How to watch the Super Bowl for free: Cut the cable cord!

streaming the super bowl

If you're looking to watch Super Bowl XLIX online this Sunday, NBC has you covered.

Just like other networks that have offered a free live stream of the Super Bowl in previous years, NBC will make the 2015 game available through its NBC Sports website and mobile app. Still, getting the spectacle onto the device of your choosing could be tricky, so read on for the best ways to watch the Super Bowl without a pay-TV subscription.

On your computer

This one’s easy: Just head to the NBC Sports Live Extra Website to watch the game for free. There's no need to sign in or jump through any other hoops, and you can tune in as early as noon on February 1 to get your fill of pre-game coverage before the 6:30 p.m. Eastern kick-off. The live stream even will include the halftime show, which wasn't the case the last time NBC streamed the Super Bowl in 2012.

On your phone or tablet

If you have an iOS, Android, or Windows 8 tablet, you can download the NBC Sports Live Extra app to watch the live stream. Windows tablet users can also head to the Live Extra Website through their web browsers. Again, no cable login is required.

Phone access is more complicated. The NFL Mobile app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone will have a live stream of the Super Bowl, but only for only Verizon Wireless customers. And if you don't have a “More Everything” shared data plan, you'll need to sign up for a $5 monthly fee to access the game. Without Verizon, your best bet for remote access is to just take a tablet or laptop with you, then set up a mobile hotspot on your phone to provide the Internet connection.

nflmobile Verizon

This image depicts Verizon intercepting football from everyone else. Three cheers for long-term licensing agreements!

If you really want to get fancy, you can try using a remote desktop app to connect with your computer at home and access the NBC Sports website remotely. Chrome Remote Desktop does a decent job with video streaming, though getting audio to work can be a hassle. Splashtop also works well for streaming media, but requires a subscription for mobile network access. In both cases, you'll want to plan ahead and set up these solutions before you leave the house.

On the big screen

Before you even think about streaming the Super Bowl on TV, first consider using a plain old antenna instead. You can buy one for under $20 from your nearest big box or electronics store, and you’ll get smooth, high-quality video that rivals what you get from cable. can help you figure out if you're in broadcast range.

If the antenna isn’t a viable option (because you’re too far from NBC’s broadcast tower, for instance), you can turn to more elaborate streaming setups:

  • Apple TV doesn’t have a way to stream the Super Bowl directly, but if you have an iPad, you can  use the NBC Sports Live Extra app and AirPlay to beam the video to your television. (Apple's website has instructions.) Alternatively, you can set up AirPlay mirroring on a Mac to stream the game from the NBC Sports Live Extra Website. Either way, you should plug in your device to avoid battery drain, and disable screen lock to avoid any interruptions in the stream.
  • Chromecast users can tune into the NBC Sports Live Extra Website on a laptop or desktop computer, and use the Cast extension to send the video to the television. You may want to reduce video quality to 480p if the stream is too choppy, and you should definitely keep the laptop plugged in to avoid battery drain. Android tablets that support screen mirroring can also load the game through the Live Extra app and cast it to the big screen.
  • Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick users with a Windows 8 PC can set up screen mirroring through the instructions on Roku’s site. Once it’s up and running, visit the NBC Sports Live Extra Website on game day to access the live feed. Supported Android tablets (as listed on Roku's site) can also set up screen mirroring and watch the game through the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick users can also set up mirroring from a Fire HDX tablet, Fire phone, or certain Android devices. Check Amazon's Website for instructions.
  • Your final options would be to launch the stream on a laptop with an HDMI output, and then connect the laptop up to the TV. Alternatively, you could invest in a Chromebox, whose desktop-grade browser comes in handy for just this kind of application.

With all of these possibilities, you should find some way to watch the big game even without a cable subscription. If not, head to your nearest bar; you'll probably need at least a beer after you've exhausted every other effort.

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