The NFL season is underway, and for many cord cutters, that means a frantic scramble to access the games. But don’t resort to legally questionable sites just yet — there are a number of free and legitimate ways you can watch all the games. From opening day to Super Bowl LV, here are our favorite ways to stream NFL games for free during the 2020 season.
One of the simplest ways to stream NFL games for free is to sign up for a free trial of a live TV streaming service. All of them offer a free trial, but none last more than a week. If you want to watch the entire NFL season this way, you’ll have to shuffle through several services and email addresses to avoid paying anything.
The vast majority of NFL games are played on local channels. On Sundays, the local NFC games are broadcast on FOX while CBS hosts the AFC games. The Sunday primetime game (SNF) is shown on NBC. If you’re just trying to see your local team, these are probably all you’ll need. But if you want to catch the national games, too, you’ll need a few more channels. Here’s how it breaks down:
Thursday Night Football: Weeks 2-4 of the 2020 season are shown exclusively on NFL Network. After that, the rest of the season is aired simultaneously on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video.Sunday day games: All of the games played at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. EST are broadcast on CBS and FOX. Sunday Night Football: NBCMonday Night Football: ESPN
One of the most hassle-free ways to watch NFL games for free is the Locast app. Think of it like a TV antenna for streaming: Locast is a nonprofit that streams local channels through your internet connection. Fortunately for football fans, the vast majority of NFL games are broadcast on CBS, FOX and NBC — all of which Locast provides. The only catch is that it’s not available everywhere. Right now, you can stream Locast in 23 U.S. markets:
If you live in one of these markets, all you’ll need is a home internet connection with at least 3 Mbps download speeds and a streaming device or smart TV that supports Locast. Right now, you can use it on an Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, TiVo, DISH Hopper, DIRECTV or AT&T U-Verse device.
OK, so it’s not technically streaming, but a TV antenna is still one of the cheapest and most reliable ways to watch NFL games for free. Antennas pick up all the free-to-air TV channels in your area, which include CBS, FOX and NBC. In other words, you’ll be able to catch all the action on Sundays and most Thursday nights in high-definition.
Most people will be able to get by with an indoor TV antenna, which usually run around $20. After that initial expense, you won’t pay anything to access its channels. That said, finding the right TV antenna can be tricky. For step-by-step instructions, check out our guide on choosing the best digital TV antenna.
This is a remarkably generous promotion, but only if you’re comfortable watching games on your phone or tablet. Both the Yahoo Sports and NFL mobile apps give you access to every NFL game in your area at no cost to you. Just download the apps on your iOS or Android phone or tablet and enable location services to enjoy the action.
Unfortunately, they both block screencasting features from streaming devices like Chromecast and Apple TV, so you’ll be stuck watching on a smaller screen. You might be able to use an HDMI cable to connect your phone to your TV, but you’ll need an adapter, and we can’t verify that it works.
If you have a generous friend or relative who subscribes to cable or a live TV streaming service, you can use their login credentials to watch the NFL games. You’ll need to download each channel’s app individually — CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN and NFL — but they all show live TV once you’re signed in with a participating provider. In some areas, CBS is an exception; you may need CBS All Access ($6/mo.) to watch live TV.
There’s really only one way to watch out-of-market NFL games: Subscribe to NFL SUNDAY TICKET. The service gives you access to every game that’s not available in your home market. You can get it in two ways. If DIRECTV is available at your address, you can only access SUNDAY TICKET through a DIRECTV subscription. If it’s not — either because your house doesn’t have a clear view signal or you live in a building where you can’t install a dish — you can get it through NFL SUNDAY TICKET TO GO.
NFL SUNDAY TICKET’s biggest selling point is every live, out-of-market game, every Sunday. The package does not include MNF, TNF or preseason and playoff games. Along with 10-12 live games on Sundays throughout the regular season, NFL SUNDAY TICKET also comes with features like multi-game viewing, real-time score and stats updates and individual player tracking.
DIRECTV also offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX which, in addition to everything you get with the standard package, also comes with live streaming options, NFL RedZone channel and DIRECTV Fantasy Zone channel.
If you add it on to your DIRECTV package, SUNDAY TICKET costs $293.94 in one payment, or $48.99/mo. over six months. For customers who can’t get DIRECTV, it’s the same exact price, but the monthly option goes for four months instead of six.
For those of you who can’t get enough football, you can also watch all the scoring highlights, plus full-game replays.
The NFL RedZone channel is available with most traditional TV and streaming services. While you won’t get any live games on this channel, you can see game recaps and highlights including all of Sunday’s touchdown-scoring plays.
NFL GAME PASS, available on multiple streaming devices and gaming consoles, is a streaming service that offers every live, out-of-market preseason game, plus condensed versions of full games. The service costs about $100 per season.
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