EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 13: The NFL shield is painted in gold and black after a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The new color scheme is to commemorate this years’ Super Bowl witch will be the 50th edition. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

We’ve already completed Week 1 of the NFL season and we’re in a new world as far as streaming games online is concerned. For the first time, the NFL will have three regular season games available online for free. One will be an exclusive to Yahoo, the other two will be available through CBSSports.com. Let’s explain how we got here.

In the current contract with CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC, all of the partners have the right to stream games to computers and tablets. DirecTV has rights to stream Sunday afternoon games to all devices. Verizon has rights to mobiles. So with all of the ways one can stream, there are still restrictions. Let’s try to go through them without confusing you. We won’t give you a test at the end.


As mentioned, CBS will stream two regular season games for the first time and will make them available free to everyone. You won’t have to authenticate by using your cable or satellite provider login. You’ll be able to go to CBSSports.com or set top boxes such as Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Xbox.

You won’t be able to get the games on mobiles, but the fact that you’ll be able to watch them either on a computer, tablet or Connected TV device is better than last year when CBS did not stream any games at all.

CBS will stream the New York Jets-Miami Dolphins game in London on October 4 at 9:30 a.m. ET. It will also put its Thanksgiving Day game between Carolina and Dallas at 4:30 p.m. ET online as well.

There is an outside chance that CBS could make these games also available on its All Access tablet app which streams participating local affiliates, but as of now, NFL games are not available there. CBS CEO Les Moonves says he hopes that will happen sooner than later:

“As you can see, the NFL is doing more and more online. They are experimenting more and more. We are in constant conversation with them,” Moonves said. “They’re looking for an answer for their digital needs. And they’re exploring along with us. We are guardedly optimistic. We think that before too long we will have the NFL there, which [would be] a game changer.”

Stay tuned as we’ll update you on whether the NFL would be available on CBS All Access.

As for CBS’ Thursday Night Football schedule, that is available on tablets on the NFL Mobile app through NFL Network. You do need your cable and satellite login to watch that package.

For the postseason, CBS will stream all of its AFC playoff games, one Wild Card, two Divisional games, the AFC Championship and Super Bowl 50 on CBSSports.com on computers and tablets. Just like for the two regular season games, authentication is not required.

A side note, you’ll be able to watch all of the Super Bowl 50 ads live online with the actual game simulcast as CBS is selling both the TV and online experience together, a first for the Big Game.


The Worldwide Leader has been in the forefront of online streaming through ESPN3 and later the WatchESPN app. Monday Night Football has been available online for most of the decade. As Disney makes agreements with more providers, it has expanded the reach of WatchESPN to various major companies such as Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner and others.

The entire Monday Night Football schedule as well as its Wild Card playoff game and the Pro Bowl are available on WatchESPN via computers, tablets, Apple TV, Roku and Xbox, but you will need a cable or satellite login to watch.


Fox is streaming in-market games on Fox Sports Go. So whatever game is airing on your local Fox station, that is the game you’ll get online. Once again, the NFL game is only available on your desktop or laptop computer or on the FSGo tablet app. Unlike CBS, you WILL need your cable or satellite login to watch these games. Fox is part of the TV Everywhere initiative with cable so if you don’t have cable and watch your local station through the old school antenna or rabbit ears, you’re out of luck.

Fox will put all of its NFC postseason games online, one Wild Card game, one Divisional playoff and the NFC Championship on Fox Sports Go. When it had Super Bowl XLVIII, it opened Fox Sports Go to everyone, but do not expect that for any of the playoff games this season.


NBC was the first major TV partner to puts its NFL games online first free to all on NBCSports.com for computers and tablets. Then as it developed its NBC Sports Live Extra app, it began to require cable and satellite authentication for SNF last year. It did allow Super Bowl XLIX to be available to all back in February, but as for the rest of its schedule, authentication was required.

That is the case again this season. You will need your cable or satellite login for the entire Sunday Night Football schedule including its Thanksgiving Night game between Chicago and Green Bay as well as its Wild Card and Divisional Playoff games.


For the first time, the NFL will have one game available online and it will be free to all. The Buffalo-Jacksonville game in London on October 25 at 9:30 a.m. ET will be streamed globally. There will not be any restrictions. Yahoo will make the game available on Yahoo.com, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Screen and Tumblr. This game will not be on DirecTV or Verizon. Yahoo has exclusive rights to the game meaning it can stream the game on desktop computers, mobiles, tablets, Connected TV’s and set top boxes including Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.

In the home markets of Buffalo and Jacksonville, the game will be aired on the local CBS affiliate.

This is an online experiment that could lead to a package of games sold to Yahoo or another online company such as Apple or Google. The NFL went with Yahoo due to its infrastructure and it’s hoping that the demand won’t crash the company’s worldwide servers.

We’ll see how this game does. The NFL purposely chose this game to be the guinea pig for online streaming to determine how hungry fans are to watch their content.


Thanks to the purchase of DirecTV by AT&T, you don’t need a satellite dish to gain access to NFL Sunday Ticket. There are various packages for college students and those who live in apartments or condos and we’ve detailed them here.

DirecTV has the rights to stream CBS’ and Fox’s out-of-market games to computers, mobiles and tablets. The satellite provider does stream to various Connected TV and set top devices, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Sony PS4, Roku and Chromecast, but not Apple TV.

As for the game in your market, you can watch it through Fox Sports Go, but not through CBS just yet.


Verizon has mobile rights to all CBS, Fox, ESPN and NBC games. It used to charge extra for its mobile subscribers to watch NFL games, but now that is open to all. If you’re a Verizon customer, you can watch games on the NFL Mobile app on Android, iOS or Windows smartphones.

Verizon has the mobile rights through 2017 and will allow its subscribers to watch all regular season and postseason games as well as NFL Network programming. NFL RedZone will be available at an extra $1.99 a month.

So NFL games are available online, but not all are free to all. We’ll see how successful the CBS and Yahoo experiments are to determine if there will be more free online games down the line.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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