Football fans often find themselves in a predicament when their favorite NFL team’s game is not being broadcast in their local TV market. Regional broadcasting rights mean most NFL games each Sunday are only available in certain parts of the country. So how can you watch your out-of-market team play every week?
What does it mean for an NFL game to be out of market?
NFL games are considered “in market” if they feature the local team where you live. For example, if you live in Dallas, Cowboys games would be in market for you. Every other NFL game that doesn’t include the Cowboys would be considered out of market.
The NFL divides up broadcast rights for its games by region, based on designated market areas (DMAs). Television providers in each DMA get the rights to air the local team’s games. This is why some games each week aren’t available on local channels in certain parts of the country.
Why can’t I watch my favorite team’s games on local TV?
The NFL sells the rights to broadcast games regionally, so fans can always watch their local team play. Broadcast partners like CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN pay a premium for the rights to air these regional games.
The downside for fans is it limits access to out-of-market games each week. Your local CBS affiliate is only permitted to show the CBS games assigned to your region. Even though they are physically capable of broadcasting any game, the NFL’s policies prohibit it.
NFL Sunday Ticket – The out of market viewing solution
The NFL offers an out-of-market football package called NFL Sunday Ticket. This allows fans to watch every Sunday afternoon game, regardless of where they live. Here’s how it works:
- Includes all out of market Sunday games (1PM ET and 4PM ET kickoffs)
- Lets you follow a team even if you live outside their home market
- Provides options to stream games on mobile devices and connected TVs
- Some student and military discounts available
NFL Sunday Ticket is only available through DirecTV satellite service. AT&T also offers it for streaming on their DirecTV Stream platform. Because it provides so much valuable out-of-market content, Sunday Ticket does come at a fairly high price.
NFL Sunday Ticket TV Packages and Pricing
|NFL Sunday Ticket (To-Go)
|Out of market games only
|NFL Sunday Ticket Max
|Includes RedZone channel and Fantasy Zone
|DirecTV CHOICE Package
|Base TV package required to add on Sunday Ticket
The least expensive way to get Sunday Ticket is by signing up for a streaming account only. This lets you watch all the out-of-market NFL games on mobile apps, smart TVs and other connected device. You don’t need an actual satellite dish.
To be eligible for Sunday Ticket as a streaming customer:
- You can’t have DirecTV or AT&T TV service where you live
- Your residence must be able to confirm you can’t get satellite TV
- Apartment buildings and dorms qualify as you don’t control the property
Other ways to stream NFL games out of market
If you don’t want to pay for NFL Sunday Ticket, there are still options to watch your favorite team without cable. Most streaming TV services carry the local CBS, Fox and NBC channels that air NFL games each week. Here are some services with free trial offers to test them out:
- Offers CBS, Fox, NBC and NFL Network
- Cloud DVR to record games
- Plans start at $69.99 per month
- 7-day free trial available
Hulu + Live TV
- Carries CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN
- 50 hours cloud DVR storage
- Plans from $69.99 per month
- 7-day free trial offer
- Good option for NBC and NFL Network
- 50 hour DVR upgrade available
- Starting price of $35 per month
- 3-day free trial on offer
- Provides CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN
- Unlimited cloud DVR included
- $64.99 per month cost
- 5-day free trial available
Watch nationally televised games
Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football are all broadcast nationally. This means you can watch those primetime games every week with just basic cable or streaming TV service.
Thursday Night Football airs on Amazon Prime and twitch.tv for the 2022 season. Sunday Night Football is on NBC and Monday Night Football is on ESPN.
Use an HD antenna for local games
Another option is to use an over-the-air (OTA) digital TV antenna. This allows you to watch NFL games on CBS, Fox and NBC that are being broadcast locally in your area. Here are some benefits:
- One-time purchase, no monthly fees
- Picks up free local channel signals
- Enjoy games in full HD picture quality
- Simple setup – just connect antenna to TV tuner
Limitations of an antenna are you only get what’s being shown on local stations. So it’s good for watching your area team, but not out-of-market games. Be sure to scan for channels after setup to see which are available where you live.
Listen to radio broadcasts online
You can always listen to live radio coverage of NFL games featuring your favorite team. The flagship station of each team broadcasts all their games. These station streams are available on the NFL app and websites such as TuneIn.
While not as exciting as watching the action, listening to commentary as the big plays unfold can help you follow along.
Watch replays of full game broadcasts
If you can’t catch a game live, viewing the replay can be almost as good. NFL GamePass provides on demand access to broadcasts of every game.
With a GamePass subscription you can:
- Stream replays of all regular season NFL games
- Watch the broadcasts in condensed form without commercials
- Watch games on your connected devices as well as on your TV
- Get the All-22 Coaches Film for an unique viewing angle
The main drawback of GamePass is that it does not include live regular season games. But it’s great for watching your out-of-market team if you can’t view them as they happen.
NFL Game Pass Pricing
|NFL Game Pass (Domestic)
|NFL Game Pass International
Consider going to a sports bar
When all else fails, head down to your local sports bar. Many bars open early for NFL games and purchase expensive DirecTV packages. This allows them to show every game on multiple screens so fans don’t miss a play.
Advantages of catching the game at a bar include:
- No subscription or fees required
- Join other fans in cheering for your team
- Full commercial bar and menu available
- Oversized HD screens perfect for watching the action
Just be prepared for crowds and noise during the most exciting moments. Arrive early to grab the best seat in the house.
With so many streaming options available, there are multiple ways to watch NFL football if you live outside your favorite team’s market. While NFL Sunday Ticket provides the most complete coverage, free trials from fuboTV, Hulu and YouTube TV allow you to evaluate those services with minimal commitment.
An HD antenna or sports bar are economical alternatives as well. Don’t let regional broadcasting rights keep you from following your NFL team all season long.