The 2016 college football season has been a great one, and it’s sure to end on a high note with plenty of drama. 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 more legal and affordable ways to access a college football live stream so you can watch NCAA football online on you favorite devices and even free over-the-air.
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. And now that bowl season is here, don’t forget to check out our college bowl game schedule and streaming guide.
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.
Top Ways to Stream College Football
- 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 20 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 access to 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 (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? If you’re a T-Mobile customer, then you can get Sling TV on your qualifying mobile device for as little as $14 a month — that’s a savings of 30%. Watch all of your favorite college teams wherever you are and you can cancel whenever you want. This deal is good for up to 12 months, so you won’t have to worry about missing a thing! Learn more about this great offer here. Simply put, Sling TV gives you the most college football streams.
- DIRECTV NOW—DIRECTV NOW is the newest streaming service on this list, launching at the end of November 2016. Like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now offers live pay TV channels streaming to your devices, giving fans another way to enjoy a college football live stream. There’s no satellite required and you can cancel at any time. While the service is new and new features and device compatibility are being added all the time, DIRECTV NOW is still a really impressive offering for those looking for a large channel selection. It starts at $35 a month, but you can click here and try it free for 7 days. Also make sure to check out our DIRECTV NOW review for more info.
- 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 86 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.
- 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 Sling TV, doesn’t offer Apple TV support, and comes with strict mobile streaming restrictions that block you from watching college football online away from your home network. 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.
How To Watch College Football Online by Conference
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 basic Sling TV 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 $29.99-$39.99 depending on your location, so this is a more expensive option than 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 Sling TV a 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.
DIRECTV NOW also carries these channels, and while its price point is a bit higher than Sling TV’s, it offers a bigger selection of channels. So it may be worth checking out for some sports fans and trying free for 7 days.
Vue also carries ESPN channels in its streaming service, but the service’s basic package is significantly more expensive than Sling’s.
Your other option, CBS College Sports Live carries a few of the teams within the conference as well. The college football streaming service begins at just $9.95 per month and is a great way to catch select ACC games as well as a wide array of games in other conferences. In the ACC, CBS has agreements with Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Virginia to stream some of their games throughout the season, so make sure to check the broadcast schedule the College Sports Live site to see which games will be available.
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.
Sling TV is a great option to watch NCAA football online and catch a bunch of Big 12 games. With Sling TV’s Orange package, you have access to ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3/ABC, 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 Sling TV’s Sports Extra package for an additional $5 a month. Sling TV also carries FOX, FS1, FS, and regional FOX Sports networks in its Blue package.
DIRECTV NOW also carries all of these channels and more in its packages. The service starts at $35 a month, but really does offer a big selection of channels for that price point.
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.
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.
CBS College Sports Live has deals with Baylor, Kansas St, TCU, and Texas Tech to offer live audio and video streams of select games throughout the season. The service starts at $9.95 per month and includes over 70 other teams across most major conferences. Check the broadcast schedule on the CBS website to see which Big 12 games will be available for streaming.
Check out our complete guide to Big 12 streaming for more info.
Sling TV will be the best option for catching the most 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. The Big Ten has broadcast agreements with ESPN, which means a large amount of games should be available for live streaming if you do have the Sling TV subscription. Some games will also air on ABC, which you can get live in many markets with Sling TV, free with an antenna, or on ESPN3. Depending on your internet provider, you may be able to access ESPN3 content free without Sling TV or a cable TV login through the WatchESPN app.
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. You can find these networks on Sling’s Blue Package.
College Sports Live, offered by CBS, offers a subscription starting at $9.95 per month and should be a decent option to catch some Big Ten games. Nine teams in the conference have agreements with College Sports Live: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue. Throughout the season, these teams will had live audio or video streams available on College Sports Live for some select games. Check CBS’s broadcast schedule to see which games will be available!
Looking for the Big Ten Network? If you don’t have a cable login for BTN2Go, then the middle tier package from PlayStation Vue is currently your only option, as it carries the network. The package starts at $34.99 in most markets, but bumps up to $44.99 in markets with locals.
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.
Sling TV will be one of your best options to catch Conference USA games. 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. beIn Sports also will broadcast 10 Conference USA games this year. You can gain access to this channel with the Sports Extra package on Sling.
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. Games on FOX Sports regional cable channels may be accessible with PlayStation Vue, provided you get the right package.
CBS College Sports Live may broadcast certain audio and video live streams throughout the season. Some Conference USA games, among many other conference games, are available starting at $9.95 per month. To find out when your preferred teams or conferences will be broadcast, check out College Sports Live’s broadcasting schedule on their website.
Notre Dame will have its entire lineup of home games broadcast on NBC for the 2016-2017 season. Sling TV now carries 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 Sling TV. For just $20 per month, you get to stream ESPN and ESPN2 as well as over 20 other popular pay TV channels. You also get access to ESPN3, which broadcasts ABC games. It’s also worth nothing that you can just add the complete ABC live local channel to your package in many markets. To gain access to ESPNU broadcasts, you can get the $5-per-month add-on Sports Extra Package. Sling has no contract and can be canceled at any time.
Army football home games are aired on the CBS Sports Network. This means some of their games may be broadcast on CBS College Sports Live. The service has packages beginning at $9.95 a month and has agreements with over 70 schools. The best way to check if your favorite teams will have either an audio or video stream on College Sports Live is to go to the CBS website and check the broadcasting schedule. Additionally, if you are US military personnel, you can get a free college football live stream of all Army games.
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.
Sling TV provides easy access to ESPN and ESPN2 for just $20 per month. Some games may be broadcast on ESPN3, which can be accessed at no extra charge on Sling TV.
You can also get MAC football coverage with PlayStation Vue since they too offer the ESPN networks However, Vue’s basic package will run you $10-$20 more than Sling TV, depending on your location.
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.
Sling TV 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.
Vue also offers ESPN networks to let you watch Mountain West football, but it comes at a higher price point and has some mobile streaming restrictions that block you from watching away from home.
During the season, Wyoming may have a few select games streamed on CBS College Sports Live. Wyoming and over 70 other schools in just about every conference will have audio and video streams of select live games throughout the year on the service. The starting price for College Sports Live is $9.95. Check out its broadcast schedule to find out when your favorite teams will be available for live streaming.
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 on 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 20 channels normally not accessible without a cable package. For $5 extra a month, you can tack on the Sports Extra package and get ESPNU and a number of other college football channels.
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.
Sling TV will provide great college football live stream access to both ESPN-broadcasted games and games on the SEC Network. Sling’s basic $20-per-month, 20-channel package gives live streams of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. For an additional $5 per month, Sling’s Sports Extra package provides full streaming access to the SEC Network, ESPNU, and several other great channels. This means for just $25 per month you can catch almost every SEC game throughout the year.
CBS will also be airing 17 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.
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.
Finally CBS College Sports Live, a live streaming service starting at $9.95 per month, may be making some SEC games available via live audio or video stream. Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Ole Miss may all offer games on College Sports Live. Check the broadcast schedule on the website to see what games will be available on the college football streaming 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.
Sling TV is one option for watching Sun Belt games online throughout the season. Its basic package that costs just $20 per month will allow you to watch ESPN and ESPN2 (along with about 20 other popular channels) and provide you access to ESPN3. For an additional $5 a month, you can get the Sports Extra package, which includes ESPNU and a few other great sports channels.
PlayStation Vue also carries these channels live streaming in its lineup, but it is a bit costlier than Sling TV.
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.
Check Out Our Conference Guides
Have any questions about how to watch college football online? Contact me using the form below, and I’ll help!
Mr. Cable Cutter
Latest posts by Mr. Cable Cutter (see all)
- What is DIRECTV NOW? Review, Cost, Channels List, Free Trial Info, More - January 18, 2017
- How to Legally Watch ESPN Online (Even Free!) without a Cable Subscription - January 12, 2017
- OTA DVR Comparison for Cord Cutters: Best OTA DVRs of 2017 - January 10, 2017