There’s no way to sugar coat it for you: watching live football games online for free is nowhere close to the real deal. The video feed will lag, flicker, freeze and drop sound at any moment, a costly sacrifice you must be willing to make it you’re unable (or unwilling) to fork over close to $350 on a premium NFL package like NFL Sunday Ticket. Even watching college football via a GamePlan subscription on EPSN3 will run you close to $130 when it’s all said and done.
However, they often say something is better than nothing, and streaming live football at varying quality is the next best thing to hitting up the dive bar down the road, mooching off your friend’s premium account or missing the match entirely. After all, you’ll still be able to watch nearly any NFL game without having to opt for cable TV or other premium packages that will surely charge you more than an arm and a leg. You won’t want to miss the great Purple Jesus, aka Adrian Peterson, shatter Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record this time around (fingers crossed).
Here is our guide on how to stream football games online for free, whether you’re looking to catch NCAAF highlights or all the pre-season and regular season NFL games. We aren’t condoning your illegal activities, but merely offering potential solutions should you decide to skirt the law and engage in some borderline-illegal activities on your own accord. Proceed with caution.
Also check out our guide on how to connect your laptop to a TV if you want to watch all the pigskin-throwing action on the big screen in lieu of you 15-inch laptop, and our picks for the best fantasy football apps for — with a little luck — complete fantasy domination in the 2013-14 season.
Grab that jersey fella, it’s game time.
First Row Sports has become a household name when it comes to dedicated online streaming. Having survived multiple domain raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the international site has been in operation for years, offering an extensive selection of sports streaming that includes everything from premiere European soccer leagues to pay-per-view MMA specials. Like any live stream, the offered feeds can be finicky and remain susceptible to the occasional bouts of inactivity and video distortion, but they can typically be remedied with a quick page refresh or a little patience. Mirror links are often included during live events as well, but you’ll still have to navigate the sea of annoying advertisements and likely install additional plugins necessary for proper video playback. The potential for malware is also a constant, lurking threat, so make sure to check out our picks for the best free antivirus software and the best free antivirus software for Mac OS X to keep your machine up to speed with the latest protection.
WiZiWig may look like a gimmick, but it still ranks amongst the best sites for streaming sports on the Web. The interface appears outdated, with a simple white background and easy navigational tabs running along the top of the page, yet it aggregates a slew of up-to-date links to external peer-to-peer channels from around the globe (including those for viewing American football). The video streams are not flawless, meaning they will stall and pixelate like all the rest, but they work well if you’re able to find the appropriate link for the game(s) in question. Obviously, more high-profile matches will spur more live feeds given their significant, so finding many low-key matchups can prove to be challenge from time to time. The site is also surprising devoid of ads, except for those displayed during the beginning of the video streams, and offers options for viewing directly on the Web or via a torrent streaming program. And the best part? Viewing instructions are always included.
As the name implies, Ustream.tv is a site that broadcasts what users decide to put on it (which can be a double-edged sword). It hosts a wide variety of content, from billiards to horse racing, all housed within a sleek interface that offers little in the way of advertisements. Because the site’s content is based on broadcaster discretion though, you never know if you’ll be able to watch your beloved NFL team, especially once the gaze of the national audience shifts toward playoffs and away from losing teams. However, the streams look phenomenal when found, offering crystal clear audio and admirable video to match without requiring any external plugins or software that may weigh heavy on your system. It’s easy to use and efficient, equipped with integrated social media components for commenting and sharing, adding a level of community not present on any other streaming avenue on our list. Plus, if you’re feeling up to it, you could always play Good Samaritan and broadcast your own NFL feed if you want to offer your prime-time game stream to the masses.
Justin.tv has always beena bit lax on enforcing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act — which is likely the reason the site’s working status seems ebbs and flows with a wave of utter uncertainty. The site is primarily user driven, offering a steady stream of NFL games and related content akin to Ustream, but touts with more than 3,000 unique channels accessible from the attractive interface. Although the service is equipped to handle high-definition streaming, the video quality is hit-or-miss and at the mercy of the the broadcasters, frequently leading to grainy video due to the lack of proper equipment. Still, the site provides both amateur and professional channels, many of which stream multiple games and highlights in a row, as well as pre and post-game coverage if you’re looking for additional analysis and play-by-play breakdowns from retired vets and professional commentators. Like many streaming sites, ads don the border of various pages and the beginnings to video streams, but they don’t completely saturate the site like they do on First Row Sports. Now if only the video feed links would be updated in a more timely manner..
What do you think of our guide on how to stream live football game online for free? Which website is your personal favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below.