While the most popular shows — and the ways you can watch them — seem to change on a yearly basis, the Super Bowl remains the biggest event on television. Even when ratings dip because of a matchup that isn’t so intriguing, about 100 million people still watch the NFL’s championship football game every single year.
This year’s game promises to be big as ever, with iconic quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger being in the hunt alongside today’s brightest stars like Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray. The return of beloved (or completely hated) franchises like the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots to the playoff mix makes the possibilities thrilling. And if you don’t care about football, there are always the commercials and a halftime performance from Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige.
Eminem, right, appears onstage to perform with Dr. Dre during the headlining performance by Dre and Snoop Dogg on the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Indio, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
In the old days, there was only one way to tune in for the big game but there are now a handful of options available to you, some of which won’t cost you any extra money and don’t require cable or another subscription. Whether you’re hosting a party for friends to watch with you or just hoping to rock your pajamas and keep it low-key on the sofa, here are a few ways you can watch the Super Bowl, even without cable, this year.
1. Watch Via Over-The-Air For Free
The original way to watch the Super Bowl remains the most cost-effective and reliable. With an over-the-air digital antenna, you can watch the Super Bowl without cable or any other kind of TV subscription. Since the game always airs on either CBS, Fox or NBC — three of the major over-the-air broadcast networks — it’s totally free for anyone with a TV and antenna to watch on their local affiliate.
Super Bowl 56, which kicks off on Feb. 13 from Los Angeles, will air on NBC. If you’ve already got your over-the-air antenna set up and your local NBC affiliate is already scanned into your channel lineup, simply flip to that station on the day of the game and enjoy the coverage from start to finish, fee-free, including NBC’s pre- and post-game shows, all the commercials and the halftime show.
If you don’t have an over-the-air antenna, check out this guide on finding the best one for your needs, then install it and run a scan for channels on your TV. Your local NBC affiliate should be among the ones you receive and that’s where you’ll want to flip on game day.
Indoor and outdoor antennas are available at many price points, depending on your needs and budget. You can even win a free digital antenna from The Free TV Project, a website also owned by our parent company, The E.W. Scripps Co. The Free TV Project seeks to educate consumers about over-the-air TV and recommend the best antennas. In advance of the Super Bowl, they’re giving away 200 Mohu Leaf Ultimate V3 antennas, which retail at around $70.
2. Stream It With A Live TV Subscription
Many people these days have a subscription to at least one of the on-demand streaming services (i.e., Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video) but that won’t help you watch the Super Bowl since the game is obviously a live program. However, you can stream the game through services like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling and Fubo, each of which gives you access to live content from networks including NBC.
You’ll of course have to pay for any of those services beyond the free-trial window that many of them offer. So, you could theoretically sign up for a free trial that covers the Super Bowl and then cancel before you’re billed but if you miss the window — which many people do — you’ll face an automatic fee, which could be pricey, depending on which service you’ve used.
3. Stream It On Peacock
Since NBC has the 2022 Super Bowl, the broadcaster is simulcasting the big game on its streaming app, Peacock. This offers you another way to watch the Super Bowl without cable or a live TV streaming subscription, but it will come with some strings attached.
To watch the Super Bowl on Peacock, you’ll need a subscription to one of the app’s paid tiers. This means you’ll have to sign up for either Peacock Premium ($4.99 a month) or Peacock Premium Plus ($9.99 a month) to have the option to stream the game. The more expensive option eliminates all ads from the on-demand content you stream on Peacock but since the Super Bowl is live, the ads will obviously still be part of the broadcast, so this plan doesn’t make sense for anyone who’s merely trying to stream the game.
POZNAN, POL – FEB 6, 2021: Flat-screen TV set displaying logo of of Peacock, an over-the-top video streaming service owned and operated by the Television and Streaming division of NBCUniversal
Peacock is not currently offering a free trial period for either of its premium-level tiers, so you’ll have to pay at least $4.99 to watch the game this way. Chances are also likely that the app’s servers will struggle to keep up with demand during the year’s biggest viewing event. When NBC used Peacock to stream the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, viewers were met with lagging and constant bugs. While the company has had plenty of time to iron out any issues since then, it’s tough to imagine a live stream of the Super Bowl going off without a hitch or two.
4. Go To A Bar
Finally, one of the most common ways people watch the big game during most years is to head to a sports bar — or pretty much any spot that has TVs — to see it with a crowd. For obvious reasons, this isn’t the safest way to watch the 2022 Super Bowl. In addition to risking your health and that of others during the pandemic, you’ll probably end up spending way more watching the game this way than any other because you’ll be buying food and drinks for four hours or more.
Ella Silver, left, and Moe Helmy react during a viewing party for the Super Bowl 53 football game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
As you can see, there are more ways than ever to watch the Super Bowl but using an over-the-air antenna to catch it on your local NBC station still makes the most sense. You won’t have to worry about server issues, Wi-Fi strength or recurring payments. However you watch, here’s to a good game.