NFL football is back. After the kickoff game last night, we’ve been ushered into fall. And while antennas work great for watching your local/state team play, borderline-obsessive fans will find themselves wanting more.
As one of those fans and a fantasy football commissioner, I set out to find the most cost-effective way to watch the vast majority of games and the crown jewel of NFL-viewing: NFL Redzone.
Redzone is a 7-hour, commercial-free show that starts at 10am PST every Sunday of the NFL season. It features the greatest television host of all time and jumps between whichever games have redzone opportunities (teams within 20 yards of scoring). If multiple games have redzone opportunities, it either breaks them down into smaller boxes so you can watch each one at the same time or flips between each game in question. During times when no teams are in the redzone, it usually tunes in to the closest game(s) of the day or the most talked about games of the week. If you’re an NFL fan, particularly a fantasy football player, I highly recommend choosing a service that includes NFL RedZone.
We used to have Dish for our cable and RedZone viewing, but after getting consistently screwed over from their price hikes and contract terms, we ended up cutting the cord. Since then, we’ve looked into three streaming services that includes NFL RedZone and one clear winner emerges.
Playstation Vue used to be an option for only those who owned a Playstation and had their annual Playstation Plus membership. These two requirements often resulted in the service being listed towards the tail end of “recommended streaming services to replace cable” articles. But recently, they’ve expanded to multiple supported devices and owning a Playstation is no longer required. As long as you have a Roku, Amazon Fire TV stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Playstation, you’ll be able to stream this service. The “core” package with the Sports add-on provides the 4 channels I’d recommend for a complete NFL-viewing experience: NBC, ESPN, NFL Network and of course, NFL RedZone. This comes out to be $59.99/month, and as with all streaming services, you can cancel at any time without penalty. This means if you only keep the service for the 5-month football season, you’d be looking at an annual expense of $300, or $25 per month. Included in the “core” package are several more traditional cable channels like Fox, CBS, ABC, Food Network, HGTV and Disney. Playstation Vue also allows you to record shows on to a cloud-based DVR to view later.
Sling TV is probably the most popular option out there, but it might not be the best option for NFL fans. They have a couple primary packages: Orange and Blue. Blue includes NFL Network and NBC (in some markets, unlike Vue and Fubo, which always provide local channels), but Orange includes ESPN.
After adding on the Sports Package to get RedZone, you end up needing Orange, Blue and the Sports add-on for $60/month just to get the 4 channels you really want– and that’s if you’re one of the rare few that gets access to local channels. So why consider this an option? If you’re willing to part with Monday Night Football on ESPN, you no longer need the Orange package. This drops your monthly rate down to $35/month. Based on 5 months of use, this results in less than $15/month for your streaming bill over the course of a year. Sling TV also requires another $5/month if you want their 50-hour DVR storage, which is included in the price of Vue & Fubo. You have a more limited option of traditional channels in comparison to Vue & Fubo if you just go with the Blue package, but the reduced price is alluring.
Fubo is a newer streaming service catered towards sports fans. They have a robust network of sports channels and their standard package includes 30 hours of Cloud DVR and 2 of the 4 desired channels (NBC & NFL Network) for $44.99/month. After adding on their Sports Plus package that includes RedZone, you’re up to $53.98/month. Included in the package are all of your traditional cable channels, including locals and popular channels like Food Network and HGTV. 30 hours of cloud DVR storage for recording shows is also included in the price. Unfortunately you won’t be getting Monday Night Football with this streamer, as ESPN isn’t included.
With their recent switch to non-Playstation supported devices, Playstation Vue takes the crown if you’re looking for all 4 channels that complete the NFL-viewing experience.
Fubo’s lack of ESPN doesn’t make up for its slightly lower monthly price tag. But if you’re trying to reduce that cable line item as much as possible, consider skipping MNF on ESPN and opting for the Sling Blue+Sports Package for nearly half the cost of Vue.