How to Watch the NFL Without Cable in 2021: Cut Cords & Go Online

Fergus O'Sullivan
By Fergus O'Sullivan (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2019-09-10T07:48:19+00:00

It can’t have escaped your notice that football season has started. Over the next 17 or so weeks you’ll be able to watch all the NFL you can handle, multiple times per week. That is, provided you’re hooked up to a cable channel. However, there are plenty of web-based alternatives to watch the NFL without cable, and we’re going to look at the best ones in this article.

After all, why pay a cable company big bucks to watch the NFL — plus whatever other nonsense they stick into your bloated, overpriced package — if you can subscribe to something online with a bit more precision, and for a lot less money as well? The media landscape is all about streaming these days, and sports have followed. Read our article on how to watch Wimbledon for another example.

Before we get into the how of it all, do note that the Super Bowl is a different kettle of fish compared to regular NFL games. For that, please check out our article on how to watch the Super Bowl.

How to Watch the NFL Online with the NFL Game Pass

The most comprehensive solution to watch all NFL games is with the NFL Game Pass. It comes in two flavors, Pro and Essential. Pro is the one you most likely want as it allows you access to live stream all games plus a whole bunch of extras, while Essential only gets you highlights and extras. It seems to mostly exist for cable subscribers that want some extra oomph.

The Game Pass costs $100 for people logging in from a U.S. IP address and comes with a seven-day trial so you can test it out. We really like the Game Pass as an option, because a hundred bucks isn’t all that much compared to what a cable subscription costs, and you get live games, replays, the lot. 

However, if you’re not in the States, things get a bit more expensive. The Game Pass also comes in an international version that gives you the same games and extras, but costs $200 instead of $100, though people in Europe get the price quoted in euros. The Essential packet comes in at a little less than half that.

We checked several countries offering using a virtual private network — a program that can spoof your location to anywhere in the world — and none of them drop below that $200 mark. 

This means you have one of two options if you’re reading this from outside the U.S.: you can pay $200 for the Game Pass to watch all the games your American counterparts are watching for $100, or you can get a VPN of your own. That way you can pay just $100 like the Yanks do. 

We used ExpressVPN and got into the Game Pass site with ease, once again proving it’s the best VPN out there. It’s the most expensive option out there at $100, but in the end you’d be paying the same as you would with the International Game Pass, and also have the use of a great VPN for a year. 

For example, you can easily watch whatever show you want via Netflix, easily circumventing that site’s VPN ban, or watch the CW shows from outside the States for free. A VPN opens up a world of entertainment while also keeping you safe and we recommend everybody have one. Read our ExpressVPN review for more details.

How to Watch the NFL Online with FuboTV

Another option to watch the NFL for cord cutters is fuboTV, a streaming service that offers a ton of different channels, including ones where you can catch the NFL. You can use NBC to watch Sunday Night Football, for example, while Fox has Thursday Night Football. FuboTV isn’t cheap at $55 per month, though that does give you access to hundreds of channels around the world. 

However, much like with any streaming service, there are some geoblocks in place, meaning you can’t watch everything from everywhere. The U.S. version of the site has the biggest offering, including premium TV channels, while soccer can be found on the European and Latin American versions via, say, a Mexican IP address.

This is where our old friend ExpressVPN comes around again. FuboTV positively welcomes VPN use and we had no trouble getting into different versions of the site using it. FuboTV comes with a seven-day trial, so we recommend you check it out if watching sports on the cheap sounds good to you.

How to Watch the NFL Online with DAZN

A more sports-oriented competitor of fuboTV is DAZN and it streams NFL games directly, but only in the U.S. We like it because it’s pretty cheap, costing $20 per month or $99 per year, but it’s only available in a handful of countries. Check out our guide on how to watch DAZN for more info on this service.

However, as DAZN only has NFL games for viewers in the U.S., you’re going to need to use ExpressVPN to get in. If you’re in the U.S. but want to watch international sports, checkout our guides on how to get a Brazilian IP address and German IP address.

How to Watch the NFL Online with Hulu

Much like fuboTV, streaming stalwart Hulu also offers cable channels like NBC and Fox you can use to watch NFL games. It’s called Hulu + Live TV and isn’t cheap at $45 per month. The cost is offset by the fact that you not only get access to a lot of channels, but also Hulu’s massive streaming library, which we’ve covered in our guides to watching, among others, The Handmaid’s Tale and Archer.

Again, though, Hulu +Live TV only works if you’re logging in from the U.S., so you’ll want to use one of our best VPN for Hulu if you’re not in the States but it sounds like the option for you. We also have a guide on how to watch Hulu on your TV if big screens are more your speed.

How to Watch the NFL Online for Free

Lastly, we’d like to rank all the options you have for watching the NFL for free. Do note, though, that none of these options are exactly legal, so you’ll need to have a VPN engaged for using them safely, as well as one of the best antivirus solutions so nothing unwanted hitches a ride on your connection. 

The best place to find illegal streams of NFL games is on Reddit. In the past, r/nflstreams was a good resource for finding them and a quick look shows that’s the case now, too. The usual warnings apply, however, so please be careful.

Another option is to use Kodi. This media platform has all kinds of interesting repositories where you can watch NFL games past and present. Check out our guide to the best Kodi add-ons for sports to find the best options. If you’re unfamiliar with Kodi, check out our full Kodi guide to get started using this impressive platform.

Final Thoughts

American football is the most popular sport in the U.S., which explains why so much of it is hidden away in expensive cable packages. We hope the above suggestions help you watch the NFL for at least less money than you’d otherwise spend, and maybe even from abroad by using ExpressVPN.

Please let us know if we’ve left out your favorite way of watching the NFL without cable by leaving a comment below this article. Other than that, we wish you a great football season and much viewing pleasure. Thank you for reading.