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How to watch the 2021 Super Bowl without cable

Options abound for checking out all the championship action on whatever screen you choose.

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Football-loving cord-cutters will have an easy time watching Super Bowl LV this Sunday, when Patrick Mahomes and the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs will face Tom Brady and the champs from the NFC, the Tampa Bay Buccanners.

The game kicks off in Tampa, Florida at 6:30 PM ET at what happens to be the Bucs home turf, Raymond James Stadium. This is the first time in the history of the NFL that has happened. Pre-game coverage starts at 2:00 PM ET.

CBS has the rights to broadcast the game this year. We’ll show you how to watch the action—plus all those great commercials and the half-time show, starring The Weekend—even if you don’t have a cable- or satellite-TV subscription.

Unfortunately, the game won’t be available in 4K resolution this year—nor will it in HDR. CBS Sports Digital is blaming “production limitations” caused by the global pandemic. Considering CBS hasn’t produced any NFL games in 4K this season, we suspect this has more to do with CBS not wanting to take any chances with one of the biggest broadcast events in the world. 

Option one: Use an antenna

channel master flatenna 35 1 Martyn Williams / IDG

Channel Master’s Flatenna 35 (model No. CM-4001HDBW) is our current top pick in indoor TV antennas.

Of the four major North American sports leagues, the NFL remains the only one you can still enjoy without a pricey cable subscription. All you need is an antenna that’s capable of pulling in your local CBS affiliate to catch the big game.

If you’re old enough, the thought of using an antenna probably conjures memories of temperamental “rabbit ears” and staticky images. Thanks to modern broadcast technology and over-the-air antennas, you can get a high-quality image that can, in some cases, be better than what you’d get with a subscription.

If you live close enough to a broadcast tower, you might be able to use paper-thin indoor model such as our top pick, the Channel Master Flatenna 35. The 35 indicates the manufacturer’s promise of 35-mile range. A Flatenna 50 model promising—you guessed it—50 miles of range is also available.

If you’re more distant than that, you might be better off with an antenna that mounts to your roof or on a freestanding mast. The Antennas Direct DB8e is our favorite in that category. Either way, all you need do is plug one into the tuner that’s a fixture of most modern TVs.

Before you purchase an antenna, though, go to a site like TVFool or Antennaweb and see which networks are available from your local broadcasters. Just enter your address to get a report of all the broadcast signals in your area, ranked from strongest to weakest. Once you determine which broadcaster is furthest from your home, you’ll know what range antenna to buy.

tvfool Martyn Williams/IDG

A screenshot of the TV Fool website showing television reception in San Francisco.

Option two: Use a streaming service

In the event you’re too far from a transmitter to pull in CBS, or you just don’t have time to wait for an antenna delivery, you’ll need one of the streaming options below.

CBS All Access 

CBS All Access is your most obvious choice—and it’s the cheapest option: $5.99 per month with limited commercials ($59.99 if paid annually), or for $9.99 per month for a commercial-free option ($99.99 paid annually). The latter option gives you the opportunity to also download TV shows and movies for offline viewing. If you haven’t previously signed up for a 7-day trial, you can watch the big game for free! 

FuboTV

FuboTV focuses primarily on sports, and now finally includes ESPN in its lineup. More importantly for watching Super Bowl LV, you can get your local CBS station if an over-the-air antenna is out of the question. You’ll also get the NFL Network for all your game analysis and highlights. The service costs $64.99 per month for more than 100 channels, and there’s a 7-day free trial. Check here to see if FuboTV carries your local broadcast station.

YouTube TV

youtube tv logo 2 YouTube

Google’s TV streaming service is one of our favorite TV streaming services, and it’s available in most U.S. metropolitan areas (enter your zip code here to see if it’s available where you live). You get more than 85 channels, including CBS, for $64.99 per month. The service is offering a two-week free trial if you sign up for it by February 11, 2021.

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu’s live TV streaming service also gets you all the channels you need to watch the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. As with other streaming services, geographical restrictions apply, but you can check availability in your area here. Hulu + Live TV includes more than 65 channels for $64.99 a month. Now that Disney has complete control over Hulu, you can also sign up for a bundle that includes Hulu + Live TV, Disney+, and ESPN+ for just $7 more per month. And yes, there’s a 7-day free trial available.

Get your gridiron on 

Whichever options you choose, you’re guaranteed to have front-row seat when the NFL’s best team hoists the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

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