How to Stream NFL Games Online
The NFL season is in full swing, and the playoffs are just a few weeks away. We'll soon see which teams hold up and which teams falter.
Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty
The NFL lets you watch its games on the platform of your choice. If you'd like to watch your favorite team on a smartphone or on your television with help from a set-top box, the options are numerous.
The methods for watching NFL games change often as the league signs new contracts and streaming services change their policies. But if you want to catch your favorite team — or even watch every game the NFL has on offer — the following roundup of services will give you all the gridiron action you want.
For Cable and Satellite Subscribers
If you have a cable TV subscription, NFL RedZone lets you watch a football game's most exciting moments. The service broadcasts live coverage from every game on a given Sunday, but only when a team is in the "red zone," or about to potentially score a touchdown. Because it also gives you real-time fantasy stats and extended highlights, it's especially useful for fantasy-football fans.
NFL RedZone games air between 1 p.m. ET and the end of the late-afternoon games on Sundays during the NFL season. You can watch RedZone from your cable or satellite provider's streaming service or on a variety of apps for smartphones, tablets and connected devices like Apple TV and PlayStation 4. You can also watch games in a web browser.
NFL Sunday Ticket
DirecTV subscribers have one of the simplest paths to streaming full NFL games in NFL Sunday Ticket. This service streams live games in their entirety to televisions, computers, Android and iOS devices, and game consoles. Sunday Ticket applies only to out-of-market games.
You can also get NFL Sunday Ticket as a stand-alone service — but only if you live in an area that doesn't get DirecTV service.
If you subscribe to a cable package that includes ESPN, and most do, you can stream live ESPN programming from just about any device. Simply use your computer, smartphone, set-top box, game console or another connected device to download the ESPN app, then sign in with your cable providerꞌs information. When ESPN airs Monday Night Football, log into the app and enjoy the game.
Cable-Free Streaming Subscriptions
If you really want to watch football but donꞌt have any desire to clutter up your TV with a cable subscription, Sling TV provides a middle ground. This streaming live-TV service offers ESPN on its $25-per-month Sling Orange service, and Fox and Fox Sports on its $25-per-month Sling Blue service.
To get both ESPN and Fox costs $40 per month, which puts Sling somewhere in the neighborhood of a traditional cable package. But itꞌs much easier to watch Sling remotely, and it works with a huge variety of mobile devices, game consoles and smart TVs.
NFL Game Pass
There is one extremely easy way to watch any NFL game you want online, but it comes with a huge caveat: You have to wait until the game is over. Still, if you can keep yourself from finding out last nightꞌs score, NFL Game Pass will charge you $74.99 per year for the privilege of streaming any game to your computer, mobile device or set-top box.
Game Pass also lets you watch select preseason games, listen to local radio broadcasts of games and watch condensed versions that squeeze an entire game into 30 minutes. While watching the game in real time is arguably half the fun of live sports, thereꞌs something to be said for setting your own schedule.
CBS All Access
CBS All Access is another ideal option for watching games online. In addition to a back catalog of CBS shows, plus some streaming-only shows like Star Trek: Discovery, this service also lets you watch your local CBS station and the game in your market as it airs.
For $6 per month, you can watch the service on most set-top boxes, gaming consoles, mobile devices and computers with limited commercial interruption. If you fork over $10 a month for the service, you'll get all that commercial-free.
Amazon is now streaming live NFL games after it acquired the contract for Thursday Night Football broadcast rights. As long as you have Amazon Prime Video, you can watch Thursday Night Football on the service without ever needing to pay extra. That said, the NFL has retained the rights to five Thursday Night Football games that it airs exclusively on the NFL Network. Amazon Prime Video cannot air those games.
Bypass NFL Game Pass Blackouts with a VPN
Some internet users seem to have found a workaround with NFL Game Pass that lets them watch games live by using a VPN service.
Many online guides suggest that if you use a VPN to make it look like you're located in Europe, and use that to sign up for the European version of NFL Game Pass, you'll be able to watch any game you want live. Nearly every European country and former Soviet republic can access NFL Game Pass, but you might not want to pick the United Kingdom or Ireland as your "location," because some blackouts apply there, too.
We can't endorse doing this, as it might violate the NFL Game Pass, and your account could be canceled without warning and without a refund. It might also violate laws in some jurisdiction. You'll be doing so at your own risk.
That said, we can recommend Private Internet Access and Windscribe as our favorite VPN services. Private Internet Access costs $6.95 (£5.50) per month, or $39.95 (£31.50) per year, but its interface can be a bit daunting.
Windscribe runs to $9 (£7) per month or $49 (£38.50) per year, but has a simpler interface. Its free service gives you up to 10GB of data, enough for a couple of games, per month.
Another service, ExpressVPN, costs $12.95 (£10) per month or $99.95 (£78) per year. But it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied.
Free Streaming Options
The Yahoo Sports app for iOS and Android has replaced the old Verizon NFL Mobile app. It streams every NFL game that's broadcast in your local TV market to your smartphone or tablet for free, including Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. You can also sign into your NFL Game Pass subscription and stream it from the Yahoo app.
DIY Streaming Solutions
HD Antenna Streaming Services
This option involves a bit of DIY industriousness, but if you want to catch local games, why not just set up your own stream? Services like Channel Master and Tablo allow you to hook up an HD antenna to a DVR box, then broadcast the stream — either live or recorded — to a set-top box, mobile device or computer just about anywhere in the world.
The cost varies depending on the HD antenna you get and the service you use, but the local channels themselves are free, and you wonꞌt have to jump through any NFL-sponsored hoops.