NFL 2018: How to watch if you don't have cable

Your professional football streaming guide for the 2018-19 NFL season.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
5 min read
Al Bello, Getty Images

Are you ready for some football? If you are reading this, then I can only assume your answer is, "Yes, I am once again ready to surrender my Sundays to the NFL, to say nothing of my Monday and Thursday nights."

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 for 13 weeks of the 17-week regular season, 11 of which will be simulcast on Fox , Amazon Prime and -- in a first -- Twitch this season. There is also NFL RedZone to consider, 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. It's a great way watch snippets of out-of-market action and essential viewing for fantasy football GMs.

Let's get to your NFL streaming options for the 2018-19 NFL 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 an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV. In addition to the games on CBS , Fox and NBC , if your local team is playing on ESPN or NFL Network, then 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 and the 11 Thursday night games that air on Fox.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue, Sony's live TV streaming service, offers all the networks that show NFL games, and you can add the NFL RedZone channel for $10 a month extra. The $50 Core plan is the cheapest option that includes the five networks NFL fans need --- CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network -- and the $10-a-month Sports Pack will get you NFL RedZone.

Channel lineups vary by region, 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, NBC and your other local networks. This holds true for all streaming services that offer live TV.

DirectTV Now

DirectTV Now includes CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network. Its basic, $40-a-month Live a Little package will let you watch games on CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons, Sunday Night Football on NBC, Monday Night Football on ESPN and Thursday Night Football on Fox. You'll need to jump up to the $55-a-month Just Right package to get the NFL Network.

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).

Sling TV

Sling TV splits its live NFL options across its $25-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 at $40 a month (you get a $10 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 $10-a-month Sports Extra package, which includes NFL RedZone. Sling TV does not offer CBS, which typically carries AFC games on Sunday afternoons.

Use Sling TV's GameFinder to check if you can watch your live, local feed of Fox and NBC in your area.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN but not NFL Network, which means you'll get games on Sunday afternoon (CBS and Fox), Sunday night (NBC), Monday night (ESPN) and 11 Thursday night games (Fox). Hulu with Live TV costs $40 a month, and you should check to see which live channels Hulu offers in your area.

YouTube TV

Like Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV costs $40 a month and includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN but not NFL Network. It is currently available in dozens of major metro markets


The sports-centric FuboTV costs $40 for the first month and then $45 a month after that and includes CBS, Fox, NBC and NFL Network but not ESPN. You'll miss out on Monday Night Football on ESPN but will get the games on Sunday afternoons (CBS and Fox), Sunday nights (NBC) and all 13 Thursday night games (NFL Network). The $9-a-month Sports Plus package adds NFL RedZone.

CBS All Access

CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month. Four months of CBS All Access will take you through the NFL season, letting you watch AFC matchups on Sunday afternoons. It makes for a good add-on for Sling TV subscribers, who don't get CBS. (For the record: CNET is a division of CBS.)

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime will stream the 11 Thursday Night Football games this season that will be simulcast on Fox. In a first, the games on Amazon Prime will also be streamed live for free on the Amazon-owned Twitch, which means you don't need to buy an Amazon Prime membership for the express purpose of watching football.

NFL app

In previous years, only Verizon Wireless subscribers could live stream games on their phones with the NFL mobile app. Now, anyone can get a live NFL stream on their phone, regardless of carrier. You'll be limited to watching on your phone and will see only local, in-market games and the national broadcasts on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. Games will also streamed on the Yahoo and Yahoo Sports apps.

Correction, Aug. 9: This article was updated to correct the price for Sling TV's Blue plan, which is now $25 a month.

Correction, Sept. 7: This article was updated to correct the price for the first month of FuboTV, which is now $40.

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