How to watch the NFL playoffs without cable
Here's how to stream the playoffs online
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Sports may look different this year, but if there's one thing even a global pandemic couldn't touch, it's football. The NFL has maintained a steady schedule of games in its 2020-2021 season, adjusting times and matches as necessary due to COVID protocols. As the season comes to an end, we're looking forward to a (potentially) normal playoff schedule ahead. If you're hunting for a way to watch your favorite teams fight for their spots in the Super Bowl, we have great news: You don't need cable to do so.
From network-specific streaming apps to all-inclusive cable replacements, you've got more options than ever before. The next few weeks are critical for any football fan, so here's how you can keep watching the best teams duke it out on the road to the big game.
We've outlined every streaming network you can use to watch each game, but know that this list has a huge caveat: COVID. As staff members and players test positive, schedules may shift. The NFL claims it's doing everything it can to keep games exactly where they're supposed to be, but even the National Football League can't control where and when the virus will strike. We've included the schedule as it stands thus far, but know dates and times may shift due to COVID.
Every network you can use to stream the playoffs
Playoff games will stream on a number of networks, from ESPN to CBS. You can opt for a streaming service like YouTube TV, which includes most networks, or go for an app-specific approach if your favorite team is playing exclusively on one network. Here are all the streaming services showing playoff games this season.
Games you can watch: All
Playoffs will stream on all major networks like ABC, Fox, and CBS, as well as smaller channels like ESPN and Nickelodeon (seriously), so if you're itching to watch every game throughout the playoffs, subscribe to a streaming network like YouTube TV, which carries all the networks a sports lover could dream of. YouTube TV offers monthly contracts, so you can subscribe for the month of January without committing to payment for a full year.
You can snag two free weeks of YouTube TV as part of its trial, so if you sign up on 1/9, you can watch the Wild Card and Divisional playoffs for free on all networks. You'll have to pay the network's full price to watch the Conference Championship and Super Bowl (or you can explore one of the other options below for these games).
Hulu with Live TV
Games you can watch: All
Like YouTube TV, you can access every network streaming the playoff games on Hulu with Live TV, with the exception of Nickelodeon (which shouldn't matter—you can stream the Bears vs. Saints game on both Amazon Prime or CBS). Hulu with Live TV costs the same as YouTube TV—$64.99 a month—but also provides you access to the entire Hulu streaming library, so if you're already paying for Hulu each month, you may end up saving by upgrading to the Live TV package. You can also bundle Hulu Live TV with Disney+ and ESPN+ (for $71.99 a month), which may offer further savings if you subscribe to Disney+, too.
Hulu with Live TV offers free trials, but the length depends on whether you're a new or existing subscriber. If you're a new Hulu subscriber, you can get a free week of the service before you get billed, meaning you can sign up before any of the playoff rounds you want below, but you'll only be able to watch that weekend's game schedule for free. Otherwise you'll be paying for the full month of Hulu + Live TV.
Games you can watch: All
FuboTV offers another great option for watching all playoff games. It carries all major networks, as well as smaller local sports networks true fanatics will enjoy, including EPSN2, FS1, B1GNetwork, and NFL Red Zone. The Family plan costs $64.99 a month—the exact same as Hulu and YouTube TV. The benefit of fuboTV over the other networks is that it puts sports first, meaning you'll get access to a number of additional sports-themed channels you can watch throughout the year (or month, if you're just signing up for playoffs and hard-hitting commentary).
FuboTV offers a 7-day free trial, so you can watch one full weekend of playoff action for free before having to pay.
CBS All Access
Games you can watch: Super Bowl, AFC Championship game, Colts vs. Bills wild card game, Bears vs. Saints wild card game
CBS All Access features CBS, CBSN, CBS Sports, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and BET. If you're in it for the Super Bowl, this is the network to sign up for. You'll be able to watch a number of playoff games—including the AFC Championship game—and the big game itself. You'll miss playoff games streaming on any network other than CBS or Nickelodeon, so if you're watching for a specific team, supplement CBS All Access with another streaming option throughout the month.
CBS All Access offers a free 7-day trial, but only runs $5.99 a month. If you really only care about the Super Bowl, sign up for the free trial in early February to get the game for free.
Games you can watch: Ravens vs. Titans wild card game
ESPN will be broadcasting NFL playoff games on ESPN3, but as far as its streaming service, you'll only be able to watch the Ravens vs. Titans game. The service itself has a number of sports-specific channels, including UFC, NHL, and MLB channels.
Games you can watch: Browns vs. Steelers wild card game
NBC Peacock is the only free streaming option on this list. The service will be streaming the Browns vs. Steelers game for free on 1/10, but you'll need to sign up for a free account. In addition to live sports, subscribers gain access to a number of popular NBC shows, including The Office and 30 Rock.
2021 NFL playoff streaming schedule
As of early January, here's the expected NFL playoff schedule and where you can watch each game.
Where to stream the Wild Card round: 1/9 and 1/10
Colts vs Bills: 1/9 at 12:05pm on CBS, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, CBS All Access
Rams vs Seahawks: 1/9 at 4:40pm on Fox, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Buccaneers vs Washington: 1/9 at 7:15pm on NBC, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Ravens vs Titans: 1/10 at 12:05pm on ESPN, ABC, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, ESPN+
Bears vs Saints: 1/10 at 3:40pm on CBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime Video (free), YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, CBS All Access
Browns vs Steelers: 1/10 at 7:15pm on NBC, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, Peacock (free)
Note: As of January 5, the Browns' head coach Kevin Stefanski, guard Joel Bitonio, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, defensive back coach Jeff Howard, and tight end assistant Drew Petzing tested positive for COVID. The NFL does not anticipate rescheduling the game at this time.
Where to stream the Divisional Round: 1/16 and 1/17
Rams vs Packers: 1/16 at 4:35 pm on FOX, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Ravens vs Bills: 1/16 at 8:15 pm on NBC, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Browns vs Chiefs: 1/17 at 3:05 pm on CBS, CBS All Access, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Buccaneers vs Saints: 1/17 at 6:40 pm on FOX, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Where to stream the Conference Championships: 1/24
AFC Championship game: 1/24 on CBS, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, CBS All Access
NFC Championship game: 1/24 on FOX, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV
Where to stream the Super Bowl: 2/7
Super Bowl LV: 2/7 at 6:30 pm on CBS, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV, CBS All Access
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