September 11, 2022
As week 1 kicks off in the NFL I thought it might be helpful to cover all the ways to catch the action on your smart TV. Whether you watch a game here and there, are a hard core ‘paint your face on game day’ fan or look to stay in tune with all the games as a fantasy football armchair GM, there are a variety of ways to stay on top of what you’re into.
If you’re still using cable or have cut the cord, today’s post is all about how you can watch America’s favorite sport on TV, including Monday Night Football and NFL RedZone. If you’re undecided about cutting the cord, you can catch up with one of my previous posts and see if it’s the right choice for you. Check out ‘Is it time to Cut the Cord?’
There’s been a lot of news lately about how the NFL has reasserted itself over global sports by once again dominating the ranks of the world’s most valuable sports teams. It’s not surprising that a big reason for that is their media rights deals.
Thirty of the 32 NFL teams secured a place on Forbes’ top 50 list, with six in the top 10. The Dallas Cowboys top the list with an $8 billion valuation (Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1989 for $150 million). The New England Patriots took second place at $6.4 billion and the the Los Angeles Rams third at $6.2 billion. To round out the rest of the world’s top 10 sports teams by value:
4. New York Yankees
5. New York Giants ($6 billion)
6. New York Knicks
7. Chicago Bears ($5.8 billion)
8. Golden State Warriors
9. Washington Commanders ($5.6 billion)
10. Los Angeles Lakers
I’m sure some NFL teams on this list may surprise you but the NFL hasn’t had at least 30 teams on the list since 2014. Building new multi-billion dollar stadiums has helped many on this list. Expect to see this list change over the next few years as the Bills, Titans, Bears and others are looking to build new stadiums.
The NFL has gotten very creative with new ways to present its games to fans — more than any other professional sports league. There have never been more options for getting your football on. If you’re looking for ways you can watch the action without an expensive cable or satellite TV subscription, below are some options to consider.
Unlike the NBA, NHL, or MLB, the NFL plays a fairly simple 17-game schedule, with each team playing one game a week. That lends itself to predictable TV programming. The league splits the Sunday afternoon telecasts by conference — generally, AFC games air on CBS at 1:00pm and 4:05pm ET, and Fox runs the NFC games at 1:00pm and 4:25pm ET.
NBC hosts the popular Sunday Night Football broadcast, which kicks off at 8:20pm ET. All you’ll need is an over-the-air TV antenna and reasonable proximity to a broadcast tower. You can get more insight on the best choices for over-the-air TV antennas at ‘Cutting the Cord Part 2 — TV Antennas.’
This year, however, Thursday Night Football will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. That means that along with Monday Night Football on ESPN, two of the NFL’s most iconic shows are cable TV shows that cord-cutters will only be able to access via one of the streaming options below. You’ll also need a streaming package to catch the three international games to be played in London and Munich and the Christmas Eve matchup between the Raiders and Steelers, which will air on the NFL Network.
If all this broadcast football has you confused, don’t worry. You can check out 506Sports.com or Sports Media Watch. Each site lists which game is on which channel for each week of the season. You might want to bookmark them for easier reference later.
Even if you don’t have a cable subscription or a TV antenna, you still have plenty of options for catching all the NFL action. Streaming options have continued to expand each season, offering plenty of ways to tailor your viewing. I’ll highlight what each service offers as the availability of individual channels’ live content can vary by market. It pays to check each service’s website to see what it offers in your area before subscribing.
- DirectTV Stream offers CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN in its $70/mo entertainment package. It’s currently being offered for $50/mo for the first two months before reverting to full price.
- Paramount+ will stream CBS’s NFL telecasts to subscribers of its $5-per-month Essential plan. We have another story that provides even more details about watching NFL games on Paramount+. Capital One customers can get $7.50 back right now through Capital One Shopping.
- Sling TV splits ESPN and Fox into separate channel bundles. You’ll need the Sling Orange and Blue package to get them both. The Orange and Blue packages get you NBC, Fox, ESPN, and the NFL Network for $50/mo. Currently, Sling is offering the first month for half off.
- FuboTV will give you CBS, FOX, and NBC for all Sunday games, as well as ESPN for Monday Night Football as part of its PRO package, which costs $70/mo. For an additional $11/mo, you can also get NFL RedZone via the service’s Sports Plus add-on. NFL RedZone exists for only about a seven-hour window each Sunday and airs nothing but the day’s highlights (mostly touchdowns, as the name suggests).
The NFL will once again sell standalone streaming access to its NFL RedZone channel this season, so you can watch commercial-free football across all early and late Sunday day games without a big pay TV bundle. However, there’s a catch: This standalone NFL RedZone subscription only lets you watch on your phone. The mobile-only version of RedZone costs $35 for the full season. Capital One customers can get $15.00 back right now through Capital One Shopping.
If you want to sign up for NFL RedZone streaming, start by downloading the free NFL app for iPhone or Android. If the NFL RedZone telecast is already in progress, you may see a ‘RedZone’ option on the main screen.
Outside of gameday, the NFL RedZone sign-up page is buried a little deeper:
- On the top-right corner of the next screen, press the profile icon. (Do not select NFL+, it’s a separate subscription.)
- On the next page, scroll down to the RedZone banner and select ‘Subscribe to RedZone Mobile.’
- Hit the ‘Select’ on the next page, which lists the $34.99 full season price.
- Use the in-app purchase systems for the iOS App Store or Google Play to complete the subscription.
If you’re already paying for RedZone as part of a pay TV package, you won’t need to pay to watch on your phone. Just tap on your profile icon, scroll down to ‘Connected Accounts,’ and hit ‘Connect,’ next to ‘TV Provider.’ You’ll be able to sign in with your pay TV credentials and stream RedZone at no extra charge.
Both Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV include CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, and NFL Network in their subscriptions, for $70/mo and $65/mo respectively. YouTube TV is offering the first three months for $55 right now.
As mentioned, Amazon’s Prime Video has exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football beginning this season. To watch, you’ll need to sign up for a Prime subscription, which costs $14.99/mo or $139 per year. That also gets you unlimited streaming access to thousands of movies and TV shows plus free two-day delivery on many Amazon items.
For this season, the NFL has launched its own streaming service, NFL+, which replaces its popular subscription package, NFL Game Pass. To get everything Game Pass offered, however, you’ll need an NFL+ Premium plan. That includes access to all out-of-market preseason games live, and the ability to replay every regular-season game after its conclusion in either full or condensed versions. If you can live without seeing the action, you can opt for live localized radio broadcasts from wherever you have broadband access. The NFL+ Premium plan also gives you access to NFL Films Library (America’s Game, Mic’d Up, Super Bowl Classics, and more) and NFL Network Shows (Good Morning Football, Total Access, and Fantasy Live) on demand. Even better, you get all these benefits at a lower price. Game Pass went for $100 per year, but the premium tier of NFL+ costs just $79.99 per year, or $9.99/mo.
NFL+ is also offered in a non-premium level for $39.99 per year, or $4.99/mo. It offers access to much of the same content but with the significant difference that you can only watch regular season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, a service the NFL used to offer for free. However, you don’t need to purchase a separate subscription to get on-the-go access to live games, as that’s offered with many of the services we listed above.
The NFL’s new streaming service isn’t the only way to watch live games on your phone. Maybe another reason for NFL franchise values on the rise, the league is now charging for football coverage that used to be free. With its new NFL+ streaming service, you can watch all in-market and nationally televised football games for $5/mo, but only with a phone or tablet. You can’t access live NFL games on your TV, not even with workarounds such as Chromecast, AirPlay mirroring, or an HDMI adapter.
From the 2018 season through last year, the NFL partnered with Verizon to offer this exact same service at no charge. Now that their partnership is over, the league is hoping you’ll pay up, even if you can’t watch on your TV.
There are options to consider, however, that can get you nearly all the same on-the-go NFL coverage at no extra cost. Apps like Fox Sports allow pay TV subscribers to watch live games from anywhere, making NFL+ unnecessary. And if you’re paying for local channels and ESPN as part of a cable, satellite, or streaming TV package, you won’t need NFL+ to watch live games on your phone.
Cable and satellite TV customers, meanwhile, should be able to sign into individual network TV apps to watch the games. If you get CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and ABC as part of your pay TV package, you can sign into those respective apps for live access to the games on any device, including your phone. Keep this in mind when you open the NFL app during the season. You already have that access as part of your pay TV subscription.
As in previous seasons, local NFL games air on either Fox or CBS, followed by Sunday Night Football on NBC. This year, seven Monday Night Football games will air on ABC as well, so if your antenna reception is good enough, you can watch those games on your TV at no charge. What if you want to watch on your phone or tablet instead? That’s where an over-the-air DVR comes in.
With Nuvyyo’s Tablo DVR, Dish’s AirTV tuner, or a DVR setup with Plex or Channels, you can stream local broadcasts to a wide range of devices, including phones, tablets, and streaming players. This will allow you to watch live NFL games from anywhere, both inside and outside your home.
While an over-the-air DVR setup will cost more up-front than an NFL+ subscription, it can pay off in the long run by letting you watch and record all kinds of broadcast content. I’ve covered this in a previous post — ‘DVR Options for Cord Cutters.’
Even in lieu of an antenna or pay TV package, you’ll still be able to stream plenty of games without an NFL+ subscription:
- Paramount+ provides live access to NFL games on CBS.
- NBC’s Peacock will also stream every Sunday Night Football game on its $5/mo Premium tier.
- Amazon Prime will carry all Thursday Night Football games this season at no extra cost for subscribers.
Between those three sources, you’ll have streaming access to a majority of live NFL games, you won’t be limited to watching on a phone or tablet like with NFL+.
With Super Bowl LVI breaking previous streaming records for the NFL, becoming the most-streamed NFL game ever, it shows that there is an audience willing to embrace alternatives to cable sports broadcasts. And if the NFL continues growing its commitment to live streaming, it’s on track to set a new bar for broadcasting sports in the coming years.
Hopefully this has given all you football fans out there some (new) options to catch all the games you’re interested in. I’m curious if you’re already taking advantage of some of these ways to access NFL games. Have you found new ones after reading this? Are you using other ways to access NFL games I didn’t mention?
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’ Until next week …
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