Vikings versus Lions. Ohio State versus Michigan. Alabama versus Auburn. It’s Thanksgiving week football (college or pro) — and this year, you won’t need a TV to watch almost all of it.
There is an increasing number of cord cutters who love football, but don’t love fat cable bills. That’s taken a toll on pay-TV companies, and football ratings as a result.
But more and more streaming services have come online in recent years and are winning over disenchanted subscribers – and sports leagues are noticing. The NFL has a deal with Amazon to stream several Thursday Night Football games, and the league broadcast a game on Verizon’s Yahoo earlier this year.
This holiday weekend, almost every football game of note is easily available to those without cable. Now that is definitely something to be thankful for!
Here’s a quick guide to watching some of this weekend’s games online:
Vikings at Lions (12:30 pm ET, FOX)
Chargers at Cowboys (4:30 pm ET, CBS)
Giants at Redskins (8:30 pm ET, NBC)
CBS, Fox and NBC are also available on practically every major streaming service, including YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Fubo TV, with varying local markets and degrees of coverage.
It’s best to go to their sites to check which channels are available in which cities, but fans in major markets and an increasing number of not-so-major ones can get those three broadcast networks without a cable subscription or antenna.
CBS is also available direct-to-consumer with its CBS All Access product, which costs $5.99/month for a commercial-lite package and $9.99 a month for commercial free (although live broadcasts of local affiliates – where football games will be aired – still have commercial breaks).
There’s one huge catch, though: with Verizon having exclusive mobile rights to the NFL, cord-cutters can’t stream NFL games on CBS or Fox on non-Verizon Wireless mobile devices. Verizon customers can stream the games using the NFL Mobile app, but fans with other carriers are out of luck.
Mississippi at (14) Mississippi State (7:30 pm ET, ESPN)
For those who prefer the college game (or if the end of the battle between the Chargers and Cowboys isn’t particularly compelling), the two Mississippi schools will face off in the annual Egg Bowl. Mississippi State, which is still in the hunt for a major bowl bid, will be going for its ninth win of the year.
The game is on ESPN and streamable on the WatchESPN app for pay-TV subscribers, as well as on most major standalone streaming services, including YouTube TV and Sling’s Orange package. And unlike NFL games, there’s no restrictions in streaming college football on mobile devices.
(2) Miami at Pittsburgh (noon ET, ABC)
South Florida at (15) Central Florida (3:30 pm ET, ABC)
There’s a relatively light slate of games Friday, but the Miami Hurricanes — on track for a meeting with No. 3 Clemson next week — face a tricky game at Pittsburgh, which tripped up then-undefeated Clemson late last season. Later that day, Central Florida tries to stay undefeated and in line for a New Year’s Day bowl game when the Knights take on rival South Florida.
(9) Ohio State at Michigan (noon ET, FOX)
(1) Alabama at (6) Auburn (3:30 pm ET, CBS)
(8) Notre Dame at (21) Stanford (8 pm ET, ABC)
Saturday’s three marquee matchups — the first two pitting longtime rivals against each other and the last featuring potential Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love of Stanford — are spread across the three broadcast networks and in three different time slots, meaning college football fans don’t have to choose. Michigan recently fell out of the top 25, giving its battle with Ohio State a bit less luster, but Jim Harbaugh versus Urban Meyer is always worth watching. Later that day, Alabama looks to hold off hated Auburn in the Iron Bowl, while Notre Dame attempts to keep its playoff hopes alive against Stanford in the nightcap.
Dolphins at Patriots (1 pm ET, CBS)
Bills at Chiefs (1 pm ET, CBS)
Bears at Eagles (1 pm ET, Fox)
Saints at Rams (4:25 pm ET, CBS)
Packers at Steelers (8:30 pm ET, NBC)
The long weekend ends with a lighter-than-usual Sunday NFL slate, given the three Thanksgiving Day games. And while last week was full of marquee matchups like the clash of unlikely division leaders Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings and the NFC East rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, Thanksgiving Sunday is more subdued.
L.A.s’ second-newest football team will take center stage, as the Rams return to the Coliseum to take on the 8-2 New Orleans Saints in an afternoon tilt airing in most of the country on CBS (and CBS All Access), while the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers face off with the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers in a national prime time showdown.
Sunday’s early slate of regional games is highlighted by a divisional battle between Miami and New England, and MVP candidate Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Chicago Bears. Cord cutters with access to Fox and CBS can get the local game in their market — or can watch the Red Zone channel, which shows cut-ins of live games, as an add-on to streaming services including Sling and Fubo TV. But Thanksgiving weekend football no longer requires a seat on the couch in front of the TV, which might improve some family harmony this holiday season.