Watch NCAA Playoffs with Apple TV: College Football Streaming without Cable

For many people January first marks the end of the winter holiday season and the beginning of New Year's resolutions; college football fans get a holiday extension, though. After watching their favorite teams all season long in the hopes they'll make it to one of the dozens of bowl games in December and January, NCAA football fans can enjoy three final games before the season ends. January first looms large as the penultimate day of NCAA football season: College Football Semifinals. This year college ball fans can look forward to Georgia vs. Oklahoma in Game One at 5:00 pm ET, followed by Alabama vs. Clemson in Game Two at 8:45 pm ET. Next up, the biggest day of the college football season: the College Football Playoff National Championship. The two victors of the NCAA College Football Semifinals will go head to head on January 8th, 8:00 pm ET, and you can watch the big games without cable, legally, with Apple TV. 

Let's go through your different options for streaming the College Football Semifinals and College Football Playoff National Championship on Apple TV. We'll discuss how to watch NCAA games on your Apple TV through a variety of methods including streaming TV options, and even packages and perks offered by your cellphone provider. Let's get started learning how to watch college football on your Apple TV ahead of the big games!   

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

Apple TV and College Football: Watching NCAA Football Without Cable

If you've cut cable out of your budget you already know that it's a bit complicated to watch all the college football you'd like to online. With so many NCAA conferences and teams granting broadcasting rights to such a wide array of conference-owned channels, regional, and national broadcasters, it can be diffiult to find the one method to rule them all when it comes to streaming college football. 

Fortunately, both the College Football Semifinals and College Football Playoff National Championship are broadcast by ESPN. Now we can rein in the scope of this article by focusing on which streaming options include ESPN, and there are quite a few!

Stream College Football With Sling TV 

Compatibility: fourth-generation Apple TV

Cost: Sling TV Orange Plan, $20 per month

Pros: Seven day free trial period with no commitment. 

Con: Sling Orange can only be viewed on one device at a time.

watch college football online

Sling TV is an a la carte, streaming tv service that allows viewers to pay far less than a cable subscription would cost. Customers can choose Sling Orange, Sling Blue, or both. Sling Orange is the way to go for streaming the semifinals and playoff, as this option includes ESPN. Sling offers a seven day free trial, and I'd suggest signing up in advance of the semifinals, so that you can make sure you're satisfied with the streaming quality. Chances are if you've been using your Apple TV with services like Netflix and Amazon your internet connection will be fast enough to handle Sling, but it's always nice to make sure you have a grip on a new app or service before a big game, especially if you're inviting friends over! As an added bonus, Sling offers a Cloud DVR option for $5 a month.  This way you can record the games and watch them later if you have work or family plans to accomodate. 

Here's a step-by-step instructional to help you find and install the Sling TV app on your Apple TV. 

NCAA Streaming With DirecTV Now 

Comaptability: fourth generation Apple TV 

Cost: $35 per month

Pros: Seven day free trial period. Streaming included for AT+T Wireless Customers.

Cons: Pricier than Sling TV

stream college football

DirecTV Now is DirecTV's streaming offering, and their lowest cost plan includes ESPN, which means you'll be able to watch all three big games! Like Sling TV, DirecTV Now offers a free, seven day trial, but if you decide to keep your subscription you'll be paying $35 per month. This rings in at $15 more a month than Sling, but then again you are getting more content, with more than double the channels offered by Sling Orange. DirecTV Now also offers simultaneous streaming on two devices, so if you're in the living room watching the playoffs on your Apple TV, football averse family members can still enjoy their movies and shows as well.

Here's a tutorial on how to set up DirecTV Now on your Apple TV.

Stream College Football on Apple TV with PlayStation Vue

Compatability: fourth generation Apple TV running tvOS 10.0 and up.

Cost: Five day free trial, then $39.99 per month.

Pros: Stream on up to five devices at once. 

Cons: Some channels are restricted outside of your home network, not all games are available to view on your iPhone.

ncaa live stream

You don't need a PlayStation to subscribe to PlayStation Vue, a live-streaming TV service that includes cloud DVR and the ability to stream on five devices at once. The least expensive package, Access, includes ESPN and rings in at $39.99 a month. 

Click here to learn all about setting up PlayStation Vue on your Apple TV.

Watch NCAA Games with Hulu Live on your Apple TV

Compatability: fourth generation Apple TV.

Cost: seven day free trial, then $39.99 a month.

Pros: watch on two devices at once.

Cons: Beta version, subject to glitches.

ncaa stream

Hulu makes the jump and joins the live-streaming tv game with their Hulu Live offering, which includes access to the entire Hulu streaming library. They warn right up front that this is a beta version and therefore subject to bugs and hiccups, so if you want to ensure the smoothest possible streaming of the NCAA final games, this could be slightly risky. As well, Hulu customers have complained about rated R commercials before, during, and after family and sports content, so if you're watching the big games with kids Hulu might not be the best choice for your family.

YouTube TV: NCAA games

Compatability: iPad and iPhone, no Apple TV app yet

Cost: $35 a month

Pros: No contract, up to six accounts per household.

Cons: Not available nationwide.

YouTube TV launched in 2017, and with 40+ channels, including ESPN, it's another great option for college football fans. The tv streaming service includes cloud dvr with no storage limits, so you can save your favorite shows and movies for later viewing at no extra cost. Unfortunately, it isn't available country wide yet, as I learned when I typed in my Iowa zip code. Another major inconvenience with YouTube TV is that there is no Apple TV app as yet, although one is slated for release this quarter. For now, you'll have to use your iPhone or iPad and AirPlay wireless streaming to get the playoffs on your Apple TV. Oy.  

ncaa football live steam

ESPN App for Apple TV?

espn app for apple tv

I wish I could tell you that you can use the updated ESPN app to stream the NCAA playoffs to your Apple TV. Actually, I can tell you that, but the downside is that you need cable to do so (sorry). With updated features that include the ability to watch four games at once, and change those games out from a menu of current live streams, the ESPN app would certainly be among the top choices for game day viewing. We can always hope that ESPN will see the light and start letting their app be used by live tv streaming subscribers as well as traditional cable viewers. Maybe the long anticipated ESPN+, slated for Spring 2018, will at last make the NCAA games on ESPN available to those without cable subscriptions!  

Your Cellphone Provider

It's worth checking in with your cellphone provider to see if they offer a package that streams ESPN games to your iPhone, which you can then push to your Apple TV with AirPlay. As mentioned earlier, AT+T has consolidated with DirecTV, so your streaming from DirecTV Now is included in your data plan. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon also offer an ESPN and college football package, and there are various add-ons available like T-Mobile's Binge-On, which includes unlimited data overages for multiple popular networks including ESPN. 

I hope you've found at least one method for live streaming the NCAA Semifinals and National Championship games to your Apple TV that works well for you. May you have good snacks, great beer, and a Happy New Year! 

 

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Leanne Hays is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life.  She loves reading and blogging, and is never without a book in her purse or an audiobook on her phone. Short-term goals include finishing painting her house and starting an aquaponics farm, long-term goals include a bike tour of Italy and writing a novel.