The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in America, and whether you’re a football fan or not, chances are you’ll be joining the millions of people crowding around their TV screens to see the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots. Or maybe you’re just there to eat wings and see this year’s batch of commercials.
In the good old days (i.e., a couple of years ago) watching the Super Bowl just meant figuring out which of the three networks — NBC, Fox, or CBS — had the rights to air it this year and then figure out what channel number that was for your local affiliate.
Nowadays, though, things are more complicated. Between online streaming, over-the-air broadcasts, apps for set-top boxes, and internet based TV services for cord cutters, it can be hard to figure out how to watch the Super Bowl. So let’s break it down:
When is the Super Bowl?
This year is Super Bowl LI, which will take place between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm ET at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. If you’re more of a half-time show kind of person, Lady Gaga will be handling that.
Over-the-air / cable
This is the classic method of watching the Super Bowl, and it’s probably the easiest. If you’ve got an over-the-air antenna hooked up, or pay for cable, then you’re pretty much all set. Just find your local Fox affiliate channel (in the New York area, that’s Channel 5) and enjoy the game! Other advantages to using “regular” TV is that it’s probably the closest to real time, meaning you won’t fall behind the endless stream of commentary on Twitter and Facebook.
Watching on your Apple TV / Chromecast / Roku / Console
Hate cable? Out of antenna range? Well, don’t worry. Fox is making this really easy this year. Just download the Fox Sports Go app on your platform of choice (here’s some helpful iOS, Android, Xbox, Roku, and Amazon links). Then you’ll be good to go! Ordinarily you’d need a cable login, but Fox is opening the gates to anyone for the Super Bowl. Plus, you should get all the usual commercials, so you won’t be missing out. The downside is that the stream tends to lag a bit behind the live broadcast.
Watching on a computer
Internet streaming can be a bit hit-or-miss when it comes to live sports (or live events in general), but because the Super Bowl is so big, everything is far easier than for a standard broadcast. If you’re on a computer, just head on over to the Fox Sports Go website, and you should be good to go.
Watching on a tablet
Watching on a smartphone
If you’re on Wi-Fi, same rules as tablets apply. If you’re out and about though, then you’re flat out of luck — unless you’re a Verizon customer, since Verizon has an exclusivity deal on mobile NFL streaming.
That said, if you’re a Verizon customer, same hit up those same apps, and enjoy the game.
As an important caveat, those above Fox Sports based options will tend to only work inside the United States. But if you’re an expat Pats follower or a far-flung Falcons fan, you’ve still got some options. In England, the Super Bowl will be airing on BBC 1 and Sky Sports 1, with online streams available on the BBC iPlayer (iOS / Android), BBC Sport (iOS / Android), and Sky Go (iOS / Android) apps and websites — just remember that the game won’t start until 11:30 PM in London. Our neighbors to the north won’t be left out either — Canada will be offering the big game on CTV, CTV Two, and TSN, and online through the CTV GO app (iOS / Android). Plus, Canadians will finally get to see the same ads as America for the first time this year. For other countries, check this full list of channel rights from totalSPORTEK.
While the game has obviously been sold out for a while, if you’re somehow able to get to Houston in the next couple hours, tickets are available on the secondary market starting at over $2500 dollars apiece. The advantages include being even closer to real time than the over-the-air broadcast and hearing Lady Gaga live. On the other hand, in addition to transportation and ticket costs, you’ll be missing out on all the commercials.