Watching football on TV can be a great escape from reality. Two teams battling it out in front of a massive scoreboard is a fun way to pass the time and be entertained.
But that experience has become much more complicated for many fans this year due to the Disney-Charter dispute and the fact that cable providers now black out a huge number of ESPN channels for their customers.
As football season begins, many fans are wondering how much they’ll pay to watch every game this year. And the answer is: a lot.
Most fans will need access to multiple streaming platforms to catch every NFL game this year. That’s because the league has split its broadcast rights between a number of networks and services.
For example, CBS and Fox each air Sunday afternoon games, while NBC hosts the popular primetime Sunday night football broadcasts. Then there’s the NFL RedZone channel on DirecTV Stream, which requires a two-year contract and costs an extra $15 per month.
The good news is that cord cutters have more options than ever this year. YouTube TV checks all the NFL boxes for $73 a month, while fubo and Hulu + Live TV also offer the channels you need to watch football. And this is the first year that Amazon Prime is the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” under a long-term deal.
Whether you’re watching at home or in the stadium, modern technology improves your football viewing experience. For example, oversized video scoreboards have become a staple at NFL stadiums and help fans fire up their teams. Additionally, home teams use them to deliver replays and closer views of action during a game.
As more people stream live football, it’s important that the technology used to provide these streams is up to par. This includes audio mixers and transmission equipment. Ideal Systems recently worked with the FAS to provide a digital intercom system for the production team using Kiloview SRT encoders and decoders.
For a real-time look at the action, you can also subscribe to streaming services that include camera feeds from stadiums or even drones. ESPN has a “Pylon Cam” that is mounted on the side of a broadcast truck. It captures footage from around 50 cameras and provides a unique perspective for viewers. The technology behind these broadcasts is constantly evolving. Skeletal tracking is now possible, which enables a broadcaster to track the movement of individual players in real-time.
When you watch a football game, you get an escape from your regular life for two hours. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the action.
Whether you’re at home or watching at your local sports bar, the NFL’s TV deals mean that almost everyone can watch every game this season. And that’s even true for those who cut the cord.
Cord cutters can stream NFL games on many services, including YouTube TV ($65 per month), Hulu Live TV ($70) and DirecTV Stream ($80 after various fees). But those options don’t include ESPN, which recently blacked out its apps for more than 14 million Spectrum cable customers due to an impasse between Disney and the company.
The cheaper Sling TV ($35 per month) and FuboTV ($50) both offer CBS, Fox Sports and ESPN channels. The former offers NBC Sunday afternoon games and the latter includes the network’s NFL RedZone add-on in its Sports Plus tier for $11 more per month.
Football fans have always been a very connected community. Regular season NFL games are the highest rated shows on television, even beating out marquee events such as the NBA Finals or MLB World Series. That connection is even stronger in the digital age with fans able to watch their teams on a variety of different channels and services.
Those cutting the cable cord can still easily catch every in-market Sunday afternoon game broadcast on CBS and Fox, plus “Sunday Night Football” on NBC and four Monday night games on ESPN. Streaming services like DIRECTV STREAM, FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV all provide access to these networks, including the NFL Network.
However, note that ESPN+’s live “Monday Night Football” games will be blacked out to several million Spectrum cable subscribers this year due to a contract dispute between Disney and Spectrum. Fans could still find access to ESPN+ via other paid streaming services such as Paramount+ and Peacock Premium.