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​How to watch NFL football online this fall

You have more choices for your football-watching pleasure on the internet than ever, and that's a problem.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Will my Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl this year? Will the New England Patriots overcome Tom Brady's four game suspension? Will the Rams flourish in Los Angeles? Die-hard fans pay $49.99 a month for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket to find out. For cord-cutters, it's not so easy.

Sling TV NFL

NFL Football is only a click away this season.

Now, DirecTV has made it easier to get Sunday Ticket without paying for a DirecTV subscription, but there are still restrictions. In theory, DirecTV will sell you a Sunday Ticket streaming subscription for $49.99 a month -- if you can't get the DirecTV service, because you can't use a satellite dish. In practice, I'm told by friends they have been able to get Sunday Ticket even though they should be ineligible. When I tried, I was told I couldn't buy Sunday Ticket.

Maybe you can get a subscription, maybe you can't, but if you're a die-hard fan, it can't hurt to try. Students can get Sunday Ticket for a discounted price of $24.99 a month.

Besides your satellite-equipped TV, you can watch Sunday Ticket on Xbox, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Roku, Amazon Fire, Android, iPhone, Windows phone, Windows PC, and Mac.

Another pure football subscription option, if you can stand to wait, is NFL GamePass. For $99.99 a season, you can watch all NFL games... the day after they're played. To sweeten the offer, GamePass includes live radio broadcasts for all the games. This isn't for me, but if you work during gametime, this might be just what you need.

With GamePass, you'll need an Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iPhone, Android, or a Windows PC to watch games.

The cheapest of all options, of course, is to get an antenna. Free over-the-air TV still carries a lot of the games. Unfortunately, this only gives you the local games or the big-name games of the week. So, for example, in Asheville, NC, I'll be able to watch almost all the Carolina Panther games with my HD Stacker TV Antenna and a Channel Master Titan 2 High Gain Preamp. But, as good as that gear is, it still can't get me Dallas Cowboys games.

Another relatively cheap way to watch pro football, if you have a Verizon Wireless smartphone, is to use Verizon's NFL Mobile app on your Android smartphone or iPhone. With it, you can watch live regular season games, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl. But you can't use Google's Chromecast to cast the game to a bigger screen.

Several online broadcasting services, such as PlayStation Vue and Sling TV, now carry networks with NFL games.

Cable cord cutters, take heart: The best streaming devices

Despite the name, you no longer need a PlayStation to watch PlayStation Vue. There are several PlayStation Vue viewing plans. All packages include ESPN, NBC Sports, and "TV Everywhere" credentials for WatchESPN, NBCSN, and Fox Sports Go. The base package, Access Slim Plan, costs $29.95 a month.

On PlayStation Vue's Core ($34.99 a month) and Elite ($44.99 a month) plans, you can also watch the NFL Network. This includes its Thursday night games. With these plans, you can also sign up for NFL RedZone as an add-on for $39.99 for the regular season. NFL RedZone channel brings fans all the touchdown and big moments from every game.

You should also know, before signing up, that in many major markets, all the Vue packages are $10 more due to inclusion of local channels. If you're already using an antenna, you should look closely at exactly what you're getting for your money.

You can watch Vue broadcasts on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Amazon Fire, and Roku. After signing up, you'll also be able to watch it on iPhone, Android, and Chromecast.

Sling TV makes watching NFL games a little complicated. It currently has two main packages: Sling TV Orange ($20 a month) and Sling TV Blue ($25 a month). Orange includes ESPN 1, and ESPN 2. Blue has FOX, FS1, FS2, NBC, NBCSN, and the NFL Network. You can get them both, a must for a football fan, for $40 a month. NFL Red Zone is also available, but you need to subscribe to the Sling Blue "Sports Extra" package for $5 per month.

Sling TV supports Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One, iPhons, Android, Windows, and Mac. It can also be watched on a variety of other platforms.

The weirdest NFL offering of all this season is Twitter. Yes, 140-character Twitter is now into sports streaming. Don't ask me why.

Here's how it will work. Twitter will stream 10 of CBS and NBC's Thursday night games. Except, Twitter won't show this season's first NFL game, the return SuperBowl match between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, and it won't show the Thanksgiving football games.

How the heck will this work? Will they describe the game with 140-character play by play? No. Based on what Twitter did with Wimbledon, there will be a dedicated Twitter account. You then watch it on your web browser, with tweets about the game streaming underneath the game.

You'll be able to watch this on Android, iPhone, and any PC.

Your final streaming option this season is to watch NBC's Sunday night games on Yahoo Sports. It should be watchable with any device that can handle a web browser, but Twitter hasn't announced exactly what platforms it will support.

To sum it all up, it's possible to watch most NFL games online, but it's complicated. There's no simple, single way to watch most games.

In addition, CBS was unable to get the rights to stream Sunday NFL games. For those, you'll still need Sunday Ticket, an antenna, or, of course, a cable or satellite subscription. For a complete list of what networks are broadcasting which games, see the 506Sports NFL site. For more information on the NFL on the net, see CutCableToday's NFL page.

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