Updated December 1, 2015: Includes where to watch College Football online for the current season.
As more viewers tune-in to live college football on tablets and phones, more games are being added to sites that stream college games. Even the smaller, mid-major conferences are webcasting games this season. Whether you want to see top-ranked teams on nationally televised ESPN games, or stream college football for some late-night Mountain West Conference action, ESPN and CBS Sports both offer a huge variety of NCAA games in high-definition (HD) — from the biggest schools in the country, down to your favorite Division II underdogs.
Be warned that these online NCAA football channels are not free. ESPN’s online football stream is “free” only if you have a valid and active cable TV subscription. The stream cannot be purchased separately from cable. CBS Sports ULive, which offers coverage of 130 schools around the country, requires a monthly or annual subscription whether or not you already subscribe to cable. Both streaming sites let you watch college football online in HD and also stream other major NCAA athletic sports like basketball and baseball during those unbearable non-football months.
STREAM COLLEGE FOOTBALL LIVE ON WATCHESPN.COM
ESPN’s online streaming channel, WatchESPN.com, offers broadband HD video streams of most college football games shown on ESPN and ESPN2. Games are available live or on demand afterwards. WatchESPN.com is free to current cable TV subscribers. If you’ve already set up a cable verification username and password to watch another cable TV broadcast online, that same username and password will still work for WatchESPN.com.
WatchESPN.com provides access to the same games that are on ESPN networks in your geographic region, plus the games being broadcast to other regions and markets. The package also includes popular pre-game and highlight shows like “College Game Day” and “College Football Live.” Occasional blackout restrictions will apply, but WatchESPN.com still offers about 80% of games this college football season.
The WatchESPN.com video picture quality depends on available bandwidth, but the resolution is generally outstanding when viewed in HD. On big game days, viewers can use a picture-in-picture feature that plays up to four live games simultaneously on one screen. WatchESPN.com is also available as an app for Android and iOS (working on both smartphones and tablets), providing a second screen viewing option to your weekly college football binge. (Note: The picture above is from the WatchESPN mobile app.) ESPN additionally offers an ESPN College Football app, which offers video alerts of highlight plays, customizable scoreboards tracking your favorite games, and allows easy access to the WatchESPN.com app for watching college football live games.
WATCH COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON CBS SPORTS ULive
Big athletic conferences like the Big Ten, ACC, PAC 12, and the SEC have started their own regional cable channels to broadcast all their in-conference games. Each conference has its own mobile apps, but you need to download the app individually. There may be a subscription fee and cover games that are not televised on other channels. Wouldn’t it be great if someone created an online service that bundled all of these one-off conference TV networks into a single-purchase online package?
CBS Sports ULive offers live video and audio for the college football games of more than 130 schools, featuring games from the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Network, Pac 12, and other school or conference-specific TV channels. It might be fair to classify CBS Sports ULive as covering “everything that’s not on ESPN,” with an emphasis on smaller-tier schools. Its digital college football package costs $17.95 for a one-month subscription and $129.95 for a one-year subscription.
CBS Sports ULive viewers get more than just games. Subscribers also get to stream college football live press conferences, interviews, and regular daily video updates – ideal for fans who love all the pigskin news and analysis weekly. If you want a video report on your team’s Wednesday pre-practice stretch routine, this is the streaming service to get. You’ll be disappointed to find, though, that many of the games are available as audio-only broadcasts – with no video feed. You can download an iPhone or Android app that includes all teams for CBS Sports ULive. You can then buy audio and video streaming packages through the app, the prices for which will vary.
STREAM COLLEGE FOOTBALL AT ABC ONLINE
If you live in Houston, Chicago, Southern California, Philadelphia, or New York City you can view live streams of the games via the Android or Apple iOS app. You will have to confirm your location every time you login. This is a free option if you’re in those areas.
Do you want to watch college football online? Does WatchESPN.com make your cable subscription worth keeping? Who are this year’s tiny Division II underdogs to watch? Let’s hear your cheering or razzing in the comments below.