GUIDE: How To Watch the NFL on TV, Streaming and more

GUIDE: How To Watch the NFL on TV, Streaming and more

When looking at the landscape of American sports, there is one that stands clear of the rest: football. The National Football League (NFL) gridiron provides the perfect platform for some of America’s greatest athletes to deliver jaw-dropping plays and edge-of-your-seat moments.

Unfortunately, figuring out how to watch every snap can sometimes be as complex as the sport itself. Whether you're cheering for your local team or following a franchise across the country, understanding your viewing options is crucial. This article will look at the various broadcasters that showcase the NFL and break down the best packages for sports fans who don’t want to miss a single snap. Here is a run-down of your options and our opinion on what brings the best value.

Editorial rating (4.2/5)
Service type: Streaming
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Benefit: 7 days free trial

Overview of Viewing Options

To ensure you don’t miss a single snap on the gridiron, you will need the following channels:

Regional Blackouts and Workarounds

Regional blackouts are an issue that all sports fans have to deal with. There is nothing more annoying than hoping to tune into your local team’s game, only to find out that it has fallen foul of the regional blackout restrictions. These blackouts are in place to protect the exclusive rights of the regional sports networks (RSNs), allowing them to be the primary broadcasters of the game with much less competition in the local area. They were also implemented to encourage fans to attend games in person.

The ability to watch these games will depend on your access to the correct regional sports networks, which can be frustrating. The best way to understand the channels you need is the RSN Lookup Tool provided by DirecTV. By putting your zip code into this tool, you will be shown your in-market games, which will help you determine the television and streaming packages you need.

A social way to get around the blackout is by going to local sports bars or a friend's house, but sometimes you just want to put your feet up and enjoy the game on your own. In this instance, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will come in very useful for you. A VPN will encrypt your data, including your IP address, which will enable you to work around the annoying blackouts. It is important to use a reputable VPN provider like NordVPN or Surfshark, as some of the less high-profile providers have privacy and security issues.

Detailed Comparison of Services

NFL games are more readily available than other sports, with each of the major broadcasters airing games most weeks. Your location will determine which in-market games are available to you, but there are plenty of ways to ensure you have access to the out-of-market games as well.

There are four main slots for NFL games, which are all covered by the primary broadcasters. The majority of games take place on Sunday afternoon, with the prime-time slots each week falling on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. Fox and CBS cover Sunday afternoon, Amazon Prime has the Thursday Night Football slot, NBC has Sunday Night honors and ESPN is the broadcaster for Monday Night Football. Getting a package that has all of these options is your only way to ensure you catch all the nationally broadcast games.

  • Sunday Afternoon: FOX & CBS
  • Sunday Night: NBC
  • Thursday Night Football (TNF): Amazon Prime
  • Monday Night Football: ESPN

Cable and Satellite

The vast majority of cable and satellite packages will have the four main channels needed (FOX, CBS, NBC & ESPN), with Amazon Prime being the only one you need to add on in order to not miss the prime-time games. Cox, Dish, Verizon Fios and DirecTV are all primary options, each offering the channels you need, alongside a wide array of other television options.

  • Cox - $61.00–$152.00 per month
  • DirecTV - $69.99–$159.99 per month
  • Dish - $84.99-$114.99 per month
  • Verizon Fios - $69.00–$129.00 per month

Streaming options

There are lots of alternatives to cable packages, with many streaming providers now offering live sports. The likes of Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, fubo TV and SlingTV all offer the main channels needed for the nationally broadcasted games, with options to add on additional channels to catch out-of-market games. For example, Hulu has a $10-a-month add-on which will increase your viewing options to include NFL Redzone and other sports channels, such as Golf Channel and FOX Soccer Plus.

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Fubo Sports US
Price: Basic Plan from $79.99/mo.
Offer: 7-days Free Trial
Service Type: TV Streaming Service

Other streaming options

Many NFL fans will want access to more than just the nationally broadcasted games, which means exploring some of the extra streaming options. NFL Sunday Ticket is your best bet for expanding your viewing experience, as this will show every single regular season fixture that is not available in your area. It has recently moved to YouTube TV, costing $349 per season for YouTube TV subscribers and $449 for non-subscribers.

If you already have access to FOX and CBS and only want to add some or all of the Prime-Time games to your viewing experience, then there are options for that as well. Amazon Prime from $8.99 a month will give you access to all the Thursday Night Football clashes, with Peacock gaining you access to NBC’s Sunday Night games and ESPN+ giving you access to Monday Night Football. Pricing for Peacock starts at $5.99 a month and ESPN+ comes in at $10.99 a month. Both come with a selection of other channels to enjoy as well.

NFL+ is the final option, coming in at $8.99 a month, making it a much cheaper alternative to NFL Sunday Ticket. NFL+ subscribers will only have access to in-market games live, but full replays of the out-of-market games will become available once they have finished. NFL+ users are also limited to mobile or tablet use unless they upgrade to premium ($14.99), but they do get NFL Network and NFL Redzone.

Editor’s Choice:

For NFL fans who don’t want to miss a single snap, combining a cable or streaming service with Sunday Ticket is the best bet. DirecTV’s Choice package is our favorite cable option, thanks to it having the widest selection of regional sports networks to go along with its excellent channel package.

The best streaming option to look at is YouTube TV because this will give you the most cost-effective access to every single game. NFL Sunday Ticket allows you to watch all the out-of-market games for $349 a year when added onto the YouTube TV base package ($72.99). That base package includes all the major channels needed to catch all the prime-time games (minus Amazon Prime), and there is also an option to add on NFL Redzone as well. The cost is eye-opening, but Sunday Ticket is the only way to ensure you expose yourself to as much live NFL action as possible, and it comes with a discount if you get it alongside YouTube TV.

For those people who are much more focused on getting value for money, NFL+ at $8.99 a month is your best bet. You will have to wait until after the out-of-market games have finished to access the replays, but you will at least be able to watch every snap at a far cheaper price.

How to Watch for Free

If you want to tune into NFL action for free, you will need to be in the range of an ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX station, with a good-quality antenna to hand. Throughout the season, this will give you access to a good range of games, but you will be limited by the provider you are in range of and what they happen to be showing.

The only way to get wider access to NFL games for free is to leverage free trials of the various streaming services. It is only temporary, but with most providers offering a seven-day trial period, you can stack these one after another to create a good viewing window. Beware though, it is very important to remember to cancel these prior to their completion as the fees are expensive.

Season Schedule and Important Dates:


  • April 25-27th: NFL Draft
  • Early-May: Schedule release
  • August 1st: Hall of Fame Game
  • September 5th: Regular Season starts
  • November 5th: Trade deadline


  • January 5th: Regular Season ends
  • January 11th: NFL Playoffs start
  • February 2nd: Pro Bowl Games
  • February 9th: Super Bowl

Author: Venuse, Inc