Cable-cutting football fans have viewing options

Antenna, streaming devices offer various services

SAN ANTONIO – Huddle up, cable-kicking football fanatics. It's time to tackle a dilemma: how to watch the big games without cable.

Cable is generally the simplest option for finding the slew of NFL and college games on various channels, but millions of people have ditched cable to cut their TV-viewing costs. 

"Tons and tons of people come to us asking how to watch the NFL online," said Chris Brantner, who runs a website called streamingobserver.com.

For Brantner's NFL guide, click here.

The good news, Brantner said, is you have lots of options. The trick is figuring out which service or combination of services delivers the games and teams of your choice.

First off, consider the antenna. Most NFL games and many college games air on the main networks, meaning your local channels. Depending on your location and the strength of your antenna, you'll be able to get all in-market Sunday games as well as most Thursday night football games, according to Brantner. Also, many weekend college games air on local stations. "You can get an antenna, hook it up to your TV and place it somewhere in your home high up, maybe in a window," Brantner said.  

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But what about the games that air on other channels such as ESPN?

That's where streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV or Chromecast come in.  

If you don't have a smart TV, the small devices can basically turn it into one. 

Next, you select the streaming service, such as YouTube TV,  AT&T Now and Hulu, that suits your needs.

"You can pay a monthly fee to these streaming networks, and you can get NFL Network, RedZone and some of these channels that you can't get with an antenna," Brantner said. 

No single option does it all, so you have to look at what networks you need and what services carry them.

In San Antonio, Sony Playstation Vue is the most complete for football coverage, according to Brantner. 

Sling is the cheapest with the football deals it's offering. With Sling, you can get ESPN for "Monday Night Football," the NFL Network and the NFL Redzone. But it does not get all local channels, so Brantner said it makes a good complement to an antenna. It's also a good option for watching many of the college football games.

Most streaming services offer seven-day free trials and no contracts. So, Brantner recommends giving a few a try to see what works best for you, even before you cut cable. 

Because there are no contracts, you can sign on for a few months and then cancel when the season is over. 

Something Amazon Prime members may not realize is they can stream almost all of the Thursday night football games this season, Brantner said.

Another option is to watch on your tablet or cellphone screen. With the NFL mobile app or the Yahoo Sports app, you can watch in-market games all season for free. Just be sure to connect to Wi-Fi, or you'll use a lot of data.


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