How to Watch College Football Without Cable This Season
The 2023 college football season is in full swing, and it’s the end of an era. Division I is in the midst of a historic realignment—the once-mighty Pac-12 is now down to only four teams, and there are currently...
The 2023 college football season is in full swing, and it’s the end of an era. Division I is in the midst of a historic realignment—the once-mighty Pac-12 is now down to only four teams, and there are currently 18 teams in the “Big 10.” All this shifting around will leave college football’s 2024 season looking unrecognizable to fans. Luckily, the proliferation of outlets broadcasting college ball means you can catch just about any game, by any of the 133 teams in Division 1, even without cable.
Before the internet, the problem with watching college football was being at the mercy of local affiliates and only seeing the games they chose to broadcast. Now, fans have the opposite dilemma: There’s so much college football showing in so many places, it can be hard to wade through the competing choices and schedules to find exactly the games you want to see.
Sadly, there’s no option for just streaming college football, or paying a la carte prices per game, so you’ll have to sign up with an entire streaming service to watch the games you want to see. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the right streaming service for watching your team.
College football broadcasting works differently than a centralized system like the NFL has. Each team belongs to a conference, and each conference has different broadcast deals, so it helps to know which service streams and/or broadcasts the games from the conference to which your team belongs. (Check out this list from ESPN to find out which conference each team belongs to.)American Athletic Conference (AAC) — ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) — ABC, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+, The CWBig 12 — ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Longhorn Network (Texas only)Big Ten — Big Ten Network, CBS, Fox, Fox Sports 1, NBC, PeacockConference USA — CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+FBS independents — CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN+, NBC, PeacockMid-American Conference (MAC) — CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+Mountain West Conference (MW) — CBS, CBS Sports Network, Fox, Fox Sports 1Pac-12 Conference — ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Pac-12 NetworkSoutheastern Conference (SEC) — CBS, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+, SEC Network, SEC+Sun Belt Conference — ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN+
Which streaming service is right for you depends on which teams you want to watch, how many games you want to see, and how much you want to pay. If you’re a casual fan of a local team, maybe all you need is a decent antenna to pick up local broadcasts and the address of a local sports bar. But if you can’t miss a single game from your college team, you can expect to pay between $60 and $80 a month, depending on where those games can be found. You can check the NCAA’s website for a schedule of every game this season to get a rough idea.
YouTube TV Live, YouTube’s cable alternative, is competitively priced, offers 100 live channels, and is the only place you can subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket. Plus, it offers fairly good “get you started” discounts and a free trial for newbs. College football fans will be able to catch all the network games (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW) and the games showing on the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, The SEC Network and more on YouTube TV.
Promotional prices changes, but right now, YouTube TV is $54.99/mo for the first 3 months and $72.99/mo thereafter for YouTube TV Base Plan. YouTube TV lets you watch for free for 20 minutes, and generally offers free 7-day trials for first-time users, although it has been known to offer longer free periods occasionally.
While YouTube covers all major college games, and almost all smaller games, if your team has games scheduled only on the Longhorn Network or Pack-12 Network, you won’t be able to catch them on YouTube TV.
Channels: ABC, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS, CBS Sports Network, CW, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, Fox, FS1, FS2, NBC, NBCSN, NFL Network, and SEC Network
Hulu+Live TV offers a similar plan to YouTube TV’s. The monthly cost is slightly lower: It’s currently $$49.99/mo. for the first three months and $69.99/mo. from then on. It does not currently offer a free trial, and does not have the option of subscribing to NFL Sunday ticket.
Channels: ABC, ACC Network, CBS, CBS Sports Network, CW, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Fox, FS1, FS2, NBC, NFL Network, SEC Network,
If you’re a college football completist, Fubo is the streamer for you. Fubo TV’s “Elite” tier costs $84.99/mo for 236 channels and 1000 hours of cloud-based recording you can watch on up to 10 screens. Included in those 236 channels are 17 channels that broadcast college football, including the expected national broadcasters, but also games from ESPNU, SEC Network, Pac-12 Network, and ACC Network, in case you really need to catch every Boston College Eagles game this season.
Fubo’s less expensive ”pro” tier is $74.99/mo, and features 14 channels that broadcast college football, so you’ll still be able to catch every major division 1 games and most minor ones too. Fubo also offers a 7-day free trial period, so you can get sneaky and watch free football for a week, then cancel it before the charge hits.
Channels: ABC, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS, CBS Sports Network, CW, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, Fox, FS1, FS2, NBC, NBCSN, NFL Network, Pac-12 Network, and SEC Network.
Broadcasters give away a ton of college football every week, and all you need to watch it on a station near you at full 4K HD quality is a $9 digital antenna, so if you’re feeling frugal, this is the way to go.
Sling TV’s byzantine pricing structure might leave you scratching your head, but it is marginally cheaper than any other streaming service.
Sling Orange and Sling Blue are $40/mo. each, but each package has different channels. ABC and ESPN, for instance are Orange. NBC and NFL Network are Blue. Both Blue and Orange can be combined with a “sports extra” add-on for $11 a month. But the sports extra add-ons are not the same. Some sports channels are shared across both packages, and some are only available on one. So you can watch college games broadcast by the Pack-12 Network on both Blue and Orange, but if you want to watch the Longhorn Network, you’ll have to subscribe to Orange, and if you want to watch Big Ten-broadcast college games, you’ll have to subscribe to Blue.
You can also combine Orange and Blue for $55/mo. and add a sports package for $15/mo. to receive 20 extra sports channels a month for a grand total of $66/mo.
Channels: ABC, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPNews, ESPN U, Fox, FS1, FS2, NBC, Pac-12 Network, SEC Network