How to watch the NFL without cable?
August 25, 2016 7:07 PM   Subscribe

What is the legal, legit way to watch NFL games at my home? Difficulty factor: not tech savy. Details inside.

We have: a television with broadcast channels (other than CBS which won't come in), a Roku, a Wii, a PS4, Apple desktop & laptop, iPad, iPhones, Netflix, Amazon Prime, a willingness to pay for this service

We do not have: any kind of cable subscription, any satellite subscription

Mr. BlahLaLa, who just wants to watch the Seahawks without going to a sports bar, feels quite confused by the entire process. There is some sort of NFL channel on the Roku, but it seems like it's only for DirecTV subscribers. He thought he could watch on the PS4 but now seems unable to figure it out.

Could someone talk me through this like I'm your addled granny? Thanks.
posted by BlahLaLa to Technology (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tonight's game is on Fox. Does your TV pick it up over the air? It's channel 13.
posted by SakuraK at 7:17 PM on August 25, 2016

If you want to watch all of the Seahawks games this year, your only legal strategy is DirecTV's Sunday Ticket package.

DirecTV doesn't want to sell Sunday Ticket by itself, but instead uses it as a loss leader to sell satellite TV. Generally, you can't get ST without signing up for a full two-year contract satellite package.

However, there are two exceptions to that:

1) If you live in an apartment that cannot get DirecTV via satellite (they have an enormous address database and will check), you can sign up for the online version of Sunday Ticket. It's not as good as the real thing (video quality is poor), but it allows you to watch the games. The billing address on your credit card must be such an apartment.

2) If you are a college student (they have some sort of authentication scheme with colleges to check), you can buy Sunday Ticket online access directly.

I'll just mention that in both cases, it is possible to have a friend who meets the criteria buy the online access and give you the username / password.

They are very persnickety about allowing only one person to use a username/password combination at a time. If the phone / tablet / Roku / computer you are using to watch the game crashes, it'll take about ten minutes for them to decide that you're not watching it any more and let you start watching again.

Also, Sunday ticket only shows games that are on CBS and FOX on Sunday. It does not include Thursday night, Sunday night, or Monday night games. It also blocks games that are being broadcast on CBS or FOX in your local area. But Seattle will only be on CBS on Sunday twice this year.
posted by Hatashran at 7:46 PM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify: we live in Los Angeles.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2016

Also, if you're a Verizon customer, you can access NFL Network programming on your smartphone through the NFL app. I know it kind of sucks to watch a football game on a smartphone, but it's legal and the video quality was actually better than my laptop.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 8:07 PM on August 25, 2016

Where do you live? I assume you're not local to Seattle? If you are, every game will be on NBC, CBS, or Fox. National ESPN or NFL Network Seahawks games are surely broadcast on a local affiliate as well, but I don't live in the area so I don't know which station (or you can probably get ESPN and NFL Network with Sling or PSVue).

Unfortunately, as the previous response mentioned, Sunday Ticket is the only game in town, and it doesn't meet your requirements.

Something out of left field: if you are okay to start watching the games after they've finished, you can get NFL Game Pass for $100/year. The Sunday afternoon games are available by 8 PM ET and the night games are available after the game is over.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 8:08 PM on August 25, 2016

Response by poster: (Phones are ATT.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:08 PM on August 25, 2016

Do you have a friend or family member in Seattle with a Slingbox that can "sling" it to you?
posted by AugustWest at 8:21 PM on August 25, 2016

You can get PlayStation Vue on your PS4 for something like $30-50 per month. This is live tv for cord cutters, basically. The access slim package, which is $30 in the Boston area, has ESPN, ESPN2, and the NBC sports network. I don't know a whole lot about football, but it seems like there might be some on those channels, right? If you are willing to pay more, I am sure you could get more sports channels. (actually, I just went to check the link, and there is a pop-up that tells me you can get NFL network on PlayStation Vue now. You just add something called NFL red zone to the core or elite packages).

You can subscribe to PlayStation Vue either on the web or through your PS4. You download it to your PS4 like an app – – like you would Netflix or Hulu, etc. Link.
posted by kythuen at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2016

doesnt fox sports go have apple tv app?
posted by specialk420 at 9:42 PM on August 25, 2016

Lifehacker article about this today.

But as someone in a similar boat I can tell you that the only way to have reliable access to whatever game you want is cable: DirectTV, Comcast, TimeWarner, whatever). I finally got SlingTV so I can get a *few* more games, but it's not really that great.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:11 PM on August 25, 2016

Something out of left field: if you are okay to start watching the games after they've finished, you can get NFL Game Pass for $100/year. The Sunday afternoon games are available by 8 PM ET and the night games are available after the game is over.

If you're comfortable with spoofing your location using a VPN, nearly all games on GamePass are live for viewers in the UK (except for one or two Sunday afternoon games each week blacked out by Sky Sports).

When the Packers are blacked out here, I tend to watch RedZone which seems pretty keen on jumping to big teams whenever something interesting is happening -- or when nothing interesting is happening elsewhere.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 3:35 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

First Row Sports has all NFL games.

Disclaimer: I haven't used it for a few years and can't vouch for its legality. I believe it's run from the UK and do recall some sketchy advertising (i.e. pop-ups with fake "close buttons" that are actually links to unsavoury sites etc but easy enough to avoid if you're vigilant) which turned my intended virtue (saving $ by not getting ST) into accusations from my wife when she saw said sites in my browsing history.
posted by raider at 9:48 AM on August 28, 2016

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