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How To Watch NFL Online And Which Live Football Games Are Free

by Joe Kukura on September 3, 2013

Watch football onlineWhen your life justifiably revolves around NFL football, you need to know how to watch live football games somewhere other than just your living room. If you’ve cut the cable cord, it’s especially important to know how to watch live football free. After all, we’re not savages. Even without a satellite dish, a nearby sports bar or a cable TV subscription, there are still NFL games that will be available for you to watch football live each Sunday with nothing but the Internet connection you’re surfing right now. For starters, the opening night showdown of the champion Baltimore Ravens vs. the Denver Broncos is streaming for free on Thursday, September 5, 2013.

Sure, having that cable subscription now lets you watch football online a whole lot more. A cable subscription entitles you to Monday Night Football live-streaming privileges, plus the NFL RedZone Channel all day Sunday – but watching the RedZone Channel over the Internet is only available to customers of certain cable TV providers. Some NFL games are free online for everyone, other games are available only on certain devices or to customers of certain cable companies, or to certain cell phone company customers or. Let’s look at the byzantine set of new regulations the NFL is employing this year to determine which games you can watch on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, and which games anyone can watch online for free. Check out the graph below for a quick reference of where to watch football games online.

watch NFL games online

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The one NFL game every week that anyone can watch live for free is the marquee Sunday Night Football game webcast live at NBC Sports Extra. Each Sunday night during the 2013 NFL regular season, you can watch one of the better match-ups of the weekend at 8 p.m. ET courtesy of NBC Sports. (The Opening Night game on Thursday, September 5 is also being streamed for free on NBC Sports Extra). You’ll get the Sunday Night Football announcing team of Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth, plus your choice of a number of camera angles that aren’t accessible to those watching on TV. You won’t get the “Football Night in America” scores and highlights pre-game show, but you do get a reliable HD live stream of the game.

There is one and only catch to the free Sunday Night Football webcast – you cannot watch it on a smartphone or tablet unless you are a Verizon cellular service customer. Verizon has exclusive rights to streaming the NFL on mobile devices, so only Verizon customers can watch live games on their smartphones or tablets.


A big change this year of which NFL fans should be aware: the massively fantastic NFL RedZone Channel is now available online streaming live football online. The NFL RedZone Channel is seven hours of non-stop, commercial-free live football, with coverage that whipsaws from live game to live game and shows you every touchdown and all of the most intriguing plays of each Sunday afternoon’s early and late games. I have several times gone seven hours without using the washroom just because of the impressive coverage on the NFL RedZone Channel.

While the NFL RedZone Channel is now streaming online, you can only watch the Internet stream if you have an active cable television subscription through COX, CableVision (Optimum), AT&T UVerse, or Verizon FIOS. If you do subscribe to one of those cable service carriers, you get a free 24-hour stream of the NFL Network as a benefit. That stream includes the NFL RedZone broadcast all day long on Sunday.


As in previous years, ESPN will stream Monday Night Football live online on, the site that lets you watch ESPN on the Internet. WatchESPN is provided free of charge, but only available to cable subscribers. Unlike the NFL RedZone Channel live stream, WatchESPN is available to subscribers of pretty much every cable service carrier, and the stream is available in quality high-definition (HD).

Again, though, you won’t be able to watch Monday Night football on a smartphone unless Verizon is your cellular service carrier. Verizon’s exclusive carriage of live NFL games on smartphones applies here as well.


As noted earlier, Verizon is has exclusive rights to live NFL games on mobile devices, and provides fans with three live games every weekend. Verizon subscribers can watch Thursday Night Football live, Sunday Night Football live, and Monday Night Football live. If that’s not enough live football Verizon mobile customers can also watch the Sunday RedZone Channel on their smartphones. These streams are not entirely free, even Verizon customers must pay the $5 fee for the NFL Mobile app to access the NFL live streams. While you can watch the RedZone channel on your mobile device, your tablet or smartphone won’t show individual Sunday afternoon games – yet. Next year, Verizon will begin streaming your locally broadcast 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET games on smartphones for the 2014 NFL season.

Are you ready for some football streaming on your desktop, smartphone, or tablet? Who are this year’s NFL teams to beat? Would you switch to Verizon just to get NFL games on your smartphone or iPad? Let us know your official rulings on the field in the comments section below.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob B September 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the chart. I was trying to figure out if I could stream the NFL opener this Thursday and found your post. Since I can’t remember who is covering what games this year, the chart is very helpful. I still wish they would stream every game on so I don’t have to remember who has what game where.

2 RealPlayer September 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Glad you found the chart helpful. While where to watch which games can be a bit confusing, you can definitely watch the opening game on Thursday for free online.

3 Bernie S September 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm

How fast does my connection have to be to watch this Thursday’s NFL opener? Is it going to buffer on me if my connection is slow. I’ve never watched a football game live online. I think I need a basic 101 on How to Watch NFL Games online. Sorry this online stuff is new to me. Go Ravens! We miss you Ray!

4 RealPlayer September 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

You should be fine with at least a DSL connection. Really, as long as you’re not using a dial-up modem you should be fine. It couldn’t be easier to watch football online just go to at 8:00 PM ET tomorrow and press play on the video screen. Let us know how you like the experience.

5 TommyS September 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Does the RedZone Channel only stream on Sundays? What if I only have dial-up? Will it buffer and let me watch football online just delayed a bit?

6 Adrian P September 5, 2013 at 2:40 am

Will this work in the UK? Are there any other options for people living in the UK and watching the season opener online?

7 Big B September 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Hope this is as easy as it sounds. Cant wait to try this out while I am on the road, I have to travel a lot for work this season, and I cant miss a game. Steeler Nation, no matter what city and hotel I am staying in! Glad there are free options, but Id pay for em if I have to.

8 RealPlayer September 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Streaming football is great and you can do it on the road easily – especially if you have Verizon wireless service.

9 Alex Smith September 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

http://www.sportlemon.tvi s the best of free sites. But there’s bad resolution etc etc, you know like every free website :)
better, buy some TV software and watch everything you want from sports (Football, Basketball, Tennis, NFL, Formula etc.)
I’m using this one for a year, and I’m pleased with the service

10 J. September 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I’m forced to travel a bunch this season as well so can’t thank you enough for the info.! … and I have Verizon, added bonus!

11 Kevin S September 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

@Alex..your sportlemon site isn’t even working now : (

So I take it that to even take advantage of just the Sunday Night game, you still have to have a tv cable subscription? Gees, if I had that I wouldn’t really need to watch it online. (and I get that some folks aren’t at home, etc)

It seems like in the past you could just watch SNF without providing cable subscriber info…guess I’ll have to find a sports bar for the Seahawk game tonight.

12 Saint Martin September 15, 2013 at 9:48 am

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13 Eric September 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

What is the website to watch NFL Redzone

14 RealPlayer September 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

You can find it here:

15 mm October 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

No help for cable cutters. Who needs ESPN online for Monday night football if you have a cable subscription? If you are travelling, every bar and hotel in America will carry it. The B######S just make you have a cable subscription now to punish the cable cutters.

16 fawncoco benton September 2, 2014 at 6:45 am

Why is my phone not downloadinh movies

17 Brinton Felixraja September 2, 2014 at 7:04 am

With the latest version of RealPlayer Cloud app (for device), you can’t download movies. This feature is not available for device. However, you can save the Cloud videos that are stored in Cloud space. To download movies, you need to install RealPlayer Cloud in your computer and enable the RealDowloader plugin.

Note: RealPlayer Cloud and previous version respects DRM’s and does not enable you to copy DVD’s and download from the Internet content that is protected by DRM.

You can download the free RealPlayer Basic software from the following web site:

After installing RealPlayer follow the steps given in the below link to enable the RealPlayer Plugin:

If you have any additional questions, please send an email to

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