So you’re thinking about inviting your pals over to watch the big game, the 2018 Super Bowl, which will be played on Sunday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m. EST on NBC, and you are one of the estimated 22 million who have cut the cord on cable TV service. Yet you still have broadband internet, which you use to stream Netflix and Hulu, and theoretically, read this article. But live TV? You rarely watch it.
Here’s what you need to do: Reconsider your plans for having people over. Do you really want the hassle of hosting? Think of the cigarette butts that will litter your porch, the abandoned half-drunk cans of beer you’ll find in your living room for months, and the cheese dip spill that’ll be stuck like cement to your kitchen floor. Now text your buddies and see if there’s another party you can piggyback on this weekend.
There isn’t? And you’ve been banned from both your neighborhood’s good bars? OK. Party’s on. Here’s what most of you actually might need to do: Buy an antenna like the Mohu Leaf to connect to the TV or projector you’re planning on using to show the game. The Super Bowl will be broadcast in uncompressed 1080p HD video on NBC. If you’re well within 30 miles of a local affiliate, the Leaf 30 will do ($30; amazon.com); if you need a bit more range but are within 65 miles of a station, the amplified Leaf Glide ($90; amazon.com) should work. Get one by Saturday to give your system a test run; don’t make the mistake of connecting it when your friends start arriving on Sunday. And if you live in a rural area, check your address at antennaweb.org beforehand to make sure you’re in range of an NBC affiliate.
Using an antenna to grab an over-the-air signal should get you the game in better quality (and with less lag time) than watching it through an app, and it’ll probably be less annoying than other workarounds. But NBC Sports is offering coverage through its app on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Xbox, Chromecast, Samsung, and other smart TVs. Though to watch, you’ll have to put in the login and password for your cable TV provider.
If you are a cable TV subscriber and want to project the game on a wall in the garage, say, or another room without an existing cable TV hookup but within WiFi range, consider using the NBC Sports app. You can also watch through your computer’s browser via nbcsports.com (but again, you’ll need to enter the login you use for your cable TV provider).
Assuming you already have broadband internet, you could also choose to try one of the growing numbers of live TV-streaming subscription services, including PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, FuboTV, SlingTV, and YouTube TV, all of which include coverage from most local NBC affiliates. (Double check what coverage exists in your area on the services’ websites first.) The price range for the most basic streaming services runs from $25 to $40 or more monthly, and several offer seven-day or one-month trials (hint, hint).
If you aren’t having a party and will be watching alone in bed, or want to have a really classy party where the sportsball event is relegated to a tiny screen, you could watch the game on your phone via your cell phone signal. The Yahoo Sports app will be showing the game (via cell signal only, if you’ve got location services turned on). For Verizon Wireless customers, you can watch live with the NFL Mobile app. Don’t try either on a tablet, because a threatening hologram of Roger Goodell will appear in your living room, and it’s hard to get rid of.