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If you want to stream San Francisco 49ers games, your options will depend on three main factors: if you’re in the Bay Area, if you have cable and if you want to watch on a TV. NFL broadcasting policies are pretty arcane, and subscription services are splintered.
Fortunately, streaming 49ers games is cheap and straightforward if you’re near San Francisco. If you’re outside the Bay Area, however, you’ll need to fork over for NFL Sunday Ticket to guarantee catching Jimmy G and the gang. More on that later.
Streaming 49ers games in the Bay Area without cable
You’ve got a TV, but you don’t pay for cable. No problem. You’ll have a few options for when you don’t feel like walking down to your corner sports bar.
Stream 49ers games with the NFL app
As of the 2018 season, the NFL allowed NFL app users to stream live in-market and primetime games. That includes Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football—meaning, you can watch every 49ers game live with the NFL app. The catch is, you can stream games only on your mobile device, and can’t cast or screen mirror to a TV.
To do that, you’ll either need a digital TV antenna, or a subscription to another streaming service.
Stream 49ers games with a digital TV antenna
This isn’t streaming, per se, but it is cheap and easy. Let’s also just move past the joke about TV antennas not being rabbit ears anymore.
This digital HD TV antenna costs $29.99. It has 675 5-star reviews on Amazon, and a 4.4 out of 5 rating overall. More importantly, a digital TV antenna will get you KPIX (CBS), KTVU (FOX) and NBC Bay Area. That guarantees you every 49ers game except three:
- Week 5 vs. Cleveland Browns
- Week 10 vs. Seattle Seahawks
- Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Weeks 5 and 10 are Monday Night Football games on ESPN. Because of an NFL broadcasting policy, however, these games are made available on over-the-air television stations in the Bay Area. They’ll be broadcast locally, most likely on KGO-TV (ABC). You’ll get those, too.
The Week 16 game has not yet been scheduled on TV, as it might be flexed to primetime. Regardless, it will be available on one of the local stations. Put simply: For about $30, you can watch every regular-season 49ers game on TV.
Of course, if you’re reading this article right before a game starts, or in the middle of a game, you won’t be able to get an antenna hooked up immediately. That brings up our next option.
Stream 49ers games with Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV costs $44.99 a month and in the Bay Area, includes KPIX (CBS), KTVU (FOX), NBC Bay Area and ESPN. That will cover all 16 regular season games, and you can stream games to your TV, computer, mobile device or tablet. That covers you on every device, including your TV.
In theory, you could use the NFL app on your phone, and an antenna for your TV. It’s unlikely the broadcasts would sync up, though, so good luck not going nuts when someone in another room erupts after a George Kittle touchdown and you’re five seconds behind.
Streaming 49ers games with Bay Area cable
If you’ve got a cable subscription in the Bay Area, you’ve got it easy. You can watch live games on CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN on your electronic devices as long as you know your login credentials for your cable provider. You can also use the NFL app to watch 49ers games live on your phone if you can’t remember your login.
To access live 49ers games, use each network’s app:
Streaming 49ers games outside the Bay Area
Whether you have cable or not, NFL Sunday Ticket is the only way to guarantee you catch every 49ers game live outside the Bay Area. Non-Bay Area cable subscribers can still watch Sunday Night Football on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN, but other games on FOX and CBS are subject to local broadcast rules.
In other words, you’ll only see the 49ers if they play in primetime or if they play the team in your market. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of the NFL’s broadcasting policies and time slots.
NFL Sunday Ticket comes with a DirecTV subscription, including DirecTV Choice, which costs $69.99 for 12 months. That includes all out-of-market games, and works with iOS and Android devices, computers, streaming devices like Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku and game consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
You might still have options if you don’t want to subscribe to DirecTV, too. NFL Sunday Ticket is available without DirecTV if you live in an area without DirecTV service, or if you live in a multi-unit residence like an apartment, condo or dormitory. You can check your eligibility on the DirecTV website.
If you qualify, you have two options: NFLST.TV To Go, which costs $73.49 per month for four months, or $293.96 in one lump sum. That includes every out-of-market game.
The NFLST.TV Max package costs $99 per month for four months, or $395.99 in one lump sum. That includes all out-of-market games and tacks on NFL Red Zone, so you can mainline touchdowns, and DirectTV Fantasy Zone, which, as you might guess, adds in fantasy football analysis.
Students enrolled in two- or four-year schools also qualify for discounted service: $24.99 per month for four months, or $99.96 for the season.
If for whatever reason you just want to watch the 49ers game and don’t care about seeing it live, you can also sign up for NFL Game Pass. That allows you to replay every NFL game throughout the season for $99. But if you’re obsessed enough to be streaming 49ers games on your phone, you probably want to watch them live.
For 49ers die-hards outside the Bay, there’s really only one option. Otherwise, you’ll just have to find a sports bar that’ll play your game—and there’s just about no way that could live up to the legendary 49ers bars back home.
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