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Published on September 6th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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Your definitive Apple TV guide to watching NFL 2018

With the beginning of the 99th National Football League season tonight, Apple TV users have more ways to watch the action than ever before as the league is expanding its reach with more coverage through streaming devices.

The NFL and various broadcasters have expanded mobile coverage considerably, but we will avoid those platforms and in this story stick with your options for Apple TV only. As for watching on Apple TV, the options can get complicated. So here’s a rundown…

What games are being played?

The 2018 regular season’s 256 games will be played over a 17-week schedule that begins with Atlanta at Philadelphia tonight on NBC. An entire schedule by week is available at this link.

As for what main affiliate network is broadcasting a match weekly on Sundays, 506Sports.com is a great, one-stop shop to find out what game is being broadcast in your area. 

Who’s broadcasting games?

Affiliate networks broadcasting NFL games this season will include NBC, CBS, and Fox. Games on those networks will be available through their affiliates via over-the-air (OTA) antennas, through cable and satellite providers, streaming directly through the apps of those networks, and live streaming services offering local affiliates like DirecTV Now, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, Fubo TV, Playstation Vue, and YouTube TV. 

As for CBS, local affiliate games are also available through the CBS All Access app on Apple TV for $6 a month, or $10 a month without advertising.

Sunday Night Football games will be on NBC through its local affiliates, the NBCSN streaming app (beginning this year, a pay TV subscription or TV provider login is NOT required for NFL viewing), and live streaming services like those listed above. 

ESPN’s Monday Night Football games can be found through the Watch ESPN app on Apple TV (beginning this year, a pay TV subscription or TV provider login is NOT required for NFL viewing), and live streaming services like those listed above. If your hometown team is playing on Monday Night, the game will also simulcast to one of your local broadcast networks.

Thursday Night Football broadcasts are complicated. 11 games will simulcast on FOX, NFL Network, and Amazon Prime with two games exclusively on NFL Network. A full TNF schedule is available here.

Amazon Prime Video app, which costs $119 annually, will broadcast TNF games with the first being the Sept. 27 matchup of the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings.

Not an Amazon Prime member? Those same games will be available for free on the video game-centric streaming service Twitch, which is not available on Apple TV, but third-party alternatives, like Twitchy for the device, will easily solve the problem.

Free over-the-air TV via Apple TV

If you live in an area with good reception, you can get NFL games for free on over-the-air broadcast channels affiliated with NBC, CBS, and Fox. The key to watching them on your Apple TV is attaching an affordable indoor or outdoor antenna from companies like Antennas Direct, Mohu, Channel Master, and others, and then to a TV antenna-ready DVR. The DVR then can stream to multiple televisions on your Apple TV through your home WiFi.

Options for Apple TV-ready DVRs include those from Tablo, and SiliconDust with its HD HomeRun solution.

DirecTV Now…The special NFL Sunday Ticket deal for some

AT&T owns the satellite service DirecTV and the streaming service DirecTV Now, but doesn’t offer its NFL Sunday Ticket to everyone on the streaming service. If you don’t know by now, NFL Sunday Ticket is a football lovers dream – at $294 a season – offering every game live on Sunday from every market along with its own, separate RedZone channel.

But now DirecTV Now subscriber in one of seven markets – the Los Angeles area, Phoenix, Boston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Hartford, or Louisville – can subscribe IF you have the Just Right package ($55 monthly) or higher. There’s no website that details this offer, so customers in those markets will either need to look for an email that might have been sent to you, or call DirecTV Now customer service and inquire.

RedZone is another great option

NFL RedZone also offers live, commercial-free look-ins all afternoon Sunday into games around the league, making it a great way to keep tabs on several games all at once. It’s rapid-fire football action of every great play and touchdown.

RedZone is not offered as a standalone app on Apple TV, but is available through the live streaming services Sling TV, Playstation Vue, and Fubo TV. Check each streaming service for the price and what programming package is required for viewing.

Another alternative to getting RedZone and so much more is subscribing to the streaming service, NFL GamePass for $99 a year. While it won’t broadcast live, individual games, it does offer NFL Network on a 24/7 basis, RedZone on Sunday’s, and complete game replays every Monday. Additionally, it is sold internationally to those outside the U.S. who want more complete coverage.

 

 

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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