The 2021-22 football season is officially underway, and while the best way to catch all of the games is still on conventional cable, cord cutters can still get in on the action with a few smart hacks.
While the 32 teams took to the field last year in a modified season due to Covid-19, the 2021 NFL season has actually expanded to a 17-game schedule (up from a 16-game regular season). The NFL has also expanded the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams, effectively allowing one more wild-card team from each conference (this was first introduced last year).
More from Rolling Stone
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the defending Super Bowl Champions and will be looking to repeat as NFL champs this year, led once again by star quarterback Tom Brady. The latest Super Bowl LVI odds have the Kansas City Chiefs on top, with oddsmakers also listing the Bucs, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams as other favorites to contend for the Super Bowl 56 trophy.
How to Watch NFL Games Without Cable
The 2021-2022 NFL season will be broadcast across a number of networks, including CBS, NBC and FOX. CBS and FOX will air Sunday afternoon games, while you can watch Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Monday Night Football will air on ESPN and ABC, and the NFL Network will show a select number of Thursday Night Football games.
A simple TV antenna (like this one from Amazon) will get you access to all four major networks in HD quality, along with other local stations in your area. Pay for the antenna once and enjoy “free cable” for as long as you have it installed. Our pick below can be mounted indoors or outdoors and delivers a range of up to 120 miles, to pick up more stations than most basic antennas.
(Note: Monday Night Football will air on ESPN, which you won’t be able to pick up through the antenna. To watch football on ESPN or the NFL Network, you’ll want to consider one of our live sports streaming options below).
How to Stream NFL Games Online
For full NFL coverage, including CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC, as well as the NFL Network and ESPN, you’ll want to try out a live TV streaming service. That’ll get you access to the major networks, along with access to Monday Night Football on ESPN. Thursday Night Football games, meantime, are streaming exclusively on the NFL Network, which you can’t get with conventional cable or with an antenna.
We’re breaking down the best live TV streaming services online to help you find the best place to stream the 2021 NFL season online. Many of these providers are offering decent free trial periods too, so you can stream the NFL online free.
1. Stream NFL Games Live on fuboTV
Your best bet to watch the NFL online is through fuboTV. A monthly subscription to fuboTV starts at just $64.99 (cheaper than most cable packages) and includes all the major networks, plus the NFL Network and ESPN. Your fuboTV deal also includes NBCSN and FOX Sports for post-game analysis.
In addition to sports, a subscription to fuboTV gets you more than 100 other channels (including AMC, Bravo, E! and Showtime) plus 500 hours of Cloud DVR Plus, to record any games or shows you want to re-watch. The best part: three screens can be logged in at once, so you won’t have to fight over the channels while the game is on.
We like fuboTV for other sports too, with access to the NHL Network, NBA TV, MLB Network, Golf Channel and more. Just in time for the NFL season, fuboTV has a 7-day free trial offer right now with no commitment. Start your trial here.
2. Stream NFL Games on Sling TV
Sling TV is the cheapest live streaming service on our list, with plans starting at just $10 for your first month. The Sling Blue package gets you access to FOX and NBC (in most markets), plus the NFL Network. while Sling Orange gets you ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. Your best Sling TV deal is to combine them, with the Sling Orange + Blue package from just $35/month (see details here).
Sling TV channels also include AMC, E!, HGTV, USA and more. You can also add their “sports extra” package for 10 bucks, which gets you live streaming to NFL Red Zone, in addition to the MLB Network, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel and more.
Sling is offering a three-day free trial for new users here. You can stream the NFL on Sling on any device and any screen.
3. Stream NFL Games on Vidgo
Vidgo is one of the newer streaming options online but it’s become a hit with both cord cutters and sports fans alike. Vidgo’s new $10 deal gets you ESPN and the NFL Network in addition to ABC and FOX. You also get access to FOX Sports, ESPN 2, ESPN U, Big Ten Network and beIN Sports, for international matches (think live coverage of La Liga and Ligue 1 soccer).
Vidgo also lets you tack on NFL Red Zone and all the PAC 12 networks for college sports. Choose a subscription based on your terms – Vidgo doesn’t require any long-term contracts or hidden fees, and you can cancel anytime. Watch with friends on up to three devices at one. Try Vidgo out for $10 for your first month to live stream the NFL online. Price goes up to $55 a month after that.
Not sure you want to commit? Vidgo is currently offering a 3-day free trial to test out the service.
4. Stream NFL Games on Hulu + Live TV
You already know Hulu as the home of shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Nine Perfect Strangers and Only Murders in the Building, but their Hulu + Live TV service also gets you live streaming of NFL games on NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NFL Network.
With a subscription to Hulu + Live TV, you can follow your favorite NFL football teams throughout the season to watch their games live, or use the DVR function to record games to watch later. Grab a 7-day free trial to watch the NFL on Hulu for free, then continue for $64.99 a month after that.
5. Stream NFL Games on Paramount+
A subscription to Paramount+ (previously called CBS All Access) starts at just $4.99 per month and lets you live stream all the NFL Sunday matchups on CBS. All Paramount+ subscribers can stream NFL games on supported devices and platforms. As long as the game is broadcast on your local CBS station, it will be available to stream.
In addition to Sunday afternoon NFL games, your Paramount+ membership lets you stream more than 30,000 TV episodes and movies from the streaming service’s recently expanded lineup, which includes acclaimed originals like The Good Fight, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery, Why Women Kill, and a remake of The Twilight Zone, with Jordan Peele as the host and narrator. You’ll also get access to thousands of hours of content from BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and TV Land.
Try Paramount+ with a 3-day trial here to start streaming the NFL online for free.
How to Watch the NFL for Free Online
All of the above free trials will let you watch the NFL for free online, but if you want to watch the NFL online without signing up for a new service, there’s some good news: Amazon Prime members can watch Thursday Night Football online free simply by logging into Prime Video.
Games kick off live every Thursday night at 8:20pm ET/5:20pm PT. The NFL Network pregame show starts at 7:30pm ET, and you can also watch Prime Video’s own pregame show, NFL Next for free online, every Tuesday at 8:00pm ET.
Have an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV device? Just say “Alexa, play Thursday Night Football” and you’ll be instantly connected to stream NFL games live for free.
Don’t have an Amazon Prime membership? Click here to grab a 30-day free trial now in time to watch Thursday Night Football online free.
Best of Rolling Stone