The bottom line
Sling TV paired with an HD antenna will get you most, if not all, your NFL games in 2019—and for cheap. That said, DIRECTV with NFL SUNDAY TICKET is a must-have for the fan who has to see every game this season. For more details, we break down the pros and cons of these two services, and more, below.
- Every. Single. Game.
- High price
- 2-year commitment
If it’s an all-access ticket to NFL games you’re looking for, then DIRECTV is your obvious pick. With ESPN, CBS, NBC, FOX, and exclusive access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV has your NFL wants—and dare we say, needs—covered.
While you might be tempted to get DIRECTV’s SELECT package for it’s cheaper price, we want to direct your attention to the real DIRECTV game-changer: the CHOICE package.
Starting at $69.99 a month, the CHOICE package has the same ESPN, NFL Network, FOX, and CBS coverage that the lower-tier packages have with the added access to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET that they don’t.
While DIRECTV has better coverage than the Legion of Boom ever did, its dominance doesn’t stop there. You get access to almost 200 additional channels for any non-football viewing time (does that even exist?) and an amazing DVR.
If you’re wondering, “What’s the catch?,” we were too. Basically, it’s the cost and the commitment. DIRECTV, like traditional cable companies, requires long-term commitment. You’ll be signed up for 24 months of TV, and the $69 monthly price is guaranteed only for the first year.
In addition to the price hike, little fees like the $19.98 activation fee and the $8.49 a month Regional Sports Fee can start to add up. And don’t forget that NFL SUNDAY TICKET after the first year costs around $293.94 a season. Yikes.
So DIRECTV is expensive, but if football is your life, then we think it’s the best option.
#2 PlayStation Vue
- No commitment
- Free unlimited cloud DVR
- Limited out-of-market games
Before we jump into the pros and cons, we’ve got to clear something up—you don’t need a PS3 or PS4 to watch PlayStation Vue. You can stream PlayStation Vue on most streaming devices, like Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast. Basically, as long as you have a good Wi-Fi signal and a compatible device, PlayStation Vue might be the stuff of your NFL dreams.
PlayStation Vue’s Core package offers the spontaneity of a streaming service (yay, no commitment!) with over 15 sports channels, including the NFL Network, ESPN, and CBS. At only $54.99 a month, that seems like a pretty good deal. If you’re feeling like that’s not enough sports, you can even add a Sports Pack for $10 more a month, which gives you NFL RedZone and 10 additional sports channels.
Like all streaming services, PlayStation Vue fumbles a little when it comes to local channel offerings. While most of the nation is covered, you’re not guaranteed local channels like you are with an antenna or cable subscription. If getting the home team is your main goal, be sure to check your local channel coverage before signing up.
So why does PlayStation Vue beat out other streaming services in our opinion? We love the unlimited DVR that allows you to relive all the greatest highlights over and over and the multi-view feature, which lets you watch up to three games at a time. (Note: multi-view works only on PS4 and Apple TV devices.) Next playoff season when you want to watch your team kick a game-winning field goal and keep tabs on your fiercest rivals, you can do it all on the same screen.
If you’re feeling you need more convincing, try PlayStation Vue’s free five-day trial opening weekend. If you’re still feeling nervous, remember you can cancel PlayStation Vue at anytime—no cancellation fee or commitment. Remember, if you’re really just here for NFL, you could just sign up for the NFL season, making it way cheaper than cable.
#3 Sling TV
- No commitment
- Low price
- Limited cloud DVR
- Poor local coverage
Sling TV is known for its rock-bottom prices with TV packages starting at just $25 a month. Currently, Sling TV will even throw in 40% off your first month. While cheap is great, knowing what you’re actually getting with each package can be confusing. To make sure you’re getting the games you want, you’ll want to read each package’s exact channel lineup. For the record, Sling TV channel lineups are annoying.
For example, the Orange package gets you ESPN, while the Blue package has the coveted NFL Network. We think it’s a travesty to ask any good NFL fan to choose between those, so may we suggest the Orange & Blue package? For $40 a month, you get access to NFL Network, ESPN, and local channels like NBC and FOX.
You might have noticed we didn’t mention CBS or ABC above. That’s because Sling TV drops the ball when it comes to local channels. You’ll probably get FOX and NBC, but getting CBS or ABC is a long shot.
But Sling TV is winning over some fans by giving them a free antenna with their subscription. You’ll get the local, in-market games for free, plus Monday Night Football on ESPN and Thursday Night Football on NFL Network for cheap.
And we do love Sling TV’s Game Finder feature. It allows you to pick your favorite teams, and it will tell you when the games are airing. No more combing the TV guide, just all your favorite games at your fingertips in moments.
Like Playstation Vue, Sling TV has no annual or two-year commitment, so cancel anytime. You can also try out a seven-day trial before signing up.
#4 HD Antenna
- Low, one-time price
- Local coverage
- No out-of-market coverage
If you’re a die-hard, paint-your-face-every-Sunday home team fan looking for a good deal, then the classic antenna might be the perfect solution for you.
But hold up. Did hearing the word “antenna” throw you into nightmares of foil-covered bunny ears? Fear no more. The antenna has changed a lot since you were adjusting them in your parents’ basement.
They’re smaller, lighter, and actually fit behind your TV—no more eye sore. They’re also surprisingly affordable. We personally like the Professional Carbon Fiber TV Antenna. It’s easy to install and has great picture quality. Most importantly, as a one-time purchase of $29.99, it sure beats out streaming, cable, and satellite TV subscription prices.
Dark horse: NFL GAME PASS
If you have the patience of Le’Veon Bell, you should consider trying out NFL GAME PASS. For $99.99 a season, you can stream all out-of-market games once they’ve aired and preseason games live. There’s even a spoiler-free feature to help keep final scores a secret.
While we think it might be hard to wait until after the game is over to start watching, it’s a decent option to catch all the out-of-network action.
Our final take
If you’re a hardcore fan, get the DIRECTV CHOICE package with free NFL SUNDAY TICKET for a year.
If you’re okay missing some out-of-market games, we recommend pairing Sling TV Orange & Blue with an HD antenna. You’ll save some serious cash and get local channels to boot.
How to watch NFL games FAQ
Can I watch the NFL on Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime will be offering access to 11 of the Thursday Night Football games through its Amazon Prime viewing app.
Can I watch the NFL on Hulu?
Yes, you can get NFL games if you’re signed up for Hulu + Live TV. With Hulu Live, you get access to channels like CBS, FOX, and ESPN, but it’s missing the NFL Network, so you won’t get everything.
How can I watch NFL games without cable?
Is there a way to watch all NFL SUNDAY TICKET without DIRECTV?
For most of us, the answer is no. For a lucky few, the answer is yes.
DIRECTV just started offering NFL SUNDAY TICKET as a stand-alone service, but you have to fit some very specific criteria. You must live in certain cities, have an apartment that cannot access DIRECTV, or be a student at specific universities.
So we think you should test if your location checks out before you get too excited.
How much does NFL GAME PASS cost?
NFL GAME PASS costs $99.99 a year, or four installments of $29.99. While that is a high one-time fee, it does get you all live preseason games and full-game replays for every regular season game.
Can I watch NFL Network online?
Yes. If you have a cable subscription you can log on to the NFL app or head to NFL.com/watch with your cable provider login and stream right away. If you’ve already cut the cord, then you can watch NFL Network through a live TV streaming provider like PlayStation Vue or Sling TV.
What streaming services offer NFL coverage?
With NFL games on ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network, chances are most streaming services will get you some NFL coverage.
If you’re looking specifically for NFL Network, stick to fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, or Sling TV. If ESPN covers your needs, then Hulu Live, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, or Sling TV would all be good picks. If you want our opinion, PlayStation Vue or Sling TV are the best picks since they get you both.
Can I watch NFL online for free?
No. While the NFL app is free to download, you have to log in with your provider info to get your live local and primetime games.
The only way to get truly free games online is to get a free trial from a streaming service. (You could try to pirate NFL game, but we would never recommend that, now would we?)
Can I stream the NFL playoffs?
Yes. The NFL app and Yahoo Sports app will cover all 11 playoff games.
Is there a way to watch all NFL games with DIRECTV?
DIRECTV offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which will get you every out-of-market NFL game. Combining the DIRECTV CHOICE package—which comes with free NFL SUNDAY TICKET for a year—with a basic HD Antenna for local network coverage should get you access to every NFL game.
Whitney Hansen is a freelance writer and English teacher. She’s been featured on Howtowatch.com and CableTV.com and can binge-watch Friends and baking competitions with the best of them. If you don’t find her watching, then she’ll be outside hiking, running, or rock climbing.