Super Bowl LII is here, and it’s almost time to join millions of Americans in watching the Philadelphia Eagles challenge the reigning champions, the New England Patriots, for football supremacy. Also to eat chips, watch some beer commercials, and see if Justin Timberlake can make it through a halftime show without causing any major cultural incidents.
Now, as has been the case for years, the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl rotates between the three major networks that air NFL games: NBC, FOX, and CBS. This year, it’s NBC’s turn to run the show — but given the crazy connected world we live in, with apps, streaming services, over-the-top TV networks, and cable logins, figuring out the best way to watch the game can be a complicated affair. Here’s everything you need to know.
When is the Super Bowl?
This year is Super Bowl LII (which, for those not well-versed in Roman numerals, is the 52nd incarnation of the title game) taking place between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30PM ET / 3:30PM PT tonight at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And if you’re more of a halftime show kind of person, Justin Timberlake will be headlining that this year (although given the somewhat chilly reception of his newest album, hopefully he’ll be sticking to some older and safer classics.)
Over-the-air / cable / satellite
If you pay for cable or satellite TV or have an over-the-air antenna hooked up, then you’re already set for watching the big game. Just head over to your local NBC affiliate channel and enjoy the game! The other big advantage to using old-fashioned “regular” TV is that you’ll be the closest to real time, short of being in the stadium itself.
Watching on your Apple TV / Chromecast / Roku / Fire TV
Prefer the internet? Good news! NBC is streaming the game for free through both the NBC and NBC Sports apps and websites. Ordinarily, you’d need a cable login to get a live stream from NBC, but for the Super Bowl, the company is opening the streaming gates to everyone for free.
So whether you’ve got an Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, or Xbox One — just install the app, fire up the stream tonight, and you’re good to go. NBC will even be airing the commercials, so you won’t miss a thing. The stream is usually a couple seconds behind broadcast TV, so maybe stay off social media if you don’t want big moments ruined by Twitter.
Watching on your computer
If you’re away from a TV or don’t have a set-top box to stream with, you’ve still got options. Just head over to NBC.com or NBCSports.com, and you’ll be able to catch the live stream of the game there too. Perfect for watching on your laptop or hooking up to a bigger display over HDMI.
Watching on a tablet
Tablets are pretty much the same as everything else — install the NBC or NBC Sports app, and you’re good to go.
Watching on a phone
In previous years, you were only able to watch the Super Bowl over a cellular connection on a phone if you were a Verizon customer. But that exclusivity deal ended in January, meaning that you’ll be able to catch the game on the go with the NFL Mobile (iOS / Android) or Yahoo Sports (iOS / Android) apps.
NBC’s app is probably the easiest way to go, but if you want a backup option, or just prefer someone else’s streaming app instead of NBC, over-the-top streaming services like DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Hulu’s live TV service all offer NBC in some areas. If you live in one of those areas (you’ll want to check your specific service’s local listings), you’ll be able to stream NBC — and therefore the Super Bowl — through one of those services.
As an added plus, most of those services are available on apps on most streaming boxes and devices (with YouTube TV in particular making it in just under the wire for the Super Bowl with Apple TV and Roku apps), so you’ll be able to get those streams up on your device of choice too if you’d like.
Both NBC’s apps and the other streaming services will only work inside the United States: but if you’re an expat Pats follower or an emigrated Eagles fan, you’ve still got some options. In England, the Super Bowl will be airing on BBC One and Sky Sports, 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.
And Canadians will have the big game on CTV, CTV Two, and TSN, and online through the CTV GO app (iOS / Android). Canadians will once again get the same ads as Americans this year, although that policy is being challenged in Canadian courts over lost ad revenue.
For other countries, check the NFL’s website, scroll down to the “Foreign Language Broadcasts”, and type in your country to find out your local broadcast options.
Maybe you’re concerned about the slight lag of cable or streaming options. Maybe you’re a die-hard fan who simply must see the Super Bowl in person. Maybe you just won the lottery. Whatever the reason, it is still technically possible to make it to Minnesota to watch the Super Bowl live. Sure, you’ll need tickets, which have been sold out entirely for ages, but you can pick those up on the grey market for a cool $3,500 each. Assuming you can get to the stadium before kickoff, it’s an option.
Update February 4th, 12:00pm: Added additional information regarding halftime show and over-the-top TV streaming for watching the game.