How to watch the Super Bowl without cable
If you’re among the one in four US households that have cut the cord on cable or satellite TV, and maybe dumped your TV set to boot, watching Super Bowl 51 at home this Sunday may require some creativity.
If you’re among the one in four US households that have cut the cord on cable or satellite TV, and maybe dumped your TV set to boot, watching Super Bowl 51 at home this Sunday may require a little initiative and creativity.
Fortunately, there are ways to watch the New England Patriots take on the NFC’s Atlanta Falcons — and to enjoy other NFL games next season — with only an Internet connection and a screen, whether on your TV, computer or mobile device.
Watching on Your TV
First, there’s the way America always used to watch the Super Bowl. By purchasing an indoor TV antenna, typically for between $15 and $30, you should be able to access major networks, as well as public broadcast channels. This year, the game’s on Fox, and it and CBS and NBC, which collectively share the rights to the Super Bowl through 2023, are readily available to almost all households. (If you live in a remote area, and have concerns about channel availability, search online for “DTV reception maps” and type your zip code into the FCC website to check which channels you can get, and at what signal strength.)
Like their peers around the world, fans in the United Kingdom (BBC, Sky Sports) and Canada (CTV) will have free access to this year’s big game.
If you already own an Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox One, Roku unit or similar product, you can do without the antenna altogether. Simply download Fox Sports Go from the app store to your device and send the picture to your TV.
Another TV-set strategy, albeit one that requires a little more effort, is to sign up for a free trial of streaming service, such as Sling TV or Playstation Vue, both of which carry Fox. However, if you watch the big game in part for its unique commercials, be aware that the streams may carry only generic ads. If you won’t watch enough of these streaming services to merit a longer commitment, cancel the service within the given time frame — ideally, after taking in the Super Bowl — and pay for only a month or less of service.
Watching on Your Device
You can also download the Fox Sports Go app and watch the game on any device with a built-in screen — mindful, of course, that a small screen may compromise the Super Bowl experience, especially if you plan to watch with anyone else.
Looking ahead to next year, and beyond, Fox’s peers offer similar options for NFL games. During the season, the CBS All Access app ($5.99 with limited commercials, or $9.99 with none) would allow you to watch at least four Sundays’ worth of action for the cost of its monthly dues. During the 2016 season, the NBC Sports apps is also compatible with many of the aforementioned devices, plus your laptop or desktop computer, but it requires a cable login after a free preview of the content. ESPN, the only other network routinely offering NFL coverage with it’s “Monday Night Football” production, requires either a login or a subscription-based streaming service such as Sling TV.
Short of borrowing a relative’s username or password or, worse, streaming illegally from a suspect website, there is one more way for Verizon customers to watch the Super Bowl, and all other professional football games, for free. The company offers its customers access to NFL Mobile, downloadable from the app store. (The app isn’t available at any price to non-Verizon customers.) However, unlike with most other streaming options, your picture can’t be transferred to the TV for display. (The NFL’s Game Pass app, meanwhile, only allows you to watch replayed games, after they have been completed.)
If minute-by-minute action is not what you’re looking for, consider Twitter and other social media, which are abuzz during Super Bowl coverage. You can count on them for comedic commentary, hastily-produced GIFs and NFL-licensed video highlights. There will also be YouTube and other video links to those infamous Super Bowl commercials as advertisers rush to deliver their messages on multiple mediums. Plus, you can take social platforms with you wherever you go, whether you watch the big game at your local bar or a friend’s house, which may be the most economical option of all. Their insurance policy will be put to the test, not yours.
This story originally appeared on ValuePenguin.