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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How to Watch Every NFL Football Game on a Streaming Service

Out of all the major sports, NFL football (that's American gridiron football to you, world) has long been the toughest, most convoluted to watch unless you're following the home team using an antenna. Don't expect it to change anytime soon either—the NFL signed decade-long deals with several television networks last year. But you don't have to resort to a Hail Mary yet. We've searched and found the best places to stream NFL football games this season.

Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including the Best Streaming Devices, Best TVs, and Best Soundbars to watch the game in style.

Updated August 2023: We've updated the guide to include YouTube TV's takeover of NFL Sunday Ticket and the new version of NFL+.

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The Best Way to Stream the NFLYouTube for $449+

The biggest news of the NFL season is that YouTube is the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows you to watch every out-of-market NFL Sunday game. NFL Sunday Ticket has long been the only way to watch every Sunday game, which is important to people who follow a specific out-of-market team. Under the old regime, it was long plagued by technical issues, which YouTube has a chance to fix. 

It'll cost ya, though. You can snag the NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone on YouTube for $449 and $489, respectively. (RedZone lets you watch every touchdown and “key” play from every Sunday daytime game.) There's no subscription required, and you can save $50 if you make the purchase before September 19. 

The other option is to use YouTube TV, which is a completely different service from Google. It's much more similar to traditional cable, with tons of channels. On YouTube TV, the NFL Sunday Ticket costs $349, and the Sunday Ticket with NFL RedZone is $389. You'll also need a base subscription to YouTube TV, which is $73 per month. You can get a $50 discount on your tickets if you sign up before September 19. 

It's important to note that you do need another streaming service, cable, or antenna for when your squad is being aired locally. The NFL makes decisions about which markets get which games each week, and you'll need to find a map of markets (506 Sports’ NFL Maps is great for this) before kickoff to know which route to take.  

If you want to add local and prime-time NFL games under one login, you can add YouTube TV for $73 per month. That's a wee bit more affordable than its competitors, FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV, and offers much the same lineup of live broadcast channels: CBS, NBC, Fox Sports, ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network. It costs extra to enable a 4K Add-On though. If there are non-sports-related reasons to consider YouTube TV, then it'll also enable you to watch the vast majority of NFL games just fine. If you're shopping solely to watch football, though, FuboTV (below) beats it out by a nose.

The Best NFL Streaming on Mobile and TabletsNFL+ for $80 Per Year

For anyone catching the games on a mobile or tablet, you get a lot of bang from NFL+ for $7 per month or $50 per year. The league's offering replaced NFL Game Pass. There are a few major hangups to NFL+ that make it incomplete. NFL+ lets you livestream local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on mobile and tablet devices only. That means you can't watch it on your computer or your TV. “Local” games are those available on TV in your local market, so if you're a fan in exile, living far away from your home team, you need the YouTube package above. 

There's a seven-day free trial for new subscribers. Upgrading to NFL+ Premium for $15 a month or $100 a year lets you replay old games ad-free and adds NFL RedZone. It's double the cost for not double the value.

Our Favorite Sports Streaming Package Has Football TooFuboTV for $75 Per Month

FuboTV for $75 per month is the most overtly sports-focused of the live-television streaming networks. Even the basic tier gets you access to NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and ESPN, so you can watch in-market Sunday daytime and evening games, Monday night games, and Saturday games. Plus, a lot of other sports. (The only way to watch Thursday night games for anybody, not just FuboTV subscribers, is through Amazon Prime Video.) 

FuboTV has an Elite tier for $85 per month that gets you more than 130 events in 4K resolution and an Ultimate tier for $100 per month that adds NFL RedZone

Other Streaming Services to Know

The Fox Sports App and FoxSports.com require a cable or satellite television subscription, so they aren't proper replacements for traditional TV. They're more like add-ons you can use once you sign in using your television subscription account details. As has been the case for years now, Fox Sports broadcasts only Sunday afternoon games and some Saturday games during the regular season.

The ESPN App and ESPN.com also require a cable or satellite television subscription, so you need to sign in to your active television subscription account to watch live games on them. ESPN (almost entirely) plays Monday night games.

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Hulu + Live TV for $70 per month offers much the same as FuboTV's basic tier, with NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and ESPN giving you access to nearly every game on Sunday, Monday, and Saturday. You can also get access to NFL RedZone by paying an additional $10 per month for the Sports Add-On. Bundled with the live television is access to regular old Hulu, which is one of our favorite streaming services thanks to its same-day access to new shows (such as Atlanta), exclusives (such as The Handmaid's Tale), and an impressive film library for cinephiles. 

Sling TV for $60 per month has two packages, Blue and Orange, each offering different channels. Blue has Fox Sports, NBC, and NFL Network games, while Orange has ESPN games. If you want to watch as many NFL games as possible, you're going to have to sign up for both at a discounted rate of $60 per month. Right now you get half off the first month. No Sling TV package carries CBS games, though, so you'll miss those shown exclusively on CBS. The Sports Extra add-on for $15 more per month gives you access to NFL RedZone. This is the package for you if you want to save money and are fine with not seeing all of the best games—or if you aren't often at home in front of a TV on Sunday afternoons when CBS is broadcasting.

DirecTV Stream for $75 per month doesn't require a traditional DirecTV subscription and doesn't lock you into any sort of contract. The entry tier, called Entertainment, gives you ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and local Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC games. New for the 2023–24 season, you can add NFL RedZone to any tier by paying $15 a month for the Sports Pack, which includes Fox Sports 2, NFL Network, and the CBS Sports Network, along with quite a few channels devoted to sports other than football. With the Premier tier, you get the Sports Pack at no extra charge. I recommended against DirecTV last year, but these additions make a strong case for any football fan to watch the vast majority of games. For $90, it's neck and neck with YouTube TV, at least until you factor in that YouTube TV took NFL Sunday Ticket away from DirecTV in this year's deal. But if you're not going to spring for Sunday Ticket, then DirecTV Stream makes a compelling alternative.

App-Only NFL Streaming

Want to cut the cord, ditch the traditional television providers entirely, and avoid forking over close to $100 a year for a live streaming service like YouTube TV or Sling TV? There are much cheaper options, but no single one will come as close to providing as many games as a live TV package. That said, even if you go with one of the choices above, you'll still need one or more of the apps below to watch the NFL's entire regular season.

ESPN+ for $10 per month or $100 per year exists to make things complicated. It's accessed through the same app as regular old ESPN, but it's a separate service that doesn't require you to have a traditional cable or satellite subscription to watch it. ESPN+ isn't really a replacement for regular ESPN. Many games shown live on ESPN won't be shown simultaneously on ESPN+. Consult ESPN+'s game schedule.

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Amazon Prime Video for $9 per month has been the exclusive provider of Thursday Night Football since the start of the 2022 season. That means if you want to watch the 15 seasonal games played on Thursday nights, you need to have Amazon Prime. Watching through Prime Video alone isn't going to satisfy any football fan who ends up missing the majority of their teams' games throughout the year, because here's the catch: Thursday night games are the only games you can watch. So you need Prime Video to watch the essential Thursday games, but you also need other services to watch games during the rest of the week. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, then Prime Video is included. If you don't and you want to subscribe to Prime Video only, prepare to fork over $9 a month.

Paramount+ Essential for $6 per month or $60 per year is CBS's streaming network, so it's beholden to the broadcast agreements that allow it to show Sunday daytime games and some Saturday games only. It doesn't include Sunday night games. You can also sign up for Paramount+ With Showtime for $12 per month or $120, but the catch is that live television still has advertisements. So if your goal is to watch live football games through it, you may as well save your money and go with the base tier. At least you don't need another television subscription to use it.

Peacock TV for $6 per month or $60 per year is NBC's streaming network, and like CBS and Fox, it's held to its old territory of broadcasting only Sunday night games. That doesn't include Sunday daytime games. Confused yet? Like Paramount Plus, you can pay an extra $6 per month or $60 per year to eliminate ads, but since you'll have to watch them during live TV anyway, it's a waste for watching football games live. You don't need an additional television subscription to use Peacock TV.

A Note on VPNs

Virtual private networks allow you to run your device's connection through a middleman server in a different location. So to other websites, your device appears to be connecting from London, Toronto, Chicago, Miami—wherever there's a server. Streaming services have rules about not using VPNs, and some attempt to block viewers who're using VPNs (with mixed results).

It's a bit more complicated to configure a VPN to run through your internet router—which is what's required to run your smart TV or streaming box through the VPN—but it can be done. Alternatively, you can connect your tablet, smartphone, or computer to a VPN and either watch it on your device or cast it on your smart TV or TV streaming device.

The Postgame Analysis

If it feels like you just won the game on a touchback, well, we share your sense of bewilderment. There's no single service that'll let you livestream all of the NFL's regular season games. In what's been the largest shake-up of NFL broadcasting, though, the winds of change are blowing. You may have to run a few different plays to reach your goal of streaming every live NFL game, but true fans never give up in the face of adversity, right?

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