How to Watch Live NFL Games In 2016-2017

There is a laundry list of things that the NFL does wrong. Then, there is one thing the NFL does better than any other sports league: broadcasting rights, which essentially limit who can show footage of an event on the platform designated in the contract. This realization became even more noticeable after the positively lagging coverage NBC did for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last month.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he wants the league to have a "unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms," and a series of insane revenue-generating tri-cast broadcasting rights contracts is exactly what the NFL has now. The NFL wants to get to more people. With this business strategy, the league is doing just that. The best part is that it will serve a fan base with a growing need for immediacy and flexibility and also a society full of more and more cable cord cutters.

Without further ado, this is how you can watch NFL games and coverage this upcoming season with or without a cable subscription:



Option for All Games (especially cord cutters on Monday nights) - Patron your favorite local sports bar. Y'all know to find me at Sneakers or Rosie O'Grady's in Ferndale, Ye Olde Saloon in Royal Oak, The Detroiter in Detroit, or the sauna in my parents' house in Troy. When in doubt, it is Sneakers.

Thursday Night Football

  • TV Broadcast - NBC/CBS. Bust out those bunny ears because you can get the national broadcasted Thursday night game on your basic TV channels that do not require a cable subscription. The two stations together are paying $450 million per year for the next two years for the rights to air five live television broadcasts each.
  • Cable Broadcast - NFL Network. Self-explanatory.
  • Digital Broadcast - Twitter. As the league announced, "the NFL and Twitter will provide free, live streaming video of Thursday Night Football without authentication to the over 800 Million registered and non-registered users worldwide on the Twitter platform on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs." YAASSS. Seriously, fans just need to create a Twitter account, sign in, and watch the game live each week. One of the coolest parts is that Twitter reportedly paid only about $10 million to stream ten TNF games. One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

Sunday Games

  • TV Broadcast - Regional CBS/Fox affiliate. Cable or no cable, so long as you have a TV and a $20 antennae, you are golden. 
  • Cable Broadcast - DirectTV's NFL Sunday Ticket. This provides access to every out-of-market game each week.
  • Digital Broadcast - DirectTV's NFL Sunday Ticket. Did you know that you can get NFL Sunday Ticket without being a DirectTV subscriber? DirectTV owns both the cable and digital broadcasting rights and offers special standalone streaming packages for almost everyone's viewing pleasure! If you live in an area where DirectTV is not offered or an abode where you cannot put up a satellite dish, you can get NFL Sunday Ticket without buying a DirectTV subscription. To check eligibility, click here, & scope out the different packages available below. Additionally, students can receive a special price ($24.99/month for 4 months)! To check student eligibility, click here.


Sunday Night Football

  • TV Broadcast - NBC. Again, no cable cord necessary. After 2005, NBC took over the Sunday Night Football broadcasting rights from ESPN when ESPN took over the Monday Night Football broadcasting rights from ABC.
  • Cable Broadcast - N/A.
  • Digital Broadcast - NBC's SNF All Access. NBC's rights include digital broadcasting rights as well, but fans must login with a cable subscription username and password to live stream the game. Click here for the SNF All Access home page for NBC Sports.

Monday Night Football

  • TV Broadcast - N/A.
  • Cable Broadcast - ESPN. John Skipper, ESPN's president, has said, "We do not have a more important deal than the NFL." Monday Night Football is the highest rated show on cable television, and the only way to watch it is on ESPN with a cable subscription. The company pays A LOT to hold exclusive MNF broadcasting rights. Cable customers see it (and feel it) with the hefty cable subscription rates. This is the perfect opportunity to make a friend with cable to watch it with or go to a bar with the requisite cable subscription.
  • Digital Broadcast - Watch ESPN app. Streaming MNF requires an ESPN subscription (i.e., having a legitimate a username and password combination).

When You Want More But Do Not Want To Buy NFL Network

The launch of the NFL on Discover will provide a key touch point to follow storylines throughout the week, and the expansion of Live Stories will provide fans with a unique perspective of the excitement in and around our stadiums at every game all season-long
— Blake Stuchin, Director, Digital Media Business Development for the NFL
  • Digital - Snapchat. Snapchat users will have access to an entire NFL Discover channel as well as Snapchat Live Stories. Notably, the league is the first professional sports league to have its own channel in order to have a daily presence in one of the quickest growing digital platforms its fans (and maybe future fans) use. The Discover channel will feature hot topics, inside access videos, and content on headlines while the Live Stories will feature fan-submitted photos and additional inside access content to bring viewers into the experience.
  • Digital - Periscope. As part of its deal with Twitter, the NFL announced that fans can get pre-game TNF broadcasts on periscope from their favorite teams and players to give us more digital content than any other sports league out there.