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2019 Cord Cutter’s Guide for Watching Football Without Cable

We hope you enjoy the following guest post from Chris Brantner, one of the cord cutting experts behind

While it used to be necessary to have cable to watch football and other popular sports, these days, it’s just a matter of utilizing an antenna and streaming services to get the same games for less money.


Of course, if you’re brand new to the world of cord-cutting there are some things you should know. The following tips will help you make a smooth transition from cable to cord-cutting, so you’re all set when it comes time to watch NCAA football and NFL games this season.

Keep reading to find out what you need to do to watch football without cable.


1. Get an Antenna

antennas direct clearstream

If you don’t have cable, a TV antenna will allow you to watch plenty of programs including football for free. You’ll be able to pick up live Over-the-Air networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Since many of these channels air football throughout the week, it’s a great way to pick up a good chunk of the season without breaking the bank.

Local channels also air many of the playoff games and the Super Bowl, so an antenna is an easy way to watch the most important games of the season.


2. Install a Tablo DVR to Rewind, Pause, Record, & Skip Commercials

tablo nfl roku

If you’re a sports fan in general, you might want to consider adding a Tablo DVR to your entertainment arsenal. This device will give you many of the same features that you would have with a traditional, cable DVR setup to increase your viewing pleasure.

One cool thing that Tablo does that most others don’t is that it lets you live stream using your computer, mobile devices, or even through a streaming player. As long as you have an internet connection you can stream from just about anywhere. Your Tablo connects to the internet, as well, which allows you to stream the channels you get with your antenna live.

You’ll also have full on-demand access to the games you’ve recorded and the ability to skip commercials, as well.


3. Add a Streaming Service

sling tv football

Using a combination of your antenna and Tablo you’ll get most of the NFL season, so the need for a streaming service really depends on how much of the season you want to see.

College football is a bit more reliant on pay-TV channels. If you want to see Monday Night Football and more college games and you don’t have cable, you’ll need to consider a cable replacement streaming service that includes ESPN.

There are a wide variety of services that offer live streaming of some of the most popular channels including ESPN at a price much cheaper than cable would cost.

The following services will all give you a chance to watch football all season long:

  • Hulu with Live TV
    Hulu with Live TV expands on the on-demand service they’ve offered for years by offering over 60 live channels. You’ll get channels like ESPN and ESPN2 nationwide. You also get full access to the WatchESPN app, giving you another way to watch football and other sports without cable. Streaming is possible on many devices. Hulu Live starts you off with a free weeklong trial.

  • Sling TV
    Sling TV starts you off with less channels – around 30+ for $25 and gives you more room for customization. You can add bundles of popular networks starting at around $5 per bundle. This gives you a chance to create a package you want at a fair price. ESPN is available in the Sling Orange package. Sling TV is the only service currently to offer ESPN3 through their interface. You can also watch with apps like WatchESPN. You can start a free trial for seven-days upon signup.

  • PlayStation Vue
    PlayStation Vue packages start at $50 per month and include ESPN in every package they offer. Plans start you off with 50+ channels and go from there. Add-on channels are also available. PS Vue also includes an on-demand library and a cloud-DVR, which is great for saving games you might otherwise miss. You don’t need a PlayStation console, as PS Vue streams with most devices including mobile devices and Roku. A free 5-day trial is available.

  • YouTube TV
    Another solid choice offering several ESPN networks, local channels, and over 70 other channels is YouTube TV. The big feature here is the cloud-DVR that comes with unlimited space. This would allow you to save shows on cable networks while you store local channel content on your Tablo. YouTube TV works on most devices. You can check out YouTube TV free for the first week.


Additional Options

NFL app

You do have a couple of other options that will allow you to live stream some football games over the season. You can get access to every single game on the NFL Mobile app, for example. The only downside here is that you can only watch on your mobile device. That said, if you don’t have access to a game otherwise, this will allow you to watch the game live.

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll also have access to a simulcast of most of the Thursday Night Football games this season. As long as you’re a Prime subscriber, you’ll be able to watch the game through your Amazon Video app. If you don’t have Prime access, a 30-day trial is available.


By switching from cable to Over-the-Air TV and streaming you’ll save money and you won’t have to miss a game to do it. It doesn’t get better than that!


Chris BrantnerChris Brantner is the expert behind Streaming Observer, where he covers all things related to the world of cord cutting. He has also served as a contributor for US News & World Report, TechHive, VICE, Houston Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune, and more. Follow him on Twitter @StreamingOb.



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