NFL shield EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JANUARY 08: A detail of the official National Football League NFL logo is seen painted on the turf as the New York Giants host the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With networks increasingly dependent on cable or satellite logins for streaming or even going to a subscription model like CBS, it’s difficult to watch sports for free. Despite the 4,500 hours of Olympic coverage from NBC, you still had to use your cable or satellite provider login to watch. And with the NFL season approaching in just a mere few weeks, you might be wondering how you might be able to watch games online without having to go the extra mile and reach into your pocket.

Let’s take a look at a couple of options for this season:


For the first time, the NFL has awarded a regular season package of games to an online company. This follows the one-game experiment on Yahoo last season. Twitter won the rights over Facebook to stream Thursday Night Football. It’s important to note that Twitter will stream the 10 games that CBS and NBC will air on their networks this season. The other eight that will air on NFL Network will only be streamed via the NFL’s platforms and that will require authentication.

The key here is that you won’t have to pay for Twitter’s streams and even if you don’t tweet nor ever plan to, you can still watch without having to log in.  Twitter will allow users to watch and tweet at the same time, but even if you don’t want to tweet, you can go full-screen to watch.

There are reports that Twitter could be close to forging an agreement with Apple TV to stream Thursday Night Football on that platform allowing for a full-screen TV experience and that would be a coup for Apple and it would be one exclusive sports property that Chomecast, PlayStation Vue, Roku and Xbox would not be able to offer. This is something we’ll keep our eyes on.

But Twitter will have one feather in its cap with Thursday Night Football and you will not have to pay or authenticate to watch online.


Customers of Verizon Wireless can watch NFL games on the NFL Mobile app whether its preseason, regular season in-market Sunday afternoon, primetime and all postseason games through NFL Mobile. In addition, they have access to NFL RedZone, and NFL Network is also available on the app. There is no extra charge to watch the games. All of the games from the NFL’s TV partners, CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and NFL Network, are available and it’s the only place that has them.

Verizon paid a pretty penny to obtain the mobile rights and its customers have a nice way to do some one-stop shopping to see the games online. The only drawback is that it’s only available through Verizon Wireless, so if you’re a customer of another mobile provider, you can’t watch all of the games on the NFL Mobile app, although you can watch NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and Thursday Night Football on your tablet, but you do have to use your cable or satellite log-in.

So there are a couple of options to watch the NFL online for free. Later, we’ll do our annual NFL streaming guide which will provide all of your options for watching games online.

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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