How to Watch Thanksgiving Football Online for Free Without Cable
Thanksgiving’s three NFL matchups might be some of the most-watched games all year. But there’s a catch—the games between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m., and New York Giants and Washington Redskins at 8:30 p.m., could have fewer viewers than years past, because of an increasing amount of cable subscribers who are cutting the cord.
But you don’t need cable to catch these games. If you’ve got a high-speed internet connection, there’s a lineup of live streaming television services that have put in a lot of practice for Thursday’s big games, which will air on FOX (FOX), CBS (CBS), and NBC, respectively.
Since those are major, over-the-air networks, the easiest way to catch the games is to plug a digital, over-the-air antenna—if you have one—into the back of your television and change the channel to your local affiliate. But if you don’t have that hardware, catching the game could be as simple as downloading a smartphone app and setting up an account. Here are the live streaming television services that offer free trials that include FOX, CBS, and NBC.
You can watch games on Thanksgiving using DirecTV Now‘s seven-day free trial. After that time, the service costs $35 per month for a package with at least 60 live channels. That basic-level plan includes CBS, FOX, and NBC, but beware—not every subscriber is guaranteed to get those local channels (a problem that plagues all these streaming services). So, before the opening snap, check your local channel availability here.
A streaming television service geared towards sport fans, Fubo TV has a seven-day free trial which offers 70 channels. After the trial is up, the service costs $19 per month for the first two months, and $39 per month after that. Packing all sorts of sports networks like Fox Sports 1, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports Network—as well as the NFL Network—it’s made for fans of the gridiron, and not just on Thanksgiving. For an extra $9 per month, you can get NFL Red Zone and six different PAC12 channels, which turn this streaming service from a turkey day side dish into a season-long, all-you-can-eat football buffet.
Hulu with Live TV
Like DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV also offers CBS, FOX, and NBC, but it also comes with its deep library of on-demand shows, which may be good if one of the games turns into a blowout. The service is free for a week, after which it runs $39 per month. There’s also an option to add on a cloud DVR service, which might be a smart investment if you’ve got a house full of people distracting you from the game, or if you want to watch the halftime show again.
Sling TV offers a seven-day free preview as well as FOX and NBC, but you can only get those channels in select markets and on its higher-tiered “Blue” plan, which costs $25 per month after the trial. (Sling’s lower tiered “Orange” plan costs just $20 per month, but doesn’t have those networks.) But while Sling TV Blue also offers the NFL Network, so it might be worth keeping after Thanksgiving, if you’re a big football fan. But there is one downside to going with Sling TV: No CBS, which means no Chargers versus Cowboys game.
PlayStation Vue is a dicey proposition for football plans, but if you’ve got a PlayStation 4, it might be the streaming service for you. The service has a five-day free trial and costs as little as $39 per month after the promotional period ends, but you’ll want to go for either the $45 “Core” or $55 “Elite” plan, because they both pack NFL Network. Also, from Sony’s description of PlayStation Vue’s services, it’s unclear what networks the plans include, and not just because of channel availability by zip code. For instance, some pages on Vue’s website say that CBS, FOX, and NBC are included, but others only list FOX. Inconsistencies like this might cause a fumble on Thanksgiving, so beware.
Google’s take on live, streaming television, YouTube TV, has a seven-day free trial, 40 channels and an infinitely large cloud DVR capability for $35 per month. It’s got all the major networks, including CBS, FOX, and NBC, but the catch is that it’s only available in select markets (though, there are quite a few). YouTube TV subscriptions also give viewers access to YouTube Red, which has all sorts of original content.