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How to Watch the 2017 Super Bowl Without a Cable Subscription


It’s that time of year again: time for the Super Bowl. What do you do if you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription? Don’t worry: there are plenty of ways to tune into the Big Game.

This year, Super Bowl LI (that’s 51 in case your Roman numerals skills are rusty) pits the Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots in Houston, Texas on Sunday, February 5. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 PM Eastern Time (3:30 PM Pacific). And, just in case you’re wondering, this year’s halftime entertainment will be provided by Lady Gaga.

If you’re not interested in any of that, however, you can still tune in for what has now become a time-honored Super Bowl tradition: the commercials.

If you’ve been using an NFL Game Pass subscription and a VPN to stream games all season long, you should be good to go. But most users will probably use one of the options below to watch the big game.

Option One: Tune in to FOX with a Digital Antenna

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Many of you have probably been using your HDTV to watch Netflix, HBO NOW, and other streaming services. But don’t forget that once upon a time, we all got our TV from old-fashioned antennas. And they’re still around.

This year’s Super Bowl is being televised on FOX, which like other broadcast networks, can be plucked from the airwaves for free if you have a digital antenna.

If you don’t, you can find a decent digital antenna on Amazon or at your local electronics store for around $20-$40. Most of these can be affixed to the wall, stood or laid on a shelf or table, or attached to the exterior of your home. Which antenna you get will depend on your location, though, so check out our guide to digital antennas for more info.

Once installed and hooked up to your television, it’s just a matter of tuning your TV to your local FOX affiliate.

It may take some finagling to get your antenna just right but once you do, you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the over-the-air source and what you see via cable or satellite.

Option Two: Stream It on FOX Sports

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According to a spokesperson from FOX Sports, the Super Bowl will be free to stream on the FOX Sports website, no cable login required.

Some media outlets are reporting that you can watch the Big Game using the Fox Sports Go app on your phone or tablet as well, without having to prove you’re a cable or satellite subscriber. If you have a Chromecast, this is the best way to get the game to your TV (though casting from your computer’s browser will work in a pinch, too). Alternatively, you can also try connecting your computer directly to your TV.

Whether you can watch the Super Bowl this way overseas, however, is unclear. Fox Sports Go’s FAQ states that “limited FOX Sports programming is available overseas.” That’s pretty vague.

If you find you can’t stream the game overseas, now’s as good a time as any to sign up for a virtual private network (VPN). If you live outside the US, a VPN can route all your Internet traffic through a location inside the States, allowing you to stream the game. VPNs are pretty cheap, usually a few dollars a month, and afford you an extra layer of privacy, so it’s usually a good idea to use one anyway.

We recommend SurfEasy because it will provide great speeds and ease of use. If you want something with more advanced options, StrongVPN will appeal to power users. Regardless, any VPN that has servers in the United States should work.

Option Three: Go to a Sports Bar or a Friend’s House

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This last option is pretty obvious to some, but it might have never occurred to you. This coming Sunday, it’s going to be nearly impossible to go anywhere there is a TV and not find the Super Bowl playing.

So, while you might have had your heart set on watching it at home, if the above options don’t work for you, you can always go to a local eatery or—better yet—ask around and see if any of your friends are having a Super Bowl party. Chances are, you’ll find a TV with the game playing.

Image Credit: NFL, Mohu, Ben Miller/Flickr

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and died-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.


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