It’s football season again! The NCAA starts up with nine games on Saturday, Aug 27th. There will be games on Fox and FloFootball, and two games each on ESPN and CBS Sports Net!
You don’t need a cable contract to see these games. Read on to learn how to dump cable and watch even more football.
In a hurry? If you are in no mood for details and just want to start streaming NCAA football now, these services are our favorites:
- FuboTV: The best streaming service for international sports also provides 100+ well-selected channels. FuboTV allows you to try out its service free for 7 days.
- DIRECTV STREAM: Get a great channel lineup with the best selection of RSNs in the industry. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
- Sling TV: This low-cost service allows you to select just the channel lineup you want. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.
Table Of Contents
The first week of NCAA football will feature over 80 games broadcasted. And it continues on like that. You might spend a small fortune getting a cable subscription that includes all the channels you need.
The good news is, you can get everything you need and more (including a free cloud DVR with most services) for far less.
You will want to reference the NCAA football schedule before deciding on a viewing strategy. There are a LOT of channels that broadcast college football, and it can differ quite a bit from team to team. So, we recommend looking for a schedule for the team(s) you like to follow, to check which networks their games usually air on.
But we know what’s on your mind, “How do I watch college football without cable?” The simple answer is: very easy! Let’s get to the details.
College Football Channels
To figure out how you can watch college football online without cable, you need to know the television channels that you need access to. With a few exceptions, you’ll find that most college football games air on the following networks:
Overall, the ESPN family of networks is the most important, as ESPN hosts the majority of college football. This is particularly true for the bigger teams and more popular conferences. So you will definitely want to make sure that you have access to ESPN and their other networks, like the ESPN channels, ACCN, and SECN.
Also important, are the Fox channels: FOX itself, FS1, FS2, and Big-Ten Network (BTN). Of increasing importance to NCAA football fans is ESPN+. This service provides exclusive access to some games, mostly from lower-tier schools.
Now that you know where the action is, let’s take a look at how to watch college football online and over-the-air.
Do You Need a VPN?
If you find you can’t watch particular events because of your location, a VPN should allow you to get the access you are entitled to. It also provides extra security and unequalled privacy. See our complete VPN Guide for all you need to know.
Watch College Football Live Online
Online streaming services are a great way to watch college football online. In recent years the rise of live television streaming has given way to previously cable-only channels, like ESPN, to become part of the online live streaming lineup.
Because college sports are a lot more fragmented than the professionals, it’s going to be difficult to catch EVERY college game. Aside from the physical limitations of watching every game on Saturday, different services will simply offer you access to different NCAA conferences.
To help you out with your search for that perfect college football-friendly streaming service, here’s a quick rundown of the available live television streaming services that are good to watch college football without cable.
FuboTV (free for 7 days) is an online streaming service designed primarily for fans who want to watch sports without cable. In fact, FuboTV is one of the best options for watching college football. You get over 100 channels with a sports focus for $69.99/mo.
Read our fuboTV review for an in-depth look at the service.
Here are the college football-relevant sports channels that you get with FuboTV:
- ABC Network (in most areas)
- CBS Network (in most areas)
- CBS Sports Network
- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 (via ESPN app)
- Fox Network (in most areas)
- NBC Network (in most areas)
- NBC Sports Network
- Regional Sports Networks.
For an additional $10.99 a month, you can get the Sports Plus add-on, which includes the following:
- Pac-12 Network (Base, Arizona, Bay Area, Oregon, Washington, Mountain, Los Angeles)
- SEC Network
- Stadium (4 channels).
Try FuboTV free for 7 days.
DIRECTV STREAM (AT&T TV)
DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) is another streaming service that’s similar to many we’ve already discussed.
DIRECTV STREAM has a number of channel packages available. They start at $69.99/mo but you may want to upgrade to the Choice plan for $89.99/mo. This is because it gives you access to its unequalled section of regional sports networks (RSN).
This may not be a big deal for college football but these stations are usually the place to go for local games in MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and many others.
Get DIRECTV STREAM free for 5 days.
Sling TV (save $10 on Sling TV) is a budget-friendly online streaming service that offers a good way to watch college football games online. It offers two primary subscription plans; Sling Orange and Sling Blue. They are $35/mo each or you can get both $50/mo.
Read this Sling TV review for an in-depth look at Sling’s packages.
Here are some of the most important college football channels that you get with each plan:
Sling TV Orange
- ESPN 2
- ESPN 3
Sling TV Blue
- Fox (in select areas)
- NBC (in select areas)
- NBC Sports Network
In addition to the two plans, you can pay $11 extra for a sports add-on and get additional channels that air college football ($15 for Orange + Blue). What channels come with the sports add-on will depend on which main plan you’re subscribed to, however, there is a bit of overlap.
Here’s what the sports-add on looks like for both plans.
Sports Extra Orange
- ACC Network
- ACC Network X
- SEC Network
- SEC Network+
- LHN (Longhorn Network)
- BeIN Sports.
Sports Extra Blue
- PAC-12 Network.
The bottom line is this: Sling TV is the most affordable way to watch college football games without cable. Technically an antenna is cheaper but antennas offer fairly limited coverage of college football as they don’t include any of the ESPN channels.
Note that Sling TV allows you to easily integrate an antenna with its system, which would provide you with ABC and CBS in addition to all the others.
Currently, save $10 on your first month of Sling TV.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu Live is the streaming giant’s attempt at breaking into the live television streaming market with this cable TV alternative. Currently, there is only one plan available with 85+ channels for $69.99 a month.
Read out Hulu Live review for an in-depth look.
Here are the relevant sports channels included in the plan:
- ABC (in most areas)
- ACC Network
- CBS (in most areas)
- ESPN3 (via ESPN App)
- ESPN College Extra
- Fox (in most areas)
- NBC (in most areas)
- SEC Network
Hulu is perhaps the most complete way to watch college football without cable. It includes many of the most important channels you’ll need to keep up, all in one package. Not only does it cover ESPN’s network of channels, but it offers local channels in most areas.
Hulu offers excellent value. This is particularly true if you consider the fact that Hulu + Live TV comes with the original Hulu, which is a huge on-demand library of thousands of entertainment options (similar to Netflix).
Check out Hulu Live for $69.99/mo.
Vidgo is one of the newest ways to watch college football online without cable TV. And it’s available for only $59.95 per month with 100+ channels.
Read out Vidgo review for an in-depth look.
Here are the relevant Vidgo channels that you get:
- ACC Network
- ESPN Deportes
- Longhorn Network
- Pac-12 Network (7 channels)
- SEC Network
Vidgo is a great, inexpensive way to watch college football online. Check out Vidgo for $59.95/mo.
ESPN+ is a new service that comes directly from ESPN itself. It’s available without a cable subscription and costs only $4.99 per month. The service provides limited access to some live college football games.
The games are mostly from less popular/lower-tier schools. But for $5 a month, it’s a service that’s well worth having for any sports fan.
Read our ESPN+ review for a closer look.
Keep in mind that ESPN+ is definitely not a full-fledged way to watch live college football. It’s meant to supplement other sources, as much of the content on ESPN+ is exclusively on ESPN+.
At the same time, you won’t see big primetime games airing on this service, so it’s far from a complete solution.
YouTube TV is another option. It is very much like Hulu + Live TV.
YouTube TV has only one package. It costs $64.99 a month and covers 85+ channels.
YouTube TV offers a solid all-around selection. It’s useful for watching college sports online, as well as keeping up with news, TV shows, etc.
Read our YouTube TV review for an in-depth look.
College Sports Live
College Sports Live (free trial) is an online streaming service dedicated to providing you with complete coverage of all college sports from 50 schools across the nation. This is a great service for people that follow smaller schools or just want a little extra coverage.
The only catch is that it airs non-televised events, which means if your school is playing on ESPN, you can not stream it on College Sports Live.
Read our College Sports Live review for an in-depth look.
You can either pay $9.95 a month for College Sports Live or you can pay $99.95 for the entire year. If you love other college sports besides football, and only want to catch a few occasional games, this is definitely worth a look.
It’s far from a complete solution, though.
Watch College Football Free with an Antenna
The only way to watch college football for free is by using an over-the-air antenna. With an OTA antenna, you will be able to pick ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX (although the networks you get will depend on where you live, and the quality of your antenna).
OTA antennas are cheap, there are no monthly fees, and everything you watch will show up in 1080i HD.
Typically, you’re going to see a lot of prime-time games airing on ABC and Fox. NBC and CBS air some NCAA football games but not a lot.
Here is a link to an article on NCAA.com with a decent list of upcoming college football games, along with what channels they will air on.
Keep in mind that antennas ONLY cover games on NBC/FOX/CBS/ABC. For games airing on ESPN and all the other college football channels, you’ll need another option – see the streaming services above.
Also, remember that antenna reception varies a lot depending on where you live. If you live near a major city, you’ll probably get most of the networks you want. If you’re more rural, you may find that you only get 1 or 2 of the major networks, if that.
You can use online tools to get an idea of what channels you may pick up in your area, or refer to streaming service websites to check your local channel eligibility.
Listen to College Football
If all else fails, and you just can’t find the game you’re looking for, or you are really strapped on cash, then you might want to turn to the radio. Most games will have live audio coverage, and more often than not schools will stream the radio broadcast online on the team’s website.
Barring that, you can always use online radio apps, such as TuneIn, to find local broadcasts of the team you’re looking for. TuneIn has one of the widest selections of terrestrial radio stations, and, best of all, it’s free.
You can search by location, language, topic, and more. It’s super easy to find everything and you don’t need an incredibly fast connection in order to stream. If you’ve got a little imagination, it’s the perfect penny-pinching cable TV alternative.
Superpower Your Streaming With a VPN
For the sake of privacy, security, and access, you should be using a VPN. They are low-cost and easy to use. We’ve been using them for years and our top pick is ExpressVPN.
|i||Our VPN Buyer’s Guide provides a complete introduction and all you need to know to choose the best VPN for your needs.|
Stream on Your Smart TV or Device
Just because you are streaming NCAA football games doesn’t mean your friends need to huddle around your computer screen. (Although you can do that: all the streaming services provide support for web browsers and you can connect via HDMI or casting to a TV.)
All the services we’ve mentioned support almost all of the streaming devices on the market.
TVs and TV Streaming Devices
To use a streaming service with your TV, you need to have a supported smart TV or TV device. Any smart TV that is compatible with Android TV will work (except with AT&T TV). Most also support Samsung and LG models. If you have something else, check our streaming service reviews for more details.
All the services support the following TV devices as well:
- Amazon Fire TV: A device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI jack to allow it to run streaming apps provided by the services.
- Apple TV: This is Apple’s version of the Fire TV stick.
- Roku: Similar to the others, this device has been around since the beginning and is very popular.
If you are on the go and want to stream on your phone or tablet, you are all set.
- Android: Android-powered smartphones are universally supported
- iOS devices (iPhones, iPads): The smartphones and tablets from Apple are also fully supported.
You can also use your mobile device to cast a streaming service to your smart TV or regular TV with a Chromecast device.
Gaming Consules and VR
If you want to watch on gaming consoles, you have a lot of options. Most of the services support Xbox. Hulu also supports PlayStation and Echo Show. Are you a VR fan? If so, Sling TV supports Oculus.
Watch Your Favorite College Team
Click your favorite team below for more specific info on how to stream their games.
- Notre Dame
- Texas Longhorns
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Clemson Tigers
- LSU Tigers
- Oklahoma Sooners
- Ohio State
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Auburn Tigers
- Michigan Wolverines.
Watching College Football Without Cable
Sometimes watching college football without cable can seem tricky, but it really isn’t anymore. And with help from today’s guide, you should have no problem finding the game of your choice at a price you can afford.
If you need a quick recap, here’s my recommendation: Sign up for a streaming service like FuboTV, Sling TV, or Hulu with Live TV. This will give you most of the channels you need to watch tons of college football games, alongside other sports, news, and entertainment.
All these services are non-contract, so you can cancel at any time if it doesn’t work out.
What’s your favorite NCAA conference? SEC? Big Ten? Or maybe something a little smaller? Let us know in the comments below or sound off on social media! And don’t forget to catch your favorite talent as they show off for the scouts in the NFL Combine.