How to Watch the NFL Games without Cable on Apple TV & Online (UPDATED for tvOS 11)

If you’re a football fan without cable, figuring out how to watch the NFL games online or with an Apple TV is important. Whether you want to use the NFL mobile app, stream NFL games on your computer, or watch your favorite team kick ass on Apple TV, there's a number of ways to catch some or all of the NFL season games. If you’ve ditched traditional TV, you’ll need to know how to watch the NFL games without cable. Watching the NFL on Apple TV and online has gotten easier in recent years as more and more people are cutting the cable cord. For example, the NFL Mobile Verizon app is a dream for fans who want to stream NFL without cable and at no extra cost. But if you want to watch the NFL season on Apple TV, your iOS device, or simply with a computer online, we’ve got seven different options for how to watch the NFL games without cable.

We’ll cover your different options for watching the NFL season on Apple TV without a cable subscription including how to watch NFL games online, on Amazon, on NFL Mobile, on PlayStation Vue, on Chromecast, on Sling TV, and more. Although, if you do have cable, it's the easiest way to watch all the football you can possibly handle.

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NFL games are broadcast Monday nights, Thursday nights, Sunday afternoons, and Sunday nights on different networks: CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. This can make it hard to see every NFL game you want to without a cable subscription. Fortunately there are a lot of options for watching the NFL season without cable. Over-the-air antennas are free (aside from the cost of the antenna) and will offer significant coverage. Verizon customers will also have access to a limited range of live NFL games, though it’s not worth switching carriers just for that. And Amazon Prime members can catch the top ten Thursday night games for no extra charge. 

After these free options, what you choose will depend on what games you want to watch, how much you are willing to spend, and whether you are willing to wait to watch some games until after they have ended. You will probably need to combine several of the following options in order to catch all the games you want to see, especially if you prefer to follow a team outside of your local market.

Over-the-Air Antenna

Cost: Around $30 for a set-top antenna to $150 for rooftop antennas
Pros: Watch NFL games for free after initial purchase.
Cons: Local market games only. Only works in areas with good reception.

This is a relatively low-tech solution, but as far as price and simplicity go, this is an option that deserves serious consideration. Provided you are able to get good reception, an over-the-air antenna will allow you to watch local NFL games free after the cost of purchasing the antenna. You will need to check out one of the other options listed if you want to follow a team outside your location or watch the few local games that aren’t broadcast over your local network channels.



Compatible Devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Mac and PC, and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Cost: Must be Amazon Prime member.
Pros: Free if already an Amazon Prime user.
Cons: Only a limited number of games will stream on Amazon.

Amazon bought the rights to stream 10 of the NFL season’s Thursday night games online. The Amazon games will still be available on NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network, as well as with NFL Mobile Verizon app.


Verizon NFL Mobile App

Compatible Devices: Verizon iPhones and iPads
Cost: Free for Verizon subscribers
Pros: A nice benefit if you're already a Verizon Subscriber.
Cons: data charges may apply, only a good deal if you’re already a Verizon subscriber. Can only watch games live, no replay.

If you are one of the over 130 million subscribers to the nation's most popular wireless cellular provider, you're in luck. Thanks to the carrier's exclusive partnership, Verizon-activated iPhones and iPads have access to a limited range of live local NFL Sunday games via the official NFL app (free), although getting NFL RedZone via the app costs and additional amount per month. However, it's worth reiterating that only devices that are actually registered on your Verizon wireless plan are able to take advantage of Verizon's exclusive live-streaming offer. While certainly convenient, Verizon's live streaming offer is extremely limited in scope. Considering how many NFL games there are each week, Verizon only allows viewers access to a small percentage of games, and Verizon's partnership with the NFL doesn't allow for the ability to replay games after they have ended. In short, if you are a serious NFL fan, Verizon's deal probably won't cut it for you. However, it is one of the few free options for football fans who want to watch the NFL season without cable. 


Sling TV  

Compatible Devices: Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, iPhone and iPad, Mac
Cost: Blue ($25), Orange ($20), Blue and Orange together ($40), RedZone add on ($5)
Pros: No committment. Can subscribe only for the NFL season and then cancel.
Cons: Doesn’t carry CBS. You will need to subscribe to both packages for the fullest coverage at which point paying for cable might be worth it. Not all local channels are available in all markets.

Sling TV offers two packages, Orange and Blue. But since only Sling Orange offers ESPN, Fox, and NBC and only Sling Blue offers the NFL Network, serious NFL fans will probably want to sign up for the combined Orange and Blue package and possibly add the RedZone channel for an additional cost per month. At that point, the cost is equal to some cable packages. In addition, neither package offers CBS and not all channels are available in every market. See which local channels are available in your area here.


PlayStation Vue

Compatible Devices: PlayStation
Cost: Starting at $34.99, plus an addition one-time fee of $39.99 for NFL RedZone.
Pros: All the networks: NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN, NFL Network, RedZone.
Cons: One of the more expensive options. Not all channels are available in every region.

The Elite ($44.99) and Core ($34.99) packages offer all the channels needed to watch the whole NFL season without cable, but viewers who want the NFL RedZone will need to pay an additional one-time fee to access it and the package prices are approaching the cost of a cable subscription. Channel availability also varies according to region, so make sure to check that the NFL games and channels you want are available before signing up.


DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket.TV

Compatible Devices: Apple tV, Xbox, play station, and chromecast
Cost: (students get a discount $24.99/month) – $49.99/month
Pros: can watch every out of market Sunday game live.
Cons: Sunday Ticket.TV is only available where satellite service is not offered

DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket.TV only offers Sunday NFL games; subscribers will need to find another option for watching Monday and Thursday night NFL games. In addition, this is only available to viewers who live in an area where DirecTV's satellite service is not available. This option really only makes sense for college students who want to watch NFL games online and live outside of DirecTV's satellite service area and who can get the service at a big discount.


NFL Game Pass

Compatible Devices: – Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
Cost: $99.99, more for an “out-of-country” subscription, or free if you borrow someone else’s cable login.
Pros: Can watch every single game of the season.
Cons: You will need to use a VPN to simulate an out-of-country IP address if you want to watch games live.

Non-Verizon customers can still utilize the NFL Network app to watch games, but will either have to use a cable subscription service login or rely on the NFL's standalone subscription Game Pass ($99.99) package. If you have your Apple TV and iOS devices paired with your cable subscription service you will then be able to watch a huge selection of live NFL network programming from your iDevice or on your Apple TV. But those who live in the U.S. and want to watch the NFL games without cable will only be able to watch replays of the NFL games once they are finished; NFL Game Pass does not allow you to live stream games. In fact, this has been a source of frustration for many cord cutters. Since Game Pass subscribers who live outside the U.S. are able to watch live games, some subscribers have resorted to the questionable practice of using a VPN to create an out-of-country IP address. Buying a UK subscription is most frequently recommended. Note that you will need to set up your out-of-country IP address before buying Game Pass.


The fact of the matter is that the NFL still has a vested interest in supporting cable providers first and foremost, and it is not bending over backward to deliver live-streamed NFL games online to cord cutters. Do I think this will eventually change? Yes, I do. Just as every media outlet and entertainment provider has had to adapt to the changing landscape of streaming services and content on demand, I think that the NFL and other major sporting franchises will eventually have to get on the live-streaming and multi-platform bandwagon. However, this does nothing for those of us interested in live streaming this season's NFL games. 

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech