NFL shield

Since 2008 when NBC began streaming Sunday Night Football, the NFL TV partners have taken baby steps when it has come to online viewing of pro football games. But slowly, but surely, the networks have gotten on board with live streaming of NFL games. It’s taken a while, but now, all of the networks, that’s right, ALL networks including CBS have plans to stream NFL games online this season. Let’s take a look at the NFL TV partners and their plans for streaming games online this season in The League Where They Play for Pay.

First thing first. The networks all have rights to stream games on computers (desktop and laptops) as well as on tablets. They do not have rights to stream games on mobile phones. Those rights belong to Verizon. This year, connected TV’s like Apple TV and Roku will have streaming of games through ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports apps.




For years, CBS was the lone holdout of all of the networks in streaming games online. That was until 2016. CBS will stream NFL games this season on and its CBS tablet app. It will stream in-market Sunday afternoon games and the five Thursday Night Football games that will air on the CBS Television Network. Now before you start jumping up and down celebrating that CBS has finally joined the 21st Century in regards to streaming, there’s a catch.

You must be what CBS is calling “authenticated pay TV customers” to watch online meaning you have to login with your cable or satellite ID and password in order to enjoy the games.

You don’t have to be a member of CBS All Access who pays $5.99/month to watch the linear feed of their local affiliates to see the games online. A CBS spokesperson told Awful Announcing, the games will be available to “authenticated pay TV customers.” The only provider listed to watch the CBS app is Cablevision’s Optimum service. We’ll see if more are added when it comes time to watch NFL games later today.

The decision to stream the regular season games comes after CBS would only put its AFC playoff games and the Super Bowl online. It’s nice to see CBS join the NFL streaming party.



If you subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV or through its online packages marketed to college students, those who live in apartment buildings and condos and/or in areas that can’t access a satellite signal, then you’re in luck. You can watch all out-of-market games online whether it be on your mobile device, on your tablet or on your computer. Unlike in years past when you had to subscribe to the Sunday Ticket Max package, you can watch the games online whether you just subscribe to the basic package or to Max.

However, the critically-acclaimed Red Zone Channel hosted by the venerable Andrew Siciliano and the Fantasy Zone Channel fronted by Kay Adams are only on Sunday Ticket Max. But if you can live without either channel, and just want the games, then the basic package is for you.

This year,  Sunday Ticket is on Apple TV with a dedicated app.


Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football has been streamed via WatchESPN for years and that’s how you’ll access it again this year. Just like with CBS, you’ll have to authenticate through your cable or satellite provider. ESPN was the second NFL TV partner to stream its games following NBC’s lead. With ESPN streaming on both the WatchESPN and the ESPN app plus through its website, there are more than just one way to watch Monday Night Football online.

Monday Night Football can be accessed through connected TV’s as well.



Fox will stream the game that is shown in your area to the Fox Sports Go app. And yes, you are required to do that dreaded pay TV authentication thing to watch the NFC package online. Still, it’s better than when Fox didn’t stream as recently as three seasons ago.


Sunday Night Football

I can hear you humming John Williams’ Sunday Night Football theme as you scroll to this section. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, NBC has been streaming Sunday Night Football since 2008. When it began, it was free to all, but in recent years, NBC added the pay TV authentication requirement in order for you to watch the National Football League’s premier primetime package.

Still, in addition to the live linear NFL stream, NBC has added additional angles plus various other features to its SNF game. Like with DirecTV, ESPN and Fox, the games are also available on connected TV devices.



You may not be aware that you can watch NFL Network’s linear feed on the NFL app. Through authentication from your cable or satellite provider, you can see everything that airs on NFL Network online. This is true for its 24/7 TV feed and for Thursday Night Football. The key is that you won’t able to watch the NFL Network feed on your mobile unless you’re a Verizon Wireless customer.

But through NFL Network, you’ll be able to watch Thursday Night Football on the NFL tablet app, the NFL connected TV device app on Apple TV, Xbox one and 369 and Sony PlayStation Four as well as

NFL Network will be airing six TNF games exclusively, all produced by either CBS or NBC. They will be streamed online


NFL Twitter

This is the X Factor and we’re not talking the Fox show that once starred Simon Cowell, we’re talking about Twitter streaming ten Thursday Night Football games online. These will be games that will be aired on CBS and NBC. The key is that both CBS and NBC will be streaming their games as well, but Twitter will be the only place that doesn’t require authentication. No matter if you’re a regular tweeter or find the practice of Tweeter beyond your beliefs, TNF games will be available to one and to all.

So there in a nutshell is what the networks and one social media service are doing as far as NFL streaming is concerned.

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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