A VPN is a powerful tool that you can use to watch out-of-market NFL games. Read on to get all the details!
In a hurry? You can use a VPN to make out-of-market NFL games in-market to you. These VPNs are our top picks for streaming:
- ExpressVPN: Established VPN provider in close to 100 countries. Smart DNS and unlimited bandwidth. Try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Hotspot Shield: Connect to servers in 25+ US cities. Comes with a 7-day free trial!
- CyberGhost: Great low-cost service with a free 24-hour trial.
Table Of Contents
NFL broadcasting is set up so that games on Sunday afternoons occur at the same time as others. And since these live games are broadcast regionally by CBS and Fox affiliates, fans are usually out of luck when it comes to watching games that feature teams outside the area.
Your local networks will show your local team’s games because that’s what most people in your area will want to see. But that’s not necessarily what you want to see.
Say you’re a Falcons fan living in New York. Ordinarily, the only chance you’ll have to see the Falcs play is if they’re up against the Giants or the Jets — or when they happen to be playing a nationally televised primetime game.
Unless you have a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. As the name implies, it first and foremost is a service designed to protect your privacy. But one of the most common uses of a VPN is to change your virtual location — where the internet thinks you are — to somewhere else in the country (or the world). This can allow you to avoid game blackouts in your area.
Using a VPN in a Nutshell
We won’t get into all the technical details here. If you want those, we have plenty in our in-depth guide to VPNs. But basically, a VPN provides an extra layer of security while hiding your computer’s IP address. They allow you to surf the web with complete privacy — even from your internet provider.
For our purposes here, VPNs allow you to stream from any of the locations of the available VPN servers. It’s a very simple process.
Here is the process to livestream out-of-market NFL games with a VPN:
- Choose a VPN. There are plenty of good ones on the market. We all use ExpressVPN, but other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.
- Set up your account and download the VPN app on your devices.
- Figure out the location you can livestream the game from.
- Connect your VPN and stream the game.
Using a VPN to Livestream NFL Out-of-Market Games
Again, if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, this all probably sounds overwhelming. So let’s take each of the “four easy steps” above and break them down in the context of unblocking out-of-market football games.
1. Choosing a VPN
If you’re selecting a VPN for security or privacy in addition to the ability to livestream out-of-market games, you should carefully consider each VPN’s features and pricing.
Critical factors that affect your decision:
- Does the VPN support your device? Is there an acceptable work-around if it doesn’t? Most, like Fire TV, allow you to stream through an integrated browser as a last resort.
- Does the VPN have a server in or near the team you want to follow? For instance, if you’re a Detroit Lions fan living outside the Motor City, neither ExpressVPN (deal) nor HotSpot Shield (deal) have a server in Detroit. But SurfShark does (deal).
- How many simultaneous connections does the VPN support? This is important if more than one person will be streaming at the same time.
- Does the VPN allow enough bandwidth? With high-resolution video streaming, it’s easy to eat up even generous bandwidth allowances. Look for unlimited bandwidth plans.
- Are the servers fast enough? Buffering servers can make them all but useless streaming NFL games.
Other things to look for, although not specific to NFL streaming, are access to customer support and the use of a no-logs policy.
All the VPNs compared on our page meet industry standard requirements for encryption and other security features. Most are relatively inexpensive month-to-month. But several have tiers of service with increasing features and access to servers.
2. Setting Up Your VPN
To set up your VPN on your computer or as a browser extension is pretty easy — just download the app and follow the setup instructions, or install the browser extension from your browser’s app store.
Most services allow you to watch on pretty much all the streaming devices that are in use today. And that’s also true of VPNs, but not as true. Roku devices, for the most part, do not allow you to install VPNs directly. We have a complete list of devices and the VPNs that support each.
If you livestream on your computer, mobile device, or TV that you’re used to installing apps on, then you’re done. You’re also done if you have a Chromecast or a Vizio Smartcast or use Apple AirPlay.
However, if you want to livestream the game directly on your smart TV or TV device, that’s a bit trickier. You’ll need to pick a VPN that supports your device. ExpressVPN, for example, supports Android TV and Apple TV, but not Amazon Fire TV. We have a complete comparison on our VPN page.
The alternative is to install the VPN directly on your router, so it covers your entire Wi-Fi network, not just a single device. Details on this are beyond the scope of this article, but the process is surprisingly straightforward. Your VPN provider will have step-by-step instructions.
3. Finding a Streaming Location
This is where your favorite team (or teams) come into play. If you follow the Giants, Jets, Chargers, Rams, Commanders, or Bears, you should be fine with any of the VPNs that support your device. This is because NY, LA, DC, and Chicago are nearly universally represented in US server lists.
However, if you follow the Packers, Vikings, Colts, Bengals, or Browns, you may have a rougher time. You’ll still be able to find the live NFL games, you’ll just have to be a bit more creative.
For example, if the Colts are playing the Cowboys, you can connect to a server in Dallas or Indianapolis to livestream the game. But there are many other cities where this game may be broadcast.
Note that CyberGhost lets you Request VPN Server, which they explain in this way: “Can’t find the VPN server you need? Let us know and we’ll try to expand our global network to include it.” Other VPNs offer similar services. It might be worth reaching out!
VPNs understandably focus on international servers. But when it comes to watching the NFL, you’ll require American servers in the correct locations. You can use the table below to help you find the best VPN service (which offers servers in the local area) for each NFL team.
Be sure to check first because server locations change often.
Note that there is currently no VPN that we know of that provides a server in Pittsburgh. But remember, you can still watch Steelers games in the city of their opponent each week. Furthermore, the Steelers are one of the most popular teams throughout the nation, so you will usually find their games broadcast elsewhere.
4. Using Your VPN
Once it’s installed, your VPN should be a breeze to use. Most have a list of locations or a map (or both). You can use this to search by city or country name.
Many VPNs have a smart connect function that allows you to select a country, region, or city to connect to. They then choose the fastest, least-crowded server available. All the most popular ones will walk you through the process with pop-up tips and suggestions.
Live TV Streaming Services to Use With VPNs
VPNs can be used to access content from all over the world. Since live TV streaming services offer all the channels you need to livestream the NFL games without cable, fans are in luck — no matter where they are.
All Sunday afternoon regular season games are shown on either CBS or Fox. But which games are shown will depend upon where the station is located. The CBS and Fox affiliates in a particular location will show the games that are of most interest to fans there.
Preseason games have a similar problem, except their games aren’t limited to Sundays.
VPNs allow you to change your apparent location and stream the games that are shown there.
Here are streaming platforms that will offer you the best coverage of NFL games around the nation:
- Fubo (formerly FuboTV): It is well known for its wide sports coverage, offering 35+ sports channels out of the 150+ channels in its Pro plan ($74.99/mo). The plan includes CBS and Fox. It offers a great RSN selection for watching MLB, NBA, and NHL games. (Fubo review)
- Sling TV: It is cheaper than the others at $40.00/mo but it only offers Fox (no CBS) in its Sling Blue package in select markets. (Sling TV review)
- DIRECTV STREAM: The Entertainment package goes for $74.99/mo and it offers all the local network affiliates: ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. (DIRECTV STREAM review)
- Hulu + Live TV: With 85+ live channels, Hulu Live has an excellent local channel lineup, including Fox and CBS. It also includes ESPN+ and Disney+. The base package is $69.99/mo. (Hulu + Live TV review)
- Vidgo: Offers 100+ channels including Fox (but not CBS) for $69.99/mo. (Vidgo review)
- YouTube TV: It is similar to Hulu Live, offering 85+ channels with all the local channels. It has only one package ($72.99/mo) which provides you with access to CBS and Fox.
Out-of-Market NFL Games Without VPNs
Other than streaming services, you can watch out-of-market NFL games through NFL Sunday Ticket, NFL+ Premium, and NFL RedZone.
NFL Sunday Ticket
NFL Sunday Ticket costs a bit less: between $350 and $500 for the entire NFL season. The cheaper price is based upon having it as an add-on with YouTube TV. The more expensive plan is if you want the standalone YouTube version.
NFL+ is an in-market service. It allows you to livestream (Android and iOS (iPhone) mobile devices only) your local NFL games live. It also includes primetime games Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, and Sunday Night Football and holiday matchups in addition to preseason and postseason games.
So why are we mentioning it regarding out-of-market streaming? Two words: NFL+ Premium.
You can also stream NFL game replays in a condensed version that does not include the breaks and commercials. And you aren’t limited to this season’s games. Its library goes back to 2009 and includes more than just regular season games. You also get all preseason and playoff games — including the Super Bowl.
This is an excellent way for avid sports fans to watch every single play and even analyze the games with the Coaches Film feature.
Our NFL+ review has more information.
NFL RedZone is part of the NFL Network. It streamlines the process of watching all the Sunday afternoon games that occur at the same time. This channel makes it easy for fans who want all their football fix in one place.
And it is available through several streaming services: Fubo ($80.98/mo), Sling TV ($46/mo), Hulu + Live TV ($79.98/mo), Vidgo ($84.99/mo) and YouTube TV ($83.98/mo) all offer NFL RedZone as add-ons or premium packages (prices listed reflect the additional cost). It is also included with NFL+ Premium.
See our complete NFL RedZone review.
NFL Game Pass (Formerly NFL Game Pass International)
NFL Game Pass is a great option for NFL fans who are not in the USA, China, or Canada. All other countries can watch any of the games throughout the season, with three likely blackouts of games in the United Kingdom and Germany. These games will be available to watch on-demand after 24 hours.
NFL Game Pass is not available in Canada directly, but you can get it as part of a general sports streaming service, which is a great deal.
So if you live in Boston, but you left your heart in San Francisco, don’t despair. With the help of a VPN, you can still regularly tune into the 49ers. Yes, it’s a bit more work, but when you catch that big play of the year (or decade!) live, it’ll all be worth it.
Don’t let accidents of geography keep you from your team of choice. Install a VPN and never have to worry about out-of-market games again!
What happened to the NFL Game Pass?
Beginning with the 2022-23 season, the NFL eliminated its Game Pass service for US residents in favor of its new NFL+ service. The NFL Game Pass — what we used to call the NFL Game Pass International — is now only available to fans living outside the United States, Canada, and China.
Can I use NFL Sunday Ticket with a VPN?
Yes, you should have no problem using a VPN with NFL Sunday Ticket, whether you get it from YouTube or YouTube TV. What is considered out-of-market will depend upon where you are streaming from. This makes using a VPN with Sunday Ticket much easier than with NFL+ since you only need to stream from somewhere outside the markets of the two teams. It is much pricier, however.
Can I use a VPN to stream NFL Game Pass inside the US?
Possibly. You will have difficulties using a VPN with NFL Game Pass. Since the service is no longer distributed by NFL, we have received reports about issues making it work with a VPN from users who had no issues in the past. Based on chatter around the internet, some people have had some success, but it is (at best) finicky. Bear this in mind before you purchase a Game Pass subscription.
What streaming devices can I use my VPN on?
Most major ones, except Roku. The VPNs we’ve discussed support the vast majority of devices you may be streaming NFL games on. There is universal support for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. There is less support for Amazon Fire TV Stick or Cube, Apple TV, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.
One major exception is that Roku devices do not support VPNs at all. To use a VPN, you need to install it on your router. Most VPNs provide instructions on how to do this.
Will a VPN slow my streaming?
Yes, using a VPN will slow your streaming speed and, more importantly, your streaming latency. But as long as you use a quality VPN, you shouldn’t notice a problem. You should receive a high-quality and reliable signal. You may see a few seconds of lag in the signal, but this should be small compared to the normal broadcast lag compared to watching the game live onsite.
Is it legal to watch out-of-market NFL games with a VPN?
Yes, VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. However, the service you use to stream may have terms and conditions that limit the use of a VPN. NFL+ does mention possible regional restrictions, but it does not explicitly forbid the use of a VPN.
Can I use a free VPN to watch out-of-market NFL games?
You probably can, but you shouldn’t. We highly recommend avoiding sketchy free VPN services. But there are reliable VPNs available for free from established providers like ProtonVPN and AtlasVPN. You may find them useful. However, chances are they won’t provide the access that you are looking for.
First, they greatly limit the number of server locations. They may also limit your bandwidth, making them useless for hi-def live-streaming. And they likely lack the fast speeds of the pay-tiers of the provider or pay services from other providers.
Can I use a VPN to watch primetime games on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday nights?
We supposed you could, but we don’t understand why you would want to. Primetime games, unlike the mishmash on Sunday afternoons, are nationally televised. What you see on Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football in Boston is what you’ll see in Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, or Bismarck. Same thing with NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ABC/ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
VPNs are only useful when the only thing keeping you from being able to watch the Buffalo Bills game is your location and your TV provider geo-blocking you.
What are some of the major benefits of using a VPN?
The big one, as far as this article is concerned, is the ability to watch NFL teams you usually would not see much of where you live. But there are other reasons to use a VPN:
- Keeps all of your data private, whether from the websites you visit or from your Internet Service Provider.
- Protects your passwords, credit card information, bank credentials, and browsing habits from malicious attacks, especially on public networks.
- Masks your activity, so your connection can’t be slowed just because you’re streaming, gaming, or downloading files.
- Closes vulnerabilities while gaming online.
More Info on NFL Without Cable
If you still have questions, these resources should help:
- NFL Preseason
- NFL Regular Season
- Out-Of-Market Football Games
- NFL Playoffs
Ditch “Big Cable” Now – 3 Simple Steps to Cut the Cord
- Pick the right streaming service
- Get the content you deserve with the best VPN.
- Supercharge your internet provider
That’s it — you’ll save money, take back control, and enjoy TV more!
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