Cutting cable doesn’t mean cutting the NFL Playoffs
After 17 weeks of amazing victories and crushing defeats, the NFL playoffs are on the horizon. You don’t need to have a hefty cable bill and contract in order to watch them though. You can watch the games on the four major networks, but there’s multiple ways to get them without a cable subscription. We’ll show you the different services and hardware you can choose from as well as give our recommendation for the best ones.
2018 NFL Playoff Schedule
Before we figure out the best options to stream the 2018 NFL playoffs, let’s first look at the schedule of games and what channel they are on. All times listed below are in Eastern time.
Wild Card Schedule
Sunday, January 7th.
- Buffalo Bills versus Jacksonville Jaguars (home). 1:05pm on CBS
- Carolina Panthers versus New Orleans Saints (home). 4:40pm on FOX
Divisional Playoffs Schedule
Saturday, January 13th
- Philadelphia Eagles (home) versus Atlanta Falcons. 4:35pm on NBC
- Tennessee Titans versus New England Patriots (home). 8:15pm on CBS
Sunday, January 14th
- Jacksonville Jaguars versus Pittsburgh Steelers (home). 1:05pm on CBS
- New Orleans Saints versus Minnesota Vikings (home). 4:40pm on FOX
Conference Championship Schedule
Sunday, January 21st
- AFC Championship. 3:05pm on CBS
- NFC Championship. 6:40pm on FOX
We will try and update this article as game results come in, but for a guarenteed up to date schedule, visit this link.
Sunday, February 4th
- AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion. 6:30pm on NBC
You can view our guide to watch the 2018 Super Bowl without cable for more specific information about the Super Bowl.
What service do I need to stream the NFL playoffs?
Now that we’ve listed the schedule of games, we can figure out what services we need. According to the schedule above, we need access to CBS, FOX, and NBC to stream all of the NFL playoff games as well as the Super Bowl. There are a few different packages that offer these channels and we’ll list them in order from lowest price to highest.
Watch NFL playoff games on DirecTV Now
DirecTV Now is a streaming service similar to Netflix or Hulu, but allows you to stream cable networks live. It offers 4 main “core” packages to choose from and a few premium channels you can add-on. Each package has a different channel line up, but for just getting access to the NFL playoffs, there’s no point in paying extra for more channels than you need.
DirecTV Now’s lowest tier package is their “Live a Little” package. It costs $35 a month and will give you access to all three networks that you need for NFL games. With over 60 channels, the Live a Little package is one of the best services you can get on a channel per dollar ratio and not just in terms of DirecTV Now’s offers. It’s less customizable than something like Sling TV, but it offers quality channels in all of its packages. The channels included in the “Live a Little” package are as follows:
DirecTV Now “Live a Little”
The white colored logos are what are actually included in the Live a Little packages. The grayed out ones are available through DirecTV Now’s other three core packages that we mentioned earlier. Those packages cost $50, $60, or $70 and add about 20 channels each. You can read more about DirecTV Now’s streaming services and view their complete channel line-up in our comprehensive DirecTV Now guide and review.
Watch NFL playoff games on YouTube
When comparing the price of streaming services that give you access to CBS, FOX, and NBC, YouTube and DirecTV Now are perfectly even. YouTube also costs $35 a month and includes the three channels you need. However, we opted to put DirecTV Now ahead of YouTube TV in this article because DirecTV Now gives you more channels overall. For the same $35 a month, you get an extra 20 channels included in your service. The channels included in YouTube Tv are below.
One major difference between DirecTV Now and YouTube TV is YouTube’s DVR. DirecTV Now doesn’t have any DVR capabilities (although there is rumor that they will sometime early this year) while YouTube boasts one of the better ones in the industry. YouTube allows unlimited DVR storage and will retain any recordings for up to nine months. Sling TV offers cloud DVR for an additional $5 a month but its 50 hours of recording fails to compare to YouTube’s. DirecTV Now, with no option for DVR, falls even further behind the content giant. You’ll be able to have up to 6 subscribers on one YouTube TV account and can run up to three of them at the same time.
For anyone who knows YouTube, you’ll know you’re getting a streaming service you can count on. YouTube also boasts a fantastic search function as you could expect from a Google product. It’s also a relatively newcoming to the cord cutting game and you can expect it to continue to grow and improve.
What device do I need to run these services?
DirecTV Now and YouTube TV both run on a large number of devices. Choosing the right one is going to be determined by how you want to watch the games. They all have their pros and cons, but for simplicity sake we generally recommend a Roku as the go-to. It’s a major player in the streaming industry and is simple to set up and incredibly reliable. It supports a large number of services too so you’ll know you can run anything if you decide to change or add a service in the future. Keep in mind though that you’ll need a separate Roku device for each TV that you want to watch the NFL playoffs on. If not, you’ll have to move your Roku whenever you switch to a different TV.
The following devices support both DirecTV Now and YouTube TV.
Devices that require you to “cast” them to a TV
- Android Phones
- iOS Devices
- Windows Computer
Devices that stream directly to a TV
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast (requires you to “cast” the content from a phone, tablet, or desktop)
- Amazon Fire TV
Other streaming options for the NFL playoffs
We only listed DirecTV Now and YouTube TV because they are the cheapest options for the NFL playoffs. If you’d prefer a different service (or already have one) and want to know if you can watch the NFL playoffs with them, the following services also include FOX, NBC, and CBS.
Hulu Live TV – $39.99 /mo
Playstation Vue “Access Package” – $39.99 /mo
fuboTV Premier – $44.99 /mo
Besides those additional three, you can also get the bigger packages for each service. They’ll include additional channels for an increase in cost, but they still include the content from the smaller versions.