How to Watch NFL Games Without Cable – 2016-2017 Season

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Complex licensing agreements means that it’s going to be difficult for you to watch NFL games without cable, even if you have a digital, over-the-air antennae. CBS, NBC, and FOX may be showing most of the games for free, but you can’t always access every game. Local affiliates will show different games at the same time, and some games may only appear on cable channels with their own licensing agreements (ESPN, NFL Network).

You have several options to bypass cable. One we already mentioned: purchasing a digital OTA antenna and capturing some of the games you can manage. However, the best and easiest option is Kodi, a media center application that opens up online streaming options you may not have known existed. Our guide below will help you find where to stream NFL games without a cable package.



What is Kodi? Why Should I Use It?

Kodi is a media center application that runs on plugins, known as “add-ons”. These add-ons “scrape”, or pull from websites that have streaming content. Kodi is completely free, as are the add-ons.

Click here to download the correct Kodi version for your operating system.

Once installed, you’ll find that Kodi is empty of any add-ons.  Our guide will help you install a few key add-ons to get the content you want. However, should you want a slightly easier process and want to explore the other benefits of Kodi beyond sports, you can install a fully-loaded  Kodi BuildFor more information, refer to our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Kodi.

Keep scrolling to learn more about the add-ons we’ve picked out for you. First, however, make sure to read out note on why you should use a VPN for Kodi. 


Use a VPN When Streaming NFL Through Kodi

Kodi is a great application for streaming NFL games without cable. However, Kodi users have been known to receive copyright infringement notices after streaming through certain add-ons. While Kodi itself is legal, some of the community-made add-ons can often fall into a grey area.

Many Kodi users turn to a VPN to help avoid this issue. A VPN encrypts your connection, ensuring that no one (including your ISP) can see what you’re streaming. Our personal recommendation for the best VPN is IPVanish. We like to think of it as a complete privacy protection suite for Kodi.

kodi security


Kodi App for Watching NFL Games

There are a limited number of good add-ons for watching NFL games on Kodi. The ones we tested and found worked the best are  cCloud TV, Castaway, and SportsDevil. These add-ons carry streams for NBC, CBS, FOX, NFL Network and ESPN. After you’ve installed Kodi, follow the linked guides below.

cCloud TV

cCloud TV NFL

Click here to access our installation guide

cCloud TV is an excellent option to turn to for your NFL watching needs. We found working links to ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC. Unfortunately, we did not locate a working stream for NFL Network on this add-on, although there is one listed. The best benefit of this add-on is the fact that there are a number of local affiliates for the network stations, meaning you’ll be able to watch NFL games from across the country instead of just the ones shown for you locally.

Castaway

Castaway NFL

Click here to access our installation guide

Castaway takes a lot of heat from the Kodi community for its faults, but we’ve found good use out of it for sports streaming. Your key here is the shadownet.ro site that Castaway streams from. You can find it in the Live TV section of the add-on. Castaway features a lot of NFL options through network TV affiliates and includes working links to NFL Network and ESPN. We’ve also found that Castaway is a good option for finding NFL replays, which you can access in the Archives section of the add-on.

SportsDevil

SportsDevil NFL

Click here to access our installation guide

SportsDevil is our least favorite option, but we place it on here because it also has a working link to shadownet.ro. The same benefits we listed for shadownet.ro under Castaway, you’ll find under SportsDevil. We suggest adding this one alongside Castaway in case Castaway’s scraper stops working for any reason.


NFL Game Replay Options

You can’t always be there for every game, making repay uniquely important. We put together a piece on where you can find NFL replays, which you can access by clicking here. The list contains Castaway (on this list as well) and another called Pro Sport. It also includes several add-ons you should avoid for replays, should you see them being mentioned elsewhere.


Watch NFL Games with Sling TV

We’ve previously reviewed methods to watch Sling TV outside of the US using a VPN. If you’re looking for a cheaper cable alternative, this may be a good option for you. US-based football fans will find that Sling TV does have a lot to offer. While it’s not free, you can curate your package to give you access to live games and replays. Depending on the package you purchase, you’ll get ESPN, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, Fox, and NBC. CBS is not available with Sling TV, as CBS has their own streaming service.


What’s the Deal with NFL and Cable Anyway?

Licensing agreements are the main reason why you often need cable to access many games. If you want to learn more about licensing agreements, head on over to our partner piece about watching NFL games online for free. We detail out what those look like, up until 2022.

The short version is this: Most games are broadcast on the major free networks with licensing agreements (NBC, CBS, and FOX). The only cable channels showing NFL games are ESPN and the NFL Network. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a cable plan, you can’t watch the online live streaming options offered by NBC, CBS or FOX. In this manner, they force you to either purchase a cable package to watch all of the games possible or turn to alternative methods like Kodi.

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