In 2020, your options for watching NFL action online are plentiful. Almost all of them will cost you in some way, but there are several avenues for catching nearly any game you want. To help keep you caught up on the action, we compiled this comprehensive guide on how to stream the gridiron fun online.
The winner of Super Bowl LIV was decided February 2, 2020, and we won’t play spoiler if you haven’t already seen it. Although the game is over, you can still watch the replay on NFL Game Pass, which we highlight below as the best way to catch non-live NFL games. The 2020 season is over and the pigskin horn-locking will resume this September, so take this idle time to review your best options for tuning in.
Thursday Night Football
The Thursday Night Football schedule is always complicated for streaming. While NFL Network gets all the games, 11 of them are available from multiple outlets.
In 2018, Fox paid a reported $3.3 billion to land telecast rights for those 11 games for five years, and those available down the road. Meanwhile, Amazon shelled out big bucks for TNF streaming rights, landing the same 11 games for its Amazon Prime Video service, as well as its Twitch video service.
Unfortunately, Thursday Night Football for the 2019 NFL season has wrapped up, so you’ll have to find something else to fill your midweek void. As noted above, Fox and NFL are linked up for half of a decade on this deal, and we’ll share the full 2020 schedule as soon as we know it.
If you live in a dorm, apartment complex, or city that doesn’t allow for access to DirecTV, you may be eligible to buy the company’s coveted NFL Sunday ticket package without having to sign up for satellite. The standard streaming package — which currently starts at $73.49 a month under a four-month promotional period — allows you to stream out-of-market games on your computer, smartphone, game console, or smart TV, no satellite required. You can find out more about this package, and whether or not you qualify, at the link above.
While this option represents one of the most comprehensive ways to watch the NFL, it does come with a few caveats. First, Sunday Ticket only grants users the ability to watch games on Sunday, without access to Sunday night, Thursday night, or Monday night contests. Local games are also subject to blackout, which means DirecTV is “restricted from showing events near where a game is played or broadcast locally.”
Sling TV offers perhaps the best bang for your buck online, including options for ESPN, NFL Network, and the all-important RedZone Channel — but like a lot of online relationships, it’s complicated.
The package is broken up into two segments, including Sling Orange and Sling Blue. With Sling Orange, you can watch Monday night games on ESPN for $30 a month, but you’ll be restricted to streaming from one device at a time, and there’s no NFL Network or option to purchase NFL RedZone. At the same price, Sling Blue users get access to NFL Network, and the ability to stream to multiple devices, as well as possibly watching games on NBC and Fox (depending on where you live), but you don’t get access to ESPN. You can, however, purchase the Sports Extra package for $10 a month and have NFL RedZone. Yes, it’s convoluted, but that’s where we are now.
For the best shot at the NFL season, we recommend going for the $45 package, which gets you both Sling Blue and Orange and then adding Sports Extra for RedZone. You also get a Cloud DVR, but it isn’t available for ESPN networks. Sure, it gets a bit pricey, but you do get pretty much everything you need for NFL streaming (shy of the full Sunday Ticket package, of course), and you can always drop after the season.
AT&T knows that cord-cutting is popular, so the company has followed suit with competitors in creating an online-only TV service, AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now). Prices start at $65 per month for the entry-level package, which gets you more than 45 channels — including ESPN for your Monday Night Football fix.
If you’re lucky, you might also be able to watch live Sunday football on CBS and Fox, Sunday Night Football on NBC, and Thursday games on Fox, but live local channels are only offered in select cities — you can find out if you get them with this handy tool. The package also features a Cloud DVR. Unfortunately, NFL Network-exclusive games won’t be available because AT&T has decided to drop NFL Network and NFL RedZone from all DirecTV and U-Verse offerings.
It is currently available only in select cities, but if you’re in one of those areas, you might want to take a look at YouTube TV. For $50 a month, you’re guaranteed to have CBS, NBC, and Fox, so you’ll be able to get your NFL fix on Sunday (based around your in-market games, of course), Sunday night, and Thursday night for most games this season. It also has ESPN for Monday Night Football, but no NFL Network or RedZone. The service also comes with a cloud DVR system, but with some restrictions.
Hulu’s live tv subscription is proving to be a favorite for a lot of cord-cutters. At $55 per month, you get access to Monday Night Football on ESPN, Sunday Night Football on NBC, and other nationally broadcasted games throughout the week on CBS and Fox. Like most other online subscriptions, your locally televised games may or may not air, depending on where you live. Unlike most other services, you also get access to Hulu’s original programming and on-demand content as part of your package. You don’t, however, get access to NFL Network or RedZone, and if you want to DVR a game you have to pay an extra $15 a month to fast-forward commercials.
Yet another live TV streaming service, FuboTV is all about sports, so it makes sense it would serve up some NFL action. That said, even though its packages start at $55 per month, it has a huge hole in its coverage: No ESPN. It does, however, carry NFL Network, and depending on your area, local affiliates for Sunday games, as well as an option to add NFL RedZone for another $9 per month through the Sports Plus package. This service will mostly appeal to those into all kinds of sports, including college football nuts, but you may want to check what’s available in your area before signing up. Supported devices include computers, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Android and iOS devices, and Chromecast.
If you’re not committed to a fantasy team or only watch the NFL casually, CBS All Access might be an option for you. For $6 a month, you get live access to CBS’ AFC games on Sundays. This is the cheapest subscription on the list, but that’s because you’re missing way more games than you get, and most people can access in-market games with a simple HD antenna anyway. Still, if you’re looking to tiptoe your way into football fandom, All Access is a decent starting point, and shows like Star Trek: Discovery alone could make it worthwhile for some.
NFL mobile app
It used to be that only those paying a hefty Verizon bill every month could get NFL streaming on their phones, but as of 2017, everyone can get in on it regardless of carrier. The NFL mobile app and Verizon’s portfolio of streaming properties — including Yahoo Sports and its go90 service — will stream “in-market and national games, including national pre-season, regular season, playoff games, and the Super Bowl nationwide to sports fans,” on mobile devices, along with highlights and other content. The biggest drawback is that, unless you can find a workaround, you’ll be stuck watching on your phone as the app blocks mirroring to your TV from most devices.
Launched in 2015, NFL.com offers a subscription streaming option called GamePass, but it isn’t as desirable as you might think. For $100 or four installments of $30, a GamePass subscription allows you to stream any regular-season game after it’s aired, and lets you rewatch games going back to 2009. The biggest draw to watching sports is watching the game unfold in real-time, so this option doesn’t offer much for most fans. But GamePass is a great choice for fans who can’t watch games live or just students of the game, and it’s also a great place to catch live preseason games ahead of the season.
Pay TV subscription required
These options require you (or someone who likes you very much) to have an active pay TV subscription with one of several providers, which (as noted by the Streaming Observer’s Chris Branton), includes some of the live TV streaming services mentioned above, such as Sling TV.
Football fans with a pay-TV subscription will appreciate the Fox Sports Go app, which gives access to dozens of streamable NFL games. Compatible devices include Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV, and both iOS and Android mobile devices. You can also watch on your browser.
NBC airs Sunday Night Football games (including the season opener on Thursday, September 5) throughout the regular season and the network also streams the games online via its app and NBCSports.com, available with your pay-TV credentials. The NBC Sports app is available on Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android supported devices. The NBC Sports app is actually pretty sweet if your interests go beyond football, too. PGA, Premier League soccer, and the Olympics all air on NBC, so the app is pretty valuable even after football season.
If you want to go straight to the source, the NFL Network offers streaming access to its broadcast games and RedZone, depending on your cable or satellite provider. As mentioned above, RedZone’s scoring storm showing any team close to putting up points, often splitting the screen between multiple games, is the big-ticket item. If you’re a fantasy guru, this is also a great way to stay on top of all your players. You (or someone you know) will need to purchase the NFL Network from your cable or satellite provider to get it.
WatchESPN is an online-only companion service that lets you stream live Monday Night Football. For now, you must have a paid subscription to a compatible pay-TV service to use the app, but the good news is the app has gotten a lot better in recent years, losing a lot of its stuttering ways. ESPN only holds the rights to air Monday Night Football games, meaning it won’t work for Sunday games, and, in case you were wondering, the stand-alone app, ESPN+, does not carry the NFL.
- Sling TV: Everything you need to know
- Sling TV vs. Hulu
- Sling Orange vs. Blue: What’s the difference?
- What is YouTube TV? Here’s everything you need to know
- Cut the cord: How to quit cable for online streaming video