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The cord-cutter’s guide to legally watching the NFL

You don’t need a satellite dish or cable to get your NFL fix.

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Remember what it used to be like to try and watch NFL games online? I do. Dig through a thread somewhere, find a questionable streaming service, close about a dozen popups with questionable content and watch a grainy feed of the game in box that was maybe about four inches wide. It’s not like that anymore. There’s a veritable buffet of options for cord cutters or anyone else who would rather watch pro football games on a streaming device, a laptop, phone, table, etc.

It’s easier than ever, and in the service of our fellow fans, here’s a rundown of all the options available to you.

Typically, it will cost about $40-50 per month to sign up for a service that lets you watch NFL games online. But depending on how many cords you’ve actually cut, you can find options if, say, you just want one particular channel.

For the second year in a row Thursday night games, some of them, will be back on Amazon, Prime even though Fox bought the broadcast rights.

The other prime-time games on Sunday and Monday nights can also be streamed live on the internet with subscriptions to services like WatchESPN, NBC Sports Live Extra, Fox Sports Go, or CBS All-Access. Those require cable subscriptions, but a growing number of legal streaming services — from online powers like Hulu, YouTube, and even PlayStation — will provide more options for NFL fanatics then ever before.

For fans who want to watch their favorite out-of-market teams on Sundays, the options can still be thin, though. DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket has been the gateway on Sunday afternoons and that’s still mostly the case in 2018. That’s available online, but it’s got some limitations to who can sign up for it.

Here are the many different ways NFL fans can tune into games without cable television:

You can watch some games on your phone this season

Last year, Verizon and the NFL announced a five-year, $2.5 billion deal to stream games on mobile devices. The best news for NFL fans here is that unlike Verizon’s past deal with the NFL, this one is NOT limited to Verizon subscribers. Anyone with any cell phone carrier can do it now.

Games can be streamed through the Yahoo! Sports app (Yahoo! is owned by Verizon).

The deal covers in-market games and national broadcasts. That means that out-of-market games on Sundays will not be available through the deal. DirecTV still has the rights to those through its Sunday Ticket package.

This is only for your phone or tablet. The service disables mirroring to your TV.

Here’s the official page with more info.

Yes, NFL Sunday Ticket is available online!

The DirecTV package is the Holy Grail of NFL viewing. It’s got everything, all the games and the RedZone channel.

It’s now, sort of, available online, and can be purchased as a streaming service that runs on just about anything. That includes iOS and Android devices, Windows PCs, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and game consoles like Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.

There’s a catch. It’s not available to everybody. You have to live in a multidwelling unit (apartments, condos, etc.), select areas in select cities, a residence unable to receive the satellite service, or be a college student.

Packages depend on which screens and how many you want to watch it on. The basic package for your laptop, tablet, and phone, is $199 (or four payments of $49.99). You can spend as much as $359 to get it on every dang screen you own.

And, there is a discount pricing for students, putting the package at $99.

You can watch (some) NFL with streaming services

There’s always the ol’ antenna to get the local broadcast networks — CBS and FOX — that have the Sunday afternoon games, as well as NBC for Sunday nights. But that might not be an option for everyone.

A number of digital content providers rolled out live TV packages this year, meaning you can get your local broadcast networks via one of those services. However, there are limitations to what’s available

PlayStation Vue: Your chances at getting a network that shows NFL games depends on your location, but no matter where you are Vue users can purchase NFL RedZone with an add-on package for $10 per month. Basic packages start at $40 per month.

Sling TV: This service will allow fans access to games, but it requires a mix of packages to get all the services.

With the Orange package, $25/month, you can get ESPN, which includes Monday Night Football. With the Blue package, $25/month, you can get FOX, NBC, and NFL Network. Your best bet, if you’re looking to go all-in on a single streaming service, is to get the combo package, which combines Orange and Blue for $40/month.

If you want NFL RedZone, get the Sports Extra add-on for $10 per month.

DirecTV Now: There are more than 100 channels available through DirecTV’s streaming service, including a few networks that show nationally broadcasted NFL games. The basic package, $40/month, includes the CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN. You can get NFL Network with a level up package, $55/month. There were reports last year that Red Zone was coming, but it has yet to be added.

Hulu Live Package: Hulu’s live package provides live NFL broadcasts from NBC, FOX, CBS, and ESPN for $40 per month. It is important to note that the live broadcasts from the networks are not available everywhere, so check availability before you subscribe. NFL Network is not available.

YouTube TV: YouTube TV offers 40 live channels, giving viewers the chance to cut the cord and stream all three networks that offer NFL coverage. For $40/month, subscribers get CBS, FOX, and ESPN along with other sports channels like ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports, the SEC Network, the Big Ten Network, and CBS Sports. No NFL Network or Red Zone. Channel availability does depend on your location. The streaming service will give you access to games nationally broadcast on FOX, CBS and NBC. The service costs $45 per month. It does not include ESPN (and any other Disney-owned network), but it does carry NFL Network and RedZone.

CBS All Access: The Eye network is the most limited of all options from the list of live streaming services, but if you decide to go with one of those services, you have another option to get CBS via the network’s own streaming service. It starts at $5.99 per month, and there are some limits to availability.

Additionally, an over-the-air digital antenna will provide the bulk of Sunday’s games on FOX and CBS, and those typically cost less than $20 (they also provide access to channels you’ve never seen before and LOTS of Magnum P.I. reruns).

Where can you get NFL RedZone online?

This needle’s a little harder to thread, but there are some options. There’s the DirecTV online Sunday Ticket service, if you qualify. If you’re a Verizon customer, it’s available for a pretty good rate of just $1.99 per month.

Two of the streaming services listed above offer RedZone: SlingTV, and PlayStation Vue.

Season opener (Week 1)

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles — 8:30 p.m. ET — NBC Sports Live Extra

Thursday Night Football on Amazon

Watch NFL Network: 13 games (NFL network is available through several of the streaming options listed above) — Weeks 2-11, 13-15

Amazon Prime: 10 games — Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 11, 13, 14, 15

Week 16 Thursday doubleheader

Dec. 25 falls on a Monday this year, which means Roger Goodell is climbing down your chimney with two games instead of just one.

Week 16: Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens — 4:30 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Live Extra: One game

Week 16: Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers — 8:30 p.m. ET

Sunday Night Football

NBC Sports Live Extra: 15 games

Monday Night Football

WatchESPN: 15 games, Weeks 1-15

A cable subscription is required to use the WatchESPN app. But ESPN is available on most of the streaming packages listed above, so that’s another option for watching MNF.

Watch reruns with NFL Game Pass

For $99.99, NFL Game Pass won’t give you any live coverage after preseason, but will provide full replays of every NFL game. It also includes coaches’ film angles and condensed replays of games that remove the lag between snaps and allow you to watch a game from begin to end in about 30 minutes.

The NFL is more accessible than ever, and watching games in 2018 will be easy and relatively inexpensive. With several options at hand, there’s no reason why Thursday and Sunday and Monday can’t be dedicated to the gridiron.