgh, PA CBS Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 56%
Belmont/Charlotte, NC FOX Carolina Panthers (AFC) 75%
Baltimore, MD CBS Baltimore Ravens (AFC) 69%

Watch NFL Football games using DVR or Lookback on fuboTV

You will also find entertainment channels like A&E, HGTV, FX and Viceland. fuboTV has a Cloud DVR service that gives you 10 slots to record shows or games. You can also tell fuboTV to record a game by logging into your account from a PC.

But you also have a backup. The “lookback” feature works like an on-demand of sports that aired in the last 72 hours. fuboTV doesn’t have ESPN, but has a lot to offer in terms of channels and features.

Just like with DirecTV Now, you can use your subscription to sign in to Fox Sports Go and about 30 more apps including NBCSN and Big Ten Network. Read my full review of fuboTV to get a broader look at the channel lineup and features.

You can check out fuboTV with a free weeklong trial.

Live Stream NFL on PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue offers local FOX, NBC and CBS in select markets. Sony has been adding FOX affiliates, but also just increased the price over the summer on all channel bundles. The entry-level channel bundle for PlayStation Vue is $40.

You’ll get roughly 48+ channels including ESPN in that package. You should also get some locals depending on where you live.

You can get NFL Network on the Core package, which costs $44.99 per month.

PlayStation Vue is a great service. It has Cloud DVR, and works on nearly every streaming device like Roku and Fire TV. But it’s also becoming more expensive. You can learn more about PlayStation Vue in my detailed review of their service. Sony offers a 5-day free trial for new PlayStation Vue customers.

Sling TV: Watch NFL Online

Sling TV is making a push to become the de-facto live streaming service for NFL games.

Weeks ago, the company announced a new section at the bottom of their site where you can enter a city, state or favorite team to see a schedule of upcoming NFL and NCAA football games.

Within the results, you can see whether the channel is within the Sling Orange channel lineup, or Sling Blue.

Let me save you some time.

If you’re looking to get both ESPN and NFL Network, you’re going to have to get the Orange and Blue plans for $40 per month. You could easily save yourself some money here if you can live without NFL Network. Let’s say you got yourself a snappy new TV antenna that got you FOX, NBC and CBS crisp and clear on your TV. You’re fine with that and just want ESPN.

Then all you need to do is subscribe to Sling Orange, which gives you 29+ channels including ESPN for $20 per month. You can also get Cloud DVR with any Sling TV subscription for an extra $5 per month.

You can check out Sling TV has to offer with a free 7-day trial. You can also get a free Roku Streaming Stick, or a discount on a Roku Premiere+ or Airplay TV and Adapter Bundle if you prepay for two to three months.

What’s the best way to watch NFL football games online without cable in 2017?

DirecTV Now is one of the best options because it carries FOX and NBC and CBS in most markets across the U.S.

You can watch football games at home on your TV or on the go with your smartphone, whether its Android or an iPhone. There’s no commitment with their free 7-day trial. I also like fuboTV a lot because of its growing channel selection with NFL Network and RedZone and Cloud DVR. You can check out fuboTV with a free 7-day trial.

Going the antenna route? Then get a amplified ClearStream Eclipse indoor antenna, or an ANTOP AT-400BV for an outdoor antenna.



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