Watching live NFL broadcasts is like navigating a labyrinth. The networks and platforms that broadcast the games, which are among the most watched on US TV, have complicated rights deals with the NFL that grant them specific matches on specific platforms in specific parts of the world. The contracts betray little logic to anyone outside the negotiating rooms.
The Sunday day games are split between CBS and Fox; NBC airs Sunday Night Football, plus the annual kickoff and primetime Thanksgiving games; ESPN hosts Monday Night Football; the NFL Network televises games on Thursday nights, many of which will also air on Fox; and CBS has the next Super Bowl. Check out the full schedule for the 2019-2019 season here.
There a few different ways to watch NFL games live online:
For the first time this year, many NFL games are available to stream free via the NFL and Yahoo Sports apps. Previously, only Verizon customers were able to watch for free on mobile. Now all the live local and nationally broadcast primetime games like Sunday Night Football are available free on the NFL app and Verizon’s Yahoo Sports, Tumblr, and AOL apps in the US. None of those streams work on TVs. But, on iPhones and iPads, the games are also available on the Safari web browser.
To catch the out-of-market games on mobile and table—say, you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan living in New York—you’ll need an NFL RedZone subscription, which costs $4.99 per month.
If you have a cable subscription and you aren’t near a TV during NFL games, you can watch them live through the networks’ streaming platforms, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN Watch. Though you’re basically limited to your hometown-team games (if you are a fan of a team outside your local market, you’ll need NFL Sunday Ticket, see below).
You can also access local channels, ESPN, and the NFL Network through online TV-streaming services (more on these services below).
Most cable network streams aren’t available on phones because of the deal the NFL has with Verizon.
Subscribers of the streaming platform CBS All Access, which costs $6 per month, can access every game that airs on CBS in their local markets during the 2018-2019 NFL season. That includes the Super Bowl.
Amazon also sells CBS All Access to its Prime Video members through the Channels program, which allows people to pay for and watch numerous subscription services with the Prime Video app.
Amazon is live streaming 11 Thursday night games this season (the same ones that air on Fox and are simulcast on the NFL Network on US TV). The games are available to subscribers of Amazon’s $119-per-year Prime membership program, as well as for free on Twitch, Amazon’s streaming platform for video gamers.
Amazon will stream Thursday night games in weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15.
Football fans without cable TV can access the live CBS, Fox, and NBC broadcasts in some markets, as well as ESPN and the NFL Network, through myriad streaming-TV platforms.
- AT&T’s DirecTV Now sells a package including the local channels in select US markets, as well as ESPN and the NFL Network for $55 per month. It’s $40 without the NFL Network.
- Hulu’s $40-per-month live TV package comes with live local affiliates in some US markets, as well as ESPN. It does not have the NFL Network.
- Dish’s Sling TV sells access to the live local Fox and NBC channels in some US markets, as well as ESPN and the NFL Network, for $40 a month with its Sling Orange + Sling Blue package. It does not include CBS. NFL RedZone, an additional NFL cable channel that switches between games to show highlights in progress, costs $10 more per month with the Sling Blue Sports Extra add on.
- Sony’s Playstation Vue carries CBS, NBC, and Fox in certain markets, and ESPN and the NFL Network. Vue typically costs $50 per month with the NFL Network, and $45 without, though the company is currently running a discounted promotional offer. For $10 more per month you can also add on Vue’s Sports Pack, which includes NFL RedZone.
- YouTube TV’s $40-per-month streaming package also includes CBS, Fox, NBC broadcasts in some markets, and ESPN. It does not include the NFL Network.
NFL Sunday Ticket, a subscription service provided by DirecTV, is the closest to an all-access pass of the US NFL subscriptions. It’s nearly $300 per season and lets you watch all Sunday games not on your local stations. It’s expensive, but gives you the most live games out of market. (You won’t see games from hometown teams, but you can watch every other game.)
Sunday Ticket is available to add on top of a DirecTV subscription. It’s also available with DirecTV in some US markets or as a standalone subscription.
For fans outside the US, NFL Game Pass, which costs $99 per season, provides access to every game. Game Pass will stream all 256 regular season games, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl and offer on-demand viewing shortly after each game ends.
Game Pass live streaming is limited to devices outside of the US, but on-demand is available everywhere.
The sports platform DAZN’s $20-per-month subscription in Canada also streams live NFL games.
Want a better understanding Netflix and other streaming giants? Check out our guide to the streaming-TV wars