If you're looking for ways to stream NFL football games, you are in luck. There are a number of options available to you. You don't need to have a cable package to watch most games. However, there are some games where you'll still need to have some cable or streaming payment service (such as YouTube TV, Hulu Live, SlingTV and so on). Beyond the streaming pay services, you always have a handful of options. In fact, here are the five best places to stream NFL games throughout the year.
What Are Streaming Services?
A streaming service is an Internet based entertainment service that provides you with cable-like programming, but through an application. With the application, you are able to stream live programming and, oftentimes, you are able to watch previously broadcasted content as well. If you're looking to stream NFL games over an Internet connection, there are a few options. You can go through individual channel streaming options, or you can subscribe to a cable-like service. It all comes down to what you're interested in, how much you want to pay, and what sort of other television programming you want to have access to.
If you don't watch much in the way of live TV and don't need cable or a pay-service, you can watch most regional NFL games through free services, although there are some hiccups with certain applications (which we will cover later in this article). In general, as long as you have a strong Internet signal, your ability stream NFL games shouldn't be a problem.
Streaming Service Versus Cable Service
One type of streaming service is individual channel streaming. These are available for channels such as Fox, NBC, ABC, and so on. Some of these individual channel streaming platforms give you full access to live television, however other programs limit your ability to watch anything without a streaming subscription. We'll go over what each channel provides in terms of being able to stream NFL games, and whether it's better to have some kind of full program streaming service or cable package.
There are a number of streaming service benefits over cable. Cable has the benefit of offering high-quality imagery. In general, there may be a slight improvement in picture quality with cable over a wireless Internet signal. However, as long as you have a fast enough Internet connection, this won't be noticeable at all.
Outside of the possible picture improvement , cable doesn't have any other advantages. A streaming service does not lock you into a contract. This way, you can cancel at any time without paying any early cancellation fees. Additionally, most streaming services give you trial periods to test out services. Some of these last a few days, others last longer than a week. Realistically, you could watch an entire week of games with one trial, cancel your service, then test the next service out the following week. You could stream NFL games for half of the season without ever paying for any kind of subscription service.
With streaming services, there are more tier packages. This way, you're more likely to pay for what you want and avoid paying for what you don't want. There still isn't an option to select each channel, mostly because individual companies create an assortment of networks and these companies do not want certain channels left out. However, with a streaming service you not only can opt for just the channel package you're interested in, but you can cancel in the off-season. This way, if you don't want television programming in the summer, you can just cancel for the season and then turn it back on later, all without any extra fees.
Basically, with streaming you save money, have access to the programs you want, and can still have the ability to stream NFL games.
5 Best Places to Stream NFL Games
There are a handful of streaming options to consider. We'll go over different options and whether you need to pay for these options. This way, you know exactly what to expect when you get ready to stream NFL games this season. Should you decide to stream NFL games, you will want to pay close attention to whether your local team is NFC or AFC based, as this may impact whether you're able to stream the game or not.
The Fox Sports app is a solid app in that you don't need to pay to stream NFL games for your regional team. So, if you live in Michigan and the Detroit Lions are your regional team, you don't need any cable subscription for any of the regional FOX games. FOX also carries most of the Thursday night games, which you can watch without a subscription. In some seasons, the Thursday Night game is on the NFL Network, in which case you will not have access to it through the Fox Sports app. It is important to download the "Fox Sports" app though and not just "FOX", as the latter will not have the games.
CBS All Access
This application is a bit tricky. In fact, it's kind of bummer. AFC games are broadcasted on CBS (while NFC games are on FOX, outside of highlighted games for Sunday night and Monday night). CBS All Access is not free. You need to pay for the subscription. So even if there is a regional AFC team you want to watch, it will not stream without a subscription. If you don't have an antenna to watch CBS games, you'll be forced to either pay for CBS All Access, or use a streaming service provider that offers local channels
NBC Sports is similar to CBS All Access. You are given 30 minutes of free watch time, but you are not given full access to the game (Sunday night games are on NBC). If you don't have an antenna and have not signed up for an alternative streaming service, you will not be able to watch the full game.
If you want to check out Monday night football, you'll need ESPN. You will need to sign up for some kind of ESPN programming service as you will not be able to watch this at all (although there might be some ESPN3 camera views available, which does provide streaming content without the need of signing up for a service).
ESPN is available on just about every major streaming service, but you need to watch out for this. Some streaming services that break down into tiers (such as SlingTV) break down the programming into ABC/ESPN based and FOX based. If you have the FOX based streaming tier, you'll have the different Fox Sports channels but no ESPN. There is also an ESPN+ option that you can now pay to stream NFL games. This should not to be confused with the old regional ESPN+ service that provided broadcast rights to regional college sports teams before the expansion of league networks (such as Big Ten Network and the SEC Network).
The best way to watch nearly all the games you're interested in is through an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription. With this subscription you can stream just about any NFL game, regardless of where it is. However, there is one stipulation. You are not allowed to stream NFL games of your local, regional team. This means if you live in Cleveland you cannot stream Cleveland games. You have to watch it from the local network. That can be frustrating if you do not have access to a live stream of the local team, or if the team doesn't come in through an antenna. However, if you travel or if your favorite team is not the regional team, this is an excellent option.
There are a number of pay services out there that work like cable, but without the contract. You'll need to look for options that work best for your budget and provide you with the channels you want. Ideally, you should consider services like PlayStation Vue (don't worry, you don't need a PlayStation for this to work), YouTube TV (if it's available in your area), and Hulu Live. This is because these different programs offer local television streams. This way, you can stream the CBS or NBC games without dealing with the channel based applications.
Other services you can consider includes SlingTV, which is still the least expensive option of all the streaming services out there. With these services, it all comes down to the channels you want and the payment packages you feel like opting into.
If you want to stream NFL games, you have plenty of options. Some of these options you don't have to pay for, while with other options, you'll eventually need to pay for a streaming service. Thankfully, you can test out nearly all streaming services before you sign up. This way, you can test out the picture quality, find out if it's offered in your area, and go through the controls to see if you like the service interface. Whatever you decide to do, there's always a way to stream NFL games.