By Chris Brantner
With the football season heating up, it’s time to make sure you have a way to catch all the biggest matchups. Luckily, watching NFL games no longer requires you to pay for an overpriced cable subscription. And Apple users have a plethora of options to stream pro football without cable this season.
No matter which Apple device you use, you’ll find a wide range of apps to let you watch NFL football. Here’s a rundown of some of the best options for streaming NFL games this season.
Apps for streaming NFL games on Apple devices
This season, you can download a few apps specifically for streaming the NFL from the App Store. Unlike traditional streaming services, these apps are meant solely for sports streaming and thus offer a streamlined experience.
This year, the NFL has released its own app that lets users stream in-market and nationally broadcast games, with a few restrictions on games broadcast exclusively by the NFL Network. The NFL app will stream Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl this year.
Note that you cannot mirror games streamed through the NFL mobile app to your TV. They must be watched directly on your iPhone or iPad. Be aware, too, that streaming these games eats up a ton of data. Try to stream over Wi-Fi to avoid killing your data plan for the month.
Like the NFL mobile app, the Yahoo Sports app will also stream all the nationally televised games broadcast on CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network. The games which are exclusive to the NFL Network must be streamed on a phone over a cellular connection, though — no Wi-Fi allowed for those.
In addition to streaming NFL games, the Yahoo Sports app offers commentary, analysis and extras for the hard-core football fan. Yahoo Sports is even now producing its own original content exclusively for streaming in order to provide what Yahoo Sports head of content Sarah Crennan calls the “most immersive mobile experience for football fans.”
Fox Sports Go
The Fox Sports Go app is free to download, but requires a cable TV login or authentication from one of several streaming services which will be discussed below. The Fox Sports Go app can be used to live-stream NFL games broadcast on Fox, and is compatible with all iOS devices or can be streamed on Macs through the Fox Sports Go website.
Like Fox Sports Go, the NBC Sports app requires login credentials from either a streaming service or a cable provider. It also allows you to live-stream NBC broadcasts of NFL games on all Apple devices.
The WatchESPN app allows you to watch NFL games broadcast on ESPN regardless of whether you have a cable or streaming service subscription. The app is compatible with all Apple devices, and live streams of games are free. So are scores of other sporting events and even the NFL draft.
Amazon Prime and Twitch
The long list of perks for Amazon Prime members keeps getting longer. This year, Amazon Prime will stream 11 Thursday Night Football games on the Prime video app free for Prime subscribers. Prime memberships starts at $119 per year or $12 per month. However, you can sample the service with a free 30-day trial to see everything Prime can do for you.
Since Amazon now owns popular streaming service Twitch, these games will also be simulcast on Twitch free for anyone to watch. Head over to the app store and download Twitch to catch these 11 games completely free this year on your Apple device.
Streaming services for watching NFL games on Apple devices
In addition to the dedicated apps above, there are many great options for streaming services that will stream the NFL this year on your Apple device. In addition, many of these feature live streams of the hottest cable networks and huge libraries of on-demand content.
Hulu with Live TV
For $40 a month, Hulu with Live TV can easily replace cable for most households. Hulu Live offers more than 50 channels, including ESPN, FOX, NBC and CBS. That means you’ll be able to watch live streams of Monday Night Football, Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS, Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.
In addition, Hulu with Live TV offers app authentication for WatchESPN, Fox Sports Go, NBC Sports and CBS Sports. Hulu Live comes with a DVR and is compatible with Apple TV, iPhone and iPad. You can even watch it in the Safari web browser. Check out a free seven-day trial to see everything Hulu with Live TV has to offer.
DirecTV Now is a great cable replacement for households that still want to retain channel selection and flexibility. It can be customized with dozens of add-ons and packages, including sports packages that offer NFL Network and more. DirecTV Now does not require a cable subscription but still offers live streams of all the major networks that broadcast NFL games: ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS in most markets. In addition, channels like FS1 and ESPN2 provide off-the-field analysis and news to keep you up-to-the-minute with all the NFL action.
DirecTV Now starts at $40 per month, includes a DVR, and is a great way to stream the NFL on Apple devices like Apple TV and iOS devices. Sign up for a free trial and start streaming the NFL this Sunday.
Sling TV is one of the most budget-friendly streaming services and is a flexible way to stream the NFL on Apple devices. Starting around $25 per month, Sling TV offers live streams of ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, Fox and NBC — but not CBS. In addition, you’ll be able to authenticate WatchESPN, Fox Sports Go, NBC, NBC Sports and NFL mobile apps with a Sling TV subscription.
Note that some local restrictions apply to NBC and Fox; some markets don’t offer live local streams of these affiliates. You’ll still be able to catch games broadcast on NBC and Fox by logging in to the Fox Sports Go and NBC Sports apps, though. Sling TV offers a seven-day free trial and is available on iOS devices, Apple TV and Safari.
fuboTV is a streaming service designed from the ground up to cater to hard-core sports fans. For $40 a month, fuboTV offers live streams of Fox, NBC, CBS, NFL Network and NFL RedZone. That makes it easy to catch Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS, Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. Note, though — ESPN networks are not included with fuboTV. You’ll need to find another way to stream NFL games on Mondays.
Still, for fanatics who enjoy other sports in addition to the NFL, fuboTV can’t be beat. It offers app authentication for Fox Sports Go, NBC Sports, NBC and the NFL mobile app. And it can be installed on iOS devices, Apple TV or watched via Safari. Sign up for a free week-long trial and see what the sports freak in your household has been missing.
YouTube TV is stepping up as a full-on cable killer and a great way to stream the NFL without cable. The service offers live streams of ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and even local affiliates in many markets. Check your local availability to see which networks you can stream in your area.
YouTube TV does not offer NFL Network or NFL RedZone. But it does offer authentication for Fox Sports Go, NBC Sports, WatchESPN, CBS and CBS Sports, making it easy to keep up with all the NFL action all season long. YouTube TV starts at $40 a month and is compatible with iOS devices, Apple TV and Safari. Like other streaming services, you can give it a shot for a week with a seven-day free trial.
PlayStation Vue is perfect for large households because it allows for up to five simultaneous streams with just one subscription. It is a full-featured cable replacement, with a huge channel selection and DVR. Subscriptions start at $45 a month, with add-on packages that include speciality sports networks like NFL Network.
PlayStation Vue offers live streams of ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, Fox, NBC and CBS in addition to live locals in some markets. Despite its name, PlayStation Vue does not require a Sony PlayStation console. It is compatible with iOS devices, Apple TV and web browsers like Safari.
Don’t miss a single NFL game this season
The streaming revolution has reached the NFL. There are more ways than ever to stream NFL games on Apple devices. Your best option is likely one of the full-featured streaming services above. But some of the dedicated apps also offer a great deal of flexibility for catching the NFL on-the-go.
Apple device owners have a huge degree of flexibility, as nearly every major streaming service and app is compatible with all Apple devices. Choose one that sounds right for you, sign up for a free trial, and start streaming the NFL free this weekend.
Chris Brantner founded Streaming Observer, a website for cord cutters.