The Super Bowl is coming and this NFL season has been one of change when it comes to how you watch your games and all the various services you must join to watch the games you want.
It might be more expensive than ever, whether you're trying to follow your team that is based in a city you're not or if you just want to catch every NFL game.
Let's take a look at the services you need to watch the games and how much its costing you in 2024 and beyond.
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Total cost to watch every NFL game in a season
Finance Buzz conducted a recent survey on streaming services and found that 24% of respondents pay for three or more streaming services. That tracks with those wanting to watch a lot of football.
The NFL signed contracts to broadcast games during the regular season with the following outlets:
- ESPN/ABC - Exclusively airs Monday night football.
- Prime Video – Thursday night football.
- The NFL Network
- YouTube TV has the Sunday Night Ticket exclusive, allowing you to watch every regular season game during the day on Sunday.
Out of those providers, CBS, Fox, NBC, and ABC are the only networks that can be watched if using a TV antenna. And you'll only be able to watch whichever game is slotted for your local area.
So if you want to catch the whole season, you're signing up for a number of services. First, your median cost of a cable subscription services is around $90. Then, YouTube TV has exclusive rights to Sunday games, that’s around $80. Add an Amazon Prime subscription at $8.99 a month so you can watch every game that’s played during the week, and you’re looking at a minimum of $200 a month to just watch football. If you want to the games and get in-depth analysis, that’s an additional $11 a month for ESPN+.
So, here is the total it might cost you:
- The monthly football pot is about $220 if you include taxes and fees.
- For the regular season, that's a total cost of $880.
- It could be up to $1,320 for the season including playoffs (depending on what services you need for January and February).
- Just buying NFL Sunday Ticket, by itself, Amazon Prime, and Peacock for exclusive NBC games, will cost you a total of around $505 until the playoffs begin. Then you'll have to spend money on a local TV solution to get all of the playoffs and the Super Bowl for two months, at an additional charge. Using Sling TV as the solution, that's an additional $80 for a total of $585. That might be the most cost-effective solution.
The only way to keep more cash in your wallet by watching for free is to go to sports bars. The only problem with that is you must buy food or drink to stay there, and you won't be guaranteed that the games will be on unless you're just trying to watch your local team.
How much does each platform cost specifically?
There are three ways to watch football games: regular TV using an antenna, cable television, and streaming services.
The NFL spreads out teams across all of their exclusive partnerships, allowing them to play on Mondays, Thursdays, and a variety of networks on Sundays. The Super Bowl itself will be broadcast on Paramount+, nickelodeon, and CBS. This essentially means you have to be a part of many services just to watch your team play, much less if you want to catch other big games.
Here is how the costs of your options break down.
Cable TV subscriptions
Xfinity, Dish, Optimum, and Spectrum are the top cable providers in the country. Each offers a basic and premier package, but the costs of these packages can vary by area, whether you catch a special offer, and how long you've been a member of each.
- Optimum monthly packages range from $35 for basic cable, $85 (includes ESPN, Disney, and HGTV) to $125 a month (includes NFL Network, ESPNU, CMT, HBO, STARZ, and Showtime).
- Xfinity has monthly subscriptions that range from $20 for a basic package to $68.50 for 185+ channels and premium channels.
- Dish cable subscriptions run from $84.99 to $114.99.
- Spectrum charges $59.99 for basic cable. Add the Sports View for $7 monthly to watch the NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NBA TV, and MLB Network.
It seems difficult to watch every NFL game without some form of streaming platform, especially since Amazon Prime has exclusive rights to Thursday night games. The most popular services that offer live TV are Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, and DirectTV.
- YouTube TV’s $73-a-month basic package includes ESPN and the NFL Network. The Sports Plus package is an additional $10.99 a month. It has 19 channels including NFL RedZone. They exclusively stream NFL Sunday Ticket – out-of-market games. That costs $449 for the season, or $349 if you subscribe to YouTube TV.
- Hulu with live TV is $77 a month and includes ESPN Plus. The sports package is $9.99 and includes NFL RedZone.
- Sling TV’s Orange plan includes 7 sports channels, including ESPN, ESPN 2, and 3 for $40 a month. The $ 11-a-month sports package includes BeIn Sports, FOX Sports, and NBC in select markets.
- DirectTV’s $14 monthly Sports Pack add-on includes college sports, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone. Their streaming packages start at $69.99.
- Amazon Prime Video is $8.99 a month as a standalone product, or $14.99 per month if you buy all of Amazon Prime. There isn’t an additional fee to watch Thursday Night Football with either plan.
- Paramount+ streams all live CBS shows on its platform. Their Paramount+ Essential package at $5.99 a month includes NFL on CBS.
- Peacock’s Premium plan is $4.99 a month and includes Sunday Night Football.
- ESPN+, while not a streaming service, can be added to any of them for an additional $10.99 per month to any streaming service or cable subscription.
It’s become difficult to keep home entertainment budgets in check. Netflix, Hulu, and a few other subscription services created tiered rates: one fee with ads, and a higher fee without them. Then there are the exclusives, like Thursday Night Football that are used to expand membership.
Plus, according to the same survey we referenced above, nearly 70% of those with a streaming service have forgotten to cancel it once they no longer need it. Keeping all the services above could cost you at least $220 extra just for one month.
It may be that the trend to spend more money on home entertainment than going out is here to stay. Especially, when it comes to watching professional football, which continues to be the most-watched program on any platform. You might find yourself needing to get ahead financially now so you can afford what you want next season.
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