Tablo Blog

How to Watch NFL Football as a Cord Cutter in 2018

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

NFL football is (almost) back, baby!

America's favorite sport is ready once again to keep you glued to your TV on Sunday and Monday (and Thursday, if you're into that sort of thing) — provided, of course, that you know how to tune in as a cord cutter.

Happily, the NFL is one of the easiest sports leagues in the world to watch without cable.

In fact, you don't even need one of those fancy cable-like streaming services to catch the large majority of the NFL's regular-season and postseason action.

That's because NFL games are most often broadcast on Over-the-Air networks, which means you can watch them for free with a simple antenna.


What Networks Do I Need to Watch NFL Football?

Most NFL football games are broadcast live on your local network affiliate.

You can catch the Sunday day games on CBS and FOX, and Sunday Night Football broadcasts can be found on NBC. (For Canadians, all Sunday games air on CTV.)

This is big news for cord cutters, because (as we'll explain in a moment) you can watch all these channels for free without cable.

Monday Night Football currently airs on ESPN which is not available Over-the-Air.

The NFL's other recurring weekday broadcast - Thursday Night Football - will air on both FOX and the NFL Network this coming season.

Most Thursday games will be broadcast simultaneously on both channels, but two games will be NFL Network exclusives.

The NFL Network will also broadcast an international game this year (Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London) and a couple of Saturday double-headers.

Once the regular season wraps up, CBS and FOX will air your postseason games, and Super Bowl rights are with CBS this year.

Yep, more Over-the-Air channels — so let's talk about that!


Watching NFL Games Free with an Antenna

The best way to watch the NFL without cable is via free Over-the-Air antenna TV.

Over-the-Air TV is exactly what it sounds like: it's live TV that is broadcast for free by your local network affiliate, and it can be received with a simple TV antenna connected to your television. No cable or cable logins are required.

There's a very good chance that CBS, FOX, NBC and more affiliate stations have broadcast towers in your region. Check out this tool to find out what channels you can get in your area.

tablo channel locator


If you want to be able to pause, rewind, or record the game you’re watching via an antenna, you can also opt to use an OTA DVR like Tablo.

OTA DVRs allow you to time-shift your free antenna TV, stream it to multiple devices inside and outside your home without having to run cabling, and more.


Watching NFL Games via Online Streaming

Your OTA TV antenna will get you most regular-season NFL games, all postseason games, and the Super Bowl for free.

But it's also worth mentioning that you can snag ESPN (Monday Night Football) and NFL Network (select exclusive games) by subscribing to a ’skinny bundle‘ or live TV streaming service.

There are a lot of options and packages to choose from, so we recommend you check out our extensive coverage over at for more details.

It’s worth noting however that there are some restrictions on streaming NFL games via skinny bundle services. Local feeds of major networks on these services are available only in select markets, and there may be other fine print, such as blackouts on mobile phones or the inability to record them for later viewing.


Gear Up for Watching the NFL as a Cord Cutter

And remember, cord cutting means you can choose the solution (or solutions) that work best for your needs and watch them all on the same device, like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV.  

Accessing both a skinny bundle and OTA TV on a streaming device is as simple as signing up for a streaming service and grabbing an OTA DVR like Tablo to make your antenna TV content streamable.

Combining a streaming service with Over-the-Air TV in this way will maximize the flexibility of your NFL viewing as a cord cutter.


So, there you have it, folks!

By the time the NFL season kicks off on September 6, you should be more than ready to catch all of the action without paying for cable. Just grab your Over-the-Air antenna, streaming device, OTA DVR (optional) and set them up before the action starts!


Ville Salminen is Editor-in-Chief of, a blog dedicated to exploring the world of cord cutting, including streaming solutions and free Over-the-Air TV.




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