It’s pigskin playoff time, baby.
Saturday kicks off the 2016 NFL postseason, with 12 teams battling it out for the Lombardi Trophy. The action gets underway at 1:20 p.m. PT today, with Kansas City taking on Houston in an AFC Wild Card matchup. Seattle, meanwhile, visits a frigid Minnesota for a 10 a.m. game on Sunday — without Marshawn Lynch, surprisingly.
For those of us not planning to be in front of a TV with a cable connection, there are ways you can stream the games online to your tablet, laptop, or connected TV device — in some cases, for free without a subscription.
First, we should note that if you do have a TV but don’t have a cable subscription, one simple solution is to snag an over-the-air antenna to access games on local TV channels like CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. The NFL is unique in that it is “only sports league that delivers all of its games — regular-season and playoffs — on free, over-the-air television,” which the league noted at the end of a press release it issued this week.
Anyways, back to the streaming options. If you’re a Verizon subscriber, good news. The NFL announced Friday that all postseason games will be streamed via the NFL Mobile app, which is available on iOS, Android, and Windows.
If you’re not, there are other options — however, keep in mind that given the NFL’s exclusive contract with Verizon, non-Verizon customers won’t be able to stream games to their smartphone. PCs, laptops, tablets, and devices like Xbox One or Amazon Fire TV are OK.
For today’s Kansas City at Houston game on ESPN and ABC, those that subscribe to ESPN via a cable subscription can stream with WatchESPN, which you can access at WatchESPN.com or via apps for iOS, Android, Windows 8, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle Fire, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Roku.
One other option is Dish’s SlingTV, which costs $20 per month — a 7-day free trial is available — and includes an ESPN subscription.
For tonight’s Steelers at Bengals game kicking off at 5:15 p.m. PT, CBS will live-stream the action at CBSSports.com, as well as the CBS Sports app for iOS, Android, Windows 10, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.
A CBS spokesperson confirmed with GeekWire that you will NOT need a cable subscription log-in to access their broadcasts. CBS is also streaming both AFC Divisional Playoff games (Jan. 16 at 1:35 p.m. PT and Jan. 17 at 1:40 p.m. PT), as well as the AFC Championship game (Jan. 24 at 12:05 p.m. PT) and the Super Bowl (Feb. 7 at 3:30 p.m. PT).
FOX, meanwhile, is streaming its broadcasts via the FOX Sports GO platform, which does require a cable subscription. FOX will stream Sunday’s Green Bay at Washington game (1:40 p.m. PT), an NFC Divisional playoff game (Jan. 17 at 10:05 a.m. PT), and the NFC Championship game (Jan. 24 at 3:40 p.m. PT).
Finally, NBC is streaming its broadcasts vis the NBC Sports Live Extra platform, but you will need a cable subscription to access their feeds. NBC will stream Sunday’s Seattle at Minnesota game (10:05 a.m. PT) and an NFC Divisional playoff game (Jan. 16 at 5:15 p.m. PT).
NFL Game Pass
International NFL fans can stream and watch all postseason games on demand via NFL Game Pass, which requires a $99.99 subscription — though you can sign up for a 7-day free trial, which could work well if you’re just trying to stream a few playoff games. Those in the U.S. can subscribe to Game Pass if they want to watch playoff games on demand.
Although a bit risky, you can try using a VPN to make it appear like you’re not in the U.S. and pay the $99 to watch all the playoff games in live HD. Some popular VPNs include Hola, TunnelBear, or Cloak.
For radio, SiriusXM satellite subscribers who also receive SiriusXM Internet Radio can tune in to every postseason game via the SiriusXM app. TuneIn Premium subscribers can listen to the home and visiting team broadcast, as well as the Westwood One national feed, for each playoff game at TuneIn.com and via the TuneIn apps.
The NFL is also airing all postseason games on nearly 500 local terrestrial radio stations across the U.S.
More streaming options than ever
On a related note, Reuters reported on Friday that the NFL is meeting with Apple and Google to ink a streaming deal for all three games scheduled to be played in London next year. Last year, Yahoo paid the NFL a reported $20 million for the exclusive rights to live stream a game from London.
It’s clear that the NFL is dedicating more time, energy, and resources toward figuring out how to get more games online while also maintaining its lucrative traditional broadcast TV deals. Meanwhile, companies like CBS and NBC — given the options available this postseason — are also focusing on ways to stream games and reach more viewers.