The 2017-18 NFL season kicks off this week. The New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night with a full slate of games to follow on Sunday. Not one but two games will be played on Monday Night Football to conclude week 1.
NFL games are broadcast on CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons, NBC on Sunday nights and ESPN on Monday nights. A Thursday night game is on the NFL Network each week, but five will be simulcast on CBS, followed by another five on NBC. (And, for the record: CNET is a division of CBS.)
You don’t need a cable or satellite subscription, however, to enjoy live NFL games. Cord cutters can watch on the big five streaming services — PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, DirectTV Now, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV — but channel lineups vary by service. In a first, Amazon Prime members will be able to stream games this year, while Verizon Wireless subscribers will again be able stream games on their phones for free. And, depending on where you live, DirectTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket can be streamed without a satellite dish.
I teamed up with Mr. Cable Cutter from CutCableToday to round up all of the NFL’s live streaming options for the 2017-18 season.
Nonstreaming option: Free over-the-air TV
Let’s start with the free option. If you live in an area with good reception, you can get football games for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching anto nearly any TV. In addition to the games on CBS, Fox and NBC, if your local team is playing on ESPN or NFL Network, that game will usually be simulcast on a local station, too. In other words, you should be able to watch your local team for free every week. You’ll also get to watch the other games on Sunday broadcast on CBS and Fox as well as the 10 Thursday night games that air on CBS and NBC.
PlayStation Vue, Sony’s live TV streaming service, offers all the networks — ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and the NFL Network — that show NFL games, and you can add the NFL RedZone channel for $10 a month extra. (NFL RedZone is a channel that springs to life each fall and shows live coverage from around the league with the promise to show you every touchdown from every Sunday afternoon game. If you play fantasy football, NFL RedZone may become habit-forming.) The $45 Core plan is the cheapest option that includes the networks NFL fans need, and the $10-a-month Sports Pack will get you NFL RedZone.
, so check out which live, local networks you get on the PlayStation Vue Plans page. In many markets, you can watch on-demand but not live content from CBS, Fox and NBC.
Sling TV splits its live NFL options across its $20-a-month Blue plan and $25-a-month Orange plan, which forces NFL fans into a tricky decision or encourages them to spring for both for $40 a month (you get a $5 discount if you buy both). Here’s the deal:
Sling Blue includes Thursday and Sunday games on Fox, NBC and the NFL Network. Sling Orange includes Monday night games on ESPN. And if you want to add the NFL RedZone, you’ll need Sling Blue. Blue but not Orange subscribers can add the Sport Extra package for $10 a month, which includes NFL RedZone. Sling TV does not offer CBS, which typically carries American Football Conference (AFC) games on Sunday afternoons.
Again, channel lineups vary by region so use Sling TV’s GameFinder to check if you can watch your live, local feed of Fox and NBC in your area.
Direct TV Now includes Fox, NBC and ESPN but not CBS or the NFL Network. Its basic, $35-a-month package will let you watch NFC games on Fox on Sunday afternoon, five Thursday night games on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN.
The usual caveat applies: Check the channel lineup in your area to make sure you can watch your local TV stations live.
And please note that you cannot get NFL Sunday Ticket with DirectTV Now. NFL Sunday Ticket lets you watch every out-of-market Sunday NFL Game but requires a DirectTV satellite or meeting certain eligibility requirements (mainly, you live in an apartment that can’t get satellite service or you’re a student in a US college or university).
Hulu with Live TV
includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN, which means you’ll get games on Sunday afternoon (CBS and Fox), Sunday night (NBC) and Monday night (ESPN). Hulu with Live TV costs $40 a month, and you should check to see which live channels Hulu offers in your area.
YouTube TV is the new streaming kid on the block. It’s currently available in only, but it includes CBS, Fox and NBC so if you live in one of its 41 cities, you’ll be able to watch games on Sunday afternoon (CBS and Fox), Sunday night (NBC) and Thursday night (CBS and NBC). YouTube TV costs $35 a month.
CBS All Access
CBS’s online streaming service has added live, NFL games for this season. CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month or $60 a year. Four months of CBS All Access will take you through the NFL season, letting you watch the AFC matchups on Sunday afternoons and the five Thursday night games on CBS.
In addition to free, two-day shipping, Amazon Prime members will get 11 NFL games this season. Last year, Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to stream 10 games on Thursday nights, and this year Amazon reportedly paid $50 million to stream 10 Thursday night games plus a Christmas Day game on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon will stream the Thursday games that will be broadcast by CBS and NBC. You can see Amazon Prime Video’s NFL schedule here.
Verizon Wireless subscribers can stream the local broadcasts of Sunday afternoon games as well as national broadcasts on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights via the NFL Mobile app without any data charges. And a $1.99 in-app purchase will let you watch the NFL RedZone on the app.
Authenticate your credentials for the win
If you live in an area where you can’t get a livestream of CBS, Fox or NBC, it’s not necessarily game over for you and your NFL-viewing aspirations. You may be able use your login credentials to a streaming service to gain access to a streaming app such as Fox Sports Go or NBC Sports in order to watch live NFL games. You don’t necessarily need a cable or satellite TV subscription to prove you pay for TV in order to use a streaming app.
Update, 5.40 p.m. ET: Added that Amazon Prime Video will stream a Christmas Day game in addition to 10 Thursday night games.