Few things beat the intense action of a good college football game. As a cord cutter, it used to be hard to watch college football online without giving up and buying a cable subscription. But that was then, and this is now. Today, there are several legal and affordable ways to access a college football live stream! So, you can now watch NCAA football online on you favorite devices and even free over-the-air. Learn more about how to stream college football in our detailed guide below.
Of course, all of the conferences now have their own TV deals, and that can make it a little difficult to find out exactly how to watch your favorite teams play. That’s why I put together this complete guide detailing all of your options for college football streaming and over-the-air viewing this season without cable TV.
Before I get into the specifics of how to watch college football online free and by subscription by conference, first let’s do a quick rundown of the different viewing options we’re going to be discussing, as there are quite a few different ways to stream college football without cable.
How to Watch College Football Live without Cable
- DIRECTV NOW—DIRECTV NOW is the newest streaming service on this list, and also one of our favorites. DIRECTV NOW offers live pay TV channels streaming to your devices, giving fans a great way to enjoy a college football live stream while also enjoying their favorite shows and movies. It starts at $35 a month for 60+ channels, but you can click here and try it free for 7 days. Key channels include ESPN (covers about 50% of ALL NCAA football games), ESPN2, ESPN3, FS1, FS2, regional sports networks, NBC/FOX in some areas, and much more. Also make sure to check out our DIRECTV NOW review for more info. Simply put, DIRECTV NOW gives you the most college football streams.
- Sling TV—This no-contract streaming service offers many different affordable packages to suit your needs, including its popular Sling Orange bundle that boasts over 25 live pay TV channels for $20 a month (click here for free 7-day trial and watch college football online free for a week). Most notably, you get the ESPN family of networks where nearly 50% of all college football games are shown, including bowl games, College Football Playoffs, and the National Championship. You get ESPN and ESPN2, as well as ESPN3 (which means you can live stream a ton of games on ESPN3 and ABC games as well, including Saturday Night Football). Pac-12 Network, ESPNU, SEC Network, Goal Line, Campus Insiders Network, and ESPNews can also be added to your package. Sling TV also now offers FS1, FS2, FOX and NBC (live in select markets), and regional FOX Sports Networks (depending on your location) for even more college football action. You can watch a college football live stream on your TV, phone, tablet, or computer. Read my Sling TV review here. Do you need even more reason to try out Sling TV? There’s currently a FREE 7-day trial for new members!
- fuboTV— fuboTV is a new streaming service designed specifically with sports fans in mind. It offers 60+ channels to watch live, most of which are sports. It does NOT include ESPN, unfortunately, but it does offer FOX, FS1, FS2, CBSSN, NBC, and more. It also offers CBSSN, which broadcasts a lot of NCAA football live streams, but the lack of ESPN is definitely a downside. Read more in our fuboTV review, or try it out for free with a 7-day free trial.
- Antenna—An antenna lets you view free over-the-air networks such as CBS, FOX, NBC, and ABC, where a number of featured games air each weekend throughout the season. If you don’t have an antenna, I recommend checking out our guide to choosing the best TV antenna. Worried about pausing or recording the live game without cable? Check out the Tablo DVR, which can also stream the game live to your connected devices.
- CBS All Access—If you live in one of the markets where CBS’ All Access streaming service offers a live stream of the local CBS network, you can stream live SEC games every Saturday this way. All Access is just $5.99 a month, and there’s a free 7-day trial to watch college football online free. Again, this is only useful for streaming college football if the game airs on CBS.
- PlayStation Vue—Sony’s new streaming service does carry FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, and some FOX Sports regional networks, as well as ESPN and ESPN2. However, Vue is more expensive than its competitors, with plans starting from $40 a month. But it still has college football streams for Sony lovers. Check out our full PlayStation Vue review for more info.
- ESPN3–ESPN3 is the network’s live digital channel that provides access to a number of live college football games in many conferences as well as some replays of games aired on the main ESPN channels. The station also simulcasts games that appear on ABC. You may be able to access ESPN3 for free through the WatchESPN app if your internet service is a participating provider. Sling TV also provides direct access to ESPN3. You can also access this app using your DIRECTV NOW, or PlayStation Vue login info.
How To Watch College Football Online by Conference
There are a lot of different ways to watch college football without cable, but the best options vary depending on what conference your favorite team is in. Want to skip ahead to find out about watching your favorite team or conference online with legal CFB streams? The links below will bring you to detailed information on the best ways to watch your favorite conferences college football live stream without a cable subscription!
- American Athletic
- Big 12
- Big Ten
- Conference USA
- FBS Independents
- Mid American (MAC)
- Mountain West
- Sun Belt
The American Athletic Conference recently signed a multi-year television contract with ESPN to telecast its football games through 2019-2020. The contract provides national coverage of the entire conference and ESPN’s coverage will replace previous syndication and local telecasts. Any conference-controlled games, games including two conference teams or games when a conference team is the home team, will be televised on one of the ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ABC, and ESPNU).
All of the conference games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 will be accessible with a DIRECTV NOW subscription, which will run you $35 a month for 60+ channels with no contract. You can also get ESPNU and ESPNEWS via the service in some packages. You can even use your DIRECTV NOW login info to access the WatchESPN App, which will let you stream games that air on ESPN3 and other ESPN-owned networks. There’s a free 7-day trial available.
You can also watch AAC games online with a basic Sling Orange subscription for just $20 per month. Any college football streams on ESPNU and ESPNews can be seen if you add on the Sports Extra package to your Sling subscription for an additional $5 a month. The conference stated the minimum number of telecasts on ESPN networks will be greater than its previous telecast agreement. So, you should be able to catch a solid amount of games throughout the season including the conference rivalry games.
Remember, Sling TV offers a free 7-day trial, so this a great way to watch college football online and test out everything the streaming service has to offer.
Later in the season, the American Athletic Conference championship game will be carried by ESPN or ABC on Championship Saturday. If it does happen to be televised on ABC, an antenna would be a great option for catching the game.
Vue also offers ESPN and ESPN2 in its channel lineup, but their basic package starts at $39.99 per month, so this is a more expensive option than DIRECTV NOW or Sling TV to stream college football and for watching American Athletic Conference football online.
The ACC maintains a broadcast agreement with ESPN. Their contract will last through 2026-2027 and makes DIRECTV NOW a good option for streaming college football teams in the ACC (especially since you can try it free for 7 days). DIRECTV NOW provides the ESPN family of networks, and also gives access to the WatchESPN app (which you can use to watch games that air on ACC Network, ABC and ESPN3).
Sling TV a another great option for watching some ACC games online. All of the games on ESPN’s various networks will be available to easily watch online with Sling. Some games may also broadcast over-the-air on ABC, which you can watch free if you have an antenna. Note, you can also watch ABC games on ESPN3, which Sling gives you access to, or live on ABC in the select markets Sling TV carries it in.
Vue also carries ESPN channels in its streaming service, but the service’s basic package is significantly more expensive than the competition.
Our ACC live stream guide has more details about how to stream all your favorite teams from the conference.
The Big 12 has TV contracts with ABC/ESPN and FOX through 2024-2025 for its football games. Big 12 games will be broadcast on both over-the-air networks, ABC and FOX, and cable channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FCS, and FOX Sports 1.
DIRECTV NOW is a great option to watch NCAA football online and catch a bunch of Big 12 games. With the basic package, you have access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3/ABC, FOX, FS1, FS, and regional FOX Sports networks, all of which will broadcast a wide array of games this upcoming season. You can also get ESPNU and a few other great sports channels with in some packages.
Sling TV also carries most of these channels and more in its packages, and will be another good way to watch Big 12 games online.
The over-the-air games on ABC and FOX can be caught with an antenna. The Mohu Leaf 50 is my recommended antenna. It’s an ultra-thin option with a 50-mile reception range. Alternatively, you could use a service like fuboTV to catch the FOX games.
Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming service will allow you to catch Big 12 games on various FOX Sports pay TV and ESPN networks, provided you have the right plan. It’s more expensive than the competition, though.
Check out our complete guide to Big 12 streaming for more info.
The Big Ten has broadcast agreements with ESPN. Big Ten also recently struck an agreement with FOX, which means over the next year more Big Ten coverage will shift to FS1 and other FOX Networks. Some games will also air on ABC/ESPN3.
DIRECTV NOW will be your best option to stream college football for Big Ten teams. The service offers ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN3, FS1, FS2, and even FOX/regional sports channels in some areas. Also, DIRECTV NOW carries Big Ten Network, which is a must-have for fans of Big 10 teams.
Sling TV will be another option for streaming Big Ten games during the season. Sling’s basic Orange package is just $20 per month and provides subscribers’ access to ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 via live streams. FOX channels are available, too, but in a different package. PlayStation Vue is another option, but it’s more expensive.
Conference USA offers a multitude of viewing options for the upcoming season, but it’s admittedly one of the most complicated conferences to navigate viewing options for. However, due to multiple network agreements, you can catch a sizable amount of games even without a cable subscription.
DIRECTV NOW will be one of your best options to watch Conference USA games online. The service offers ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3/ABC streams, and Conference USA has agreements in place to broadcast some games throughout the season on the ESPN networks. At the end of the season, the C-USA Championship game will air on either ESPN or ESPN2. You may also be able to access ESPN3 for free if you get your high-speed internet through a verified provider.
Conference USA also maintains a television agreement with FOX Sports. Any games broadcasted on FOX’s main over-the-air channel will be accessible via an antenna. FOX and FOX Sports Regionals are also available on DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, in select areas.
Notre Dame will have its entire lineup of home games broadcast on NBC for the 2017-2018 season. DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV, PS Vue and Sling TV now carry NBC live streaming in select markets. Of course, NBC is also a free over-the-air network. This means another method of watching the Fighting Irish will be with an antenna. The antenna will pick up NBC’s over-the-air broadcast and allow you watch the games for free without a cable subscription.
BYU will broadcast some of its home games on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC). The school has an agreement to broadcast an annual minimum of three home games on the ESPN networks and a minimum of one home game broadcasted on ESPNU. The best way to watch BYU will be with a subscription to DIRECTV NOW. For just $35 per month, you get to stream ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 (via WatchESPN), NBC (select markets), and much more. 60+ channels are included in total.
Army football home games are aired on the CBS Sports Network. The best way to watch CBSSN online is with fuboTV, a $35/month, non-contract sports streaming service that also offers NBC, FOX, regional sports networks, FS1, FS2 and more. CBSSN is also coming to DIRECTV NOW soon.
The Mid-American Conference signed a 13-year media rights contract with ESPN through 2026-2027. This means ESPN will broadcast MAC conference games on its wide array of networks.
You can also get MAC football coverage with PlayStation Vue since they too offer the ESPN networks. However, Vue’s basic package is more expensive than the competitors.
ESPN and the Mountain West have agreements for the network to broadcast up to 16 Mountain West football games and the conference’s annual championship game every season through 2019-2020. Also, ESPN has broadcasting rights for every Boise State home game.
DIRECTV NOW allows you to watch Mountain West teams in action. When you sign up for the basic package, you’ll receive streaming access to ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. You may also be able to access ESPN3 for free through your high-speed internet provider on the WatchESPN app.
Sling TV also offers these networks. PS Vue also offers ESPN networks to let you watch Mountain West football, but it comes at a higher price point.
Twitter also recently made a deal with Campus Insiders. This will allow free streaming of select Montain West games all season, beginning with the Thursday season opener.
Approximately 45 Pac-12 games will be broadcast across ESPN’s and FOX’s family of networks. This gives you multiple methods of access to one of the most exciting conferences in college football.
Sling TV will be your best option, because it is the only way to get the Pac-12 Network online! This is available with the Sports Extra add-on package, which gives you access to all 6 regional feeds. Subscribers also get access to ESPN and ESPN2, as well as ESPN3. The service costs just $20 per month and provides access to over 25 channels normally not accessible without a cable package. For $5 extra a month, you can tack on the Sports Extra package and get Pac-12 Network, ESPNU and a number of other college football channels. FOX and FOX affiliates are also available from Sling in some areas and in some packages.
You can also use DIRECTV NOW for the NCAA Football live stream, as it includes the ESPN and FOX family of networks. However, it does not include Pac-12 Network, so at this point Sling is a better option.
Vue also carries ESPN and ESPN2 in its channel lineup. It’s more expensive than Sling TV but may still be worth a look depending on your specific wants.
If you don’t have Sling TV, Vue, or cable TV, you may still be able to access games on ESPN3 for free by logging in through your high-speed internet provider. Additionally, PlayStation Vue users can access any games that air on FOX Sports pay TV networks, provided they live in the right area and are subscribed to the appropriate package.
An antenna is another good option for catching multiple Pac-12 games throughout the year. The featured games broadcast on FOX’s main over-the-air channel and ABC (also on WatchESPN) will be available free with an antenna. The conference championship game may be broadcast on ABC (or ESPN) as well.
While Twitter has made a deal with the Pac-12, please note that it doesn’t allow for college football streaming.
DIRECTV NOW will provide great college football live stream access to both ESPN-broadcasted games and games on the SEC Network. DIRECTV NOW’s basic $35/month package includes ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3, along with 60+ other networks. SEC Network and ESPNU are also included in a larger package, and CBS is available in some areas. With DIRECTV NOW you can catch almost every SEC game throughout the year.
CBS will also be airing select SEC games this season on its free over-the-air network. They offer an SEC Game of the Week nearly every Saturday and a few SEC doubleheaders. These usually feature the top SEC teams, since CBS typically has first pick of which games it will air. You can watch SEC football Game of the Week free on CBS with your antenna. DIRECTV NOW also offers CBS in some areas.
If you want to stream the SEC games that air on CBS, you can do so with their All Access service, provided you live in one of the markets where live streaming is available. Click here to start a free 7-day trial of CBS All Access.
You may also be able to get ESPN3 for free if your high-speed internet provider is a participating service.
Sun Belt recently signed a TV agreement through the 2019-2020 academic year with ESPN. The deal will give Sun Belt a minimum of two games on ESPN or ESPN2 and a minimum of five games on ESPNU during the season, making ESPN the exclusive pay TV provider for Sun Belt football.
DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV are both good options for watching Sun Belt games online throughout the season. Both services offer the ESPN family of networks, as well as tons of other general channels for the whole family.
PlayStation Vue also carries these channels live streaming in its lineup, but it is a bit costlier than the competitors.
If any Sun Belt games air on ESPN3 this season, you can watch live and on-demand for free if you use a participating high-speed internet service.
What Channel are NCAA Football Games On?
The NCAA College Football TV schedule can be a bit complex, as there are many different channels that cover the action. Depending on the conference and team, the college football game stream could air on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBSSN, BTN, Pac-12 Network, ACC Network, SEC Network, or your regional sports network. No single streaming service provides all of these networks, but to get most of them we recommend going with DIRECTV NOW (which offers a free 7-day trial).
Check Out Our Conference Guides
Have any questions about how to watch college football online? Leave a comment below, and I’ll help you find the best way to get the NCAA football live stream for your favorite team(s).