If you’re a football fan and you’re cutting the cord, it can be tough to find all of the NFL coverage you want. The NFL Network is a key piece of the puzzle, but not all streaming services have it.
Continue on to learn how you can watch the NFL Network without cable and get all the NFL coverage you need without a pricey cable subscription.
- 1 What is on the NFL Network?
- 2 What Isn’t on the NFL Network?
- 3 Streaming Services that Carry NFL Network
- 4 The Best NFL Network Alternatives
- 5 Our Verdict: The Best Way to Watch the NFL Network Without Cable
What is on the NFL Network?
Not sure what exactly is on the NFL Network? Here’s what you need to know.
The NFL Network airs all 65+ NFL preseason games. Some games are broadcast live, but due to time restrictions, most are shown on a tape delay.
The NFL Network airs quite a few out-of-market games, primarily on Thursday nights. You will also get a few weekend games, though you won’t get any Monday Night Football games, as these air directly on ESPN.
You won’t be able to watch postseason games live on the NFL Network. These will be aired on FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC, depending on your area.
However, the NFL Network does have a lot of coverage throughout the entire NFL postseason. Shows like NFL Total Access and NFL Fantasy Live allow NFL fans to view commentary from past pro players, coaches, and popular sports personalities.
Super Bowl coverage
This year, the Super Bowl will be broadcast on NBC, so the NFL Network won’t show “The Big Game” itself. However, The NFL Network offer a huge amount of pre-game coverage. Talk shows, exclusive interviews, season highlights and more are shown during the lead-up to The Super Bowl.
The NFL Network is the only place where you can watch live coverage of the 2018 NFL Draft this April. After the Super Bowl and postseason, most NFL Network coverage is dedicated to draft predictions and expectations, as well as discussions about the past season and the future of the league.
What Isn’t on the NFL Network?
While the NFL Network and NFL RedZone offer good coverage of out-of-market games, there are some NFL games that they don’t carry. Here’s what you need to know.
Local games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl
The best way to watch local NFL games, the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl live is through CBS/FOX/NBC/CBS affiliate stations.
If you live in a major city, you can use a TV antenna to pick up broadcasts from CBS, FOX, NBC, and ABC.
All you have to do is pick up an indoor TV antenna such as the popular Mohu Leaf 30. If you live far away from your local TV stations, you may need to purchase a larger outdoor antenna, like the RCA Compact Yagi Outdoor Antenna.
Streaming Services that Carry NFL Network
There are currently 3 streaming services that have the NFL Network.
Sling TV’s Sling Blue subscription offers both NFL Network and NFL RedZone for just $25/month, making it the cheapest way to watch NFL football without cable.
NFL RedZone provides simulcast game-day coverage of all of the games currently airing throughout the country. It also often broadcasts multiple games simultaneously, using a split-screen. If you’re a huge NFL fan, NFL RedZone is a must-have.
On the other hand, Sling Blue does not include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, the SEC Network, or ACC Network Extra. You have to add the $20/month Sling Orange package to get access to those channels.
Sling TV splits the most desirable channels into two different base packages to encourage people to subscribe to both, which is a problem we mentioned in our full review. Sling TV’s confusing plans also makes their simultaneous streaming policy a bit hard to understand. You can stream on 3 devices at once with Sling Blue, but you can only stream on 1 device at a time with Sling Orange.
Sling does have a DVR, which allows you to buffer games and zoom through commercials. However, the DVR is not free. You have to pay $5/month extra to get DVR service. Another drawback of Sling TV’s DVR is that it doesn’t work with all Sling TV channels. You can’t record ESPN or Disney-owned channels, for instance.
However, the DVR does provide you with 50 hours of cloud storage without “slot” restrictions or expiration dates. 50 hours is enough storage for most cord-cutters.
Sling also offers pretty good platform support. You can stream on Sling TV using your Apple TV, web browser, iOS and Android devices, LG/Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox One gaming console, Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire devices.
Sling TV gives you both the NFL Network and NFL RedZone for just $25 a month if you don’t get the DVR. To get the same set of channels on other streaming services, you’d pay nearly twice as much.
If you choose to go with Sling Blue, you will miss out on ESPN and some other sports channels unless you also get Sling Orange. But even if you do choose to get Sling Blue + Orange, and the $5/month DVR, Sling TV is still a very inexpensive option for watching the NFL Network without cable.
Sling TV is currently offering a risk-free 7-day trial.
If what you’re looking for is comprehensive, unbeatable sports coverage, it’s hard to do better than fuboTV. The only missing piece of the puzzle is ESPN.
A fuboTV subscription costs 40$ to 50$ per month and gives you access to up to 70 channels, depending on your location. The standard fuboTV package includes the NFL Network, regional Fox Sports networks, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, NBA TV, CBS Sports Network, and much more.
fuboTV’s “Sports Plus” package costs $9/month. It includes NFL RedZone, as well as NBC Universo, regional PAC12 college football stations, and a number of FOX Sports affiliates.
One of the main drawbacks of fuboTV is that you can only stream content on 2 devices at once. If you are part of a larger family or household, this might be overly restrictive.
fuboTV does have a cloud DVR, but it is a bit limited. You only get 30 hours of total recording time. If you’re out of space, your oldest shows will be automatically overwritten.
App support is pretty good for fuboTV, though. You can access fuboTV in your web browser, or on your iOS/Android smartphone or tablet. Streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast are also supported, as is Android TV.
fuboTV provides NFL and NFL RedZone at a good price. fuboTV has a somewhat limited simultaneous streaming policy, though, and a relatively restrictive DVR.
If you think you might like fuboTV, you can check it out for yourself with a free trial.
PlayStation Vue has the NFL Network in its $45 “Core” package. Around 60 channels are included with Core, though the amount of channels you get can vary somewhat based on your geographic location.
In addition to NFL Network, Core has ESPN, ESPNEWS, ESPN U, NBC Sports, Fox Sports 1/2, NBA TV and The Olympic Channel.
Vue’s $10/month “Sports Pack” includes NFL RedZone, regional Fox Sports networks, Eleven Sports, and ESPN Goal Line and several other sports channels.
Only PlayStation Vue lets you to stream on up to 5 devices at once on your home network. If you are part of a larger household, this is a huge advantage.
PlayStation Vue’s DVR is excellent, too. It allows you to record unlimited games, shows, and content for up to 28 days.
Device support for PlayStation Vue is also quite good. You can watch on your browser and on mobile Android/iOS devices, as well as Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles are also supported.
PlayStation Vue also gives you access to the NFL Network app. You can use your PlayStation Vue login to watch live games and broadcasts, as well as archived content on the NFL Network App, just like you would if you were a cable subscriber.
If you’re on a budget, there are better options out there. However, if you have a large family, PlayStation Vue may be worth the investment. You also get a login for the NFL Network App, which you don’t get from any of our other picks.
The Best NFL Network Alternatives
NFL Sunday Ticket is a service offered by DirecTV to their customers, which allows them to stream all NFL out-of-market games directly to their TVs, smartphones, and more. The basic package costs $70 per month for 5 months.
NFL Sunday Ticket requires users to have a DirecTV subscription, as long as they are in an area where they can get DirecTV service — unless you live somewhere that DirecTV isn’t available. Mostly, this is on military bases, high-rise condos and apartments where you can’t get DirecTV, college campuses, and in some regions of the United States where satellite access to DirecTV is impossible.
During the regular season, you can head to the NFL Sunday Ticket page to check your eligibility. And if you’re a college student, you can get a better deal on NFL Sunday Ticket.
Students can get an NFL Sunday Ticket “U” subscription for a total cost of $100. This bundle includes NFL RedZone for no extra cost, and you can add NFL Game Pass for just $49.
NFL Game Pass gives you access to replays of every pre-season, regular season, and playoff game of the season, as well as replays of the Super Bowl. It costs $100 for a yearly subscription.
Aside from the preseason, you can’t watch live games on NFL Game Pass. However, NFL Game Pass does let you listen to live Game Day broadcasts over the radio, using the NFL Radio feature.
You can also watch “condensed” replays of games on NFL Game Pass. Condensed replays remove commercials and time-outs to cut the action down to about 45 minutes, allowing you to watch more games every NFL Sunday.
You will also get access to the NFL Films Archive, which includes plenty of classic NFL content. See the full list of shows here.
Both the NFL and NFL Network have official YouTube channels. Both channels have a surprising amount of content. You can watch highlights from past games, exclusive post-game interviews, original web-produced content segments, and videos from popular NFL Network shows. You can even watch past Super Bowl games for free online.
You won’t get any live coverage of games on YouTube, but there’s a ton of content for NFL fans, and you don’t have to pay a dime for any of it.
Our Verdict: The Best Way to Watch the NFL Network Without Cable
So, what’s the best way to watch the NFL Network without cable? The answer depends on what you’re after:
The budget option
Sling TV is the cheapest option by far. For $25/month ($30 with a DVR) you can get both NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
PlayStation Vue is expensive, but it has the best features. The basic cost is $45/month and you have to pay additional $10/month for NFL RedZone. However, Vue has a fantastic simultaneous streaming policy and an excellent DVR.
You also get a NFL Network mobile login, so it’s easier to watch archived and live NFL content on-the-go.
fuboTV offers pretty good NFL coverage for the price, and incredible coverage for international sports through networks like NBC Sports and beIN Sports. However, it lacks ESPN and some other major sports channels which NFL fans may want.