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NBC Live Stream Free: How to Watch NBC Online Live Without Cable

Cable, satellite, or streaming—how are you going to watch NBC this season?

NBC has something for everyone—quality news coverage, soap operas, dramas. It’s kind of a must-have. So what’s the best way to watch NBC?

Top ways to watch NBC

Best Overall


SELECT Package

DIRECTV is a satellite TV service, so it’s more reliable than streaming—even if it is a bit more expensive in the long term.
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Best for Cord Cutters


Limited Commercials

Hulu offers more NBC stations than any other streaming service, so it’s a good bet for cord-cutters.
Free Trial
Data effective 09/28/2018. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13–24.
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What about NBC.com?

While NBC.com is a great resource for free on-demand content from the past month, it’s not the best way to watch live.

To watch live TV on NBC.com, you need to authenticate with credentials from another service. And if you have to sign up for a TV provider anyway, you’re better off just using the service you’re paying for. Hence no NBC.com on our list.

#1 DIRECTV: The most reliable way to get NBC

Best Choice

SELECT Package

155+ channels
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13–24.
See Plans

What we like: NBC availability pretty much everywhere

Drawbacks: Two-year contract and rate hikes

Who it’s perfect for: NBC fans who want DVR space and reliability

DIRECTV is basically the Days of Our Lives of TV services. No matter what’s going on, you can mostly count on it always being there. And by that we mean it’s ultra-reliable. You don’t have to worry about whether or not DIRECTV offers local channels in your area. You don’t have to worry about buffering or glitching. Whenever you need your NBC fix, it’s ready to go.

Of course, also like Days of Our Lives, DIRECTV’s not all hearts and roses.

With DIRECTV, you have to sign a two-year contract. To make matters worse, you’re locked into a price jump after just twelve months. That makes your service more expensive than other options (like DISH or a streaming service) in the long run.

So if contracts and rate hikes leave a bad taste in your mouth, you may want to check out Hulu with Live TV.

How much does DIRECTV cost?

NBC is included in DIRECTV’s cheapest package, SELECT™. The SELECT™ plan starts at $35 per month, assuming you sign up for autopay and paperless billing (otherwise it’s $40 per month).

The bad news? After a year, your price for the SELECT™ package more than doubles to $78 per month. And since you have to sign a two-year contract, you’re stuck paying that higher rate for at least another year.

When you factor in the higher price during the second year, the SELECT™ plan averages out to about $56.50 per month. That’s fairly steep if you’re just trying to get NBC. But if you’re all about reliability and DVR access, it could still be worth it for your household.

Watching NBC on DIRECTV

With DIRECTV, there’s almost never a question of whether or not you’ll get NBC in your area. Sure, your local station may occasionally go dark if it’s feuding with DIRECTV over contracts. But blackouts are pretty rare.

Another advantage DIRECTV has over streaming services: it’s not delivered via the internet. That means you won’t have to put up with grainy picture quality in the middle of Sunday Night Football just because everyone else is streaming Game of Thrones. That’s reliability, son.


We all love getting more bang for our buck. DIRECTV’s DVR gives you exactly that.

The Genie® HD DVR is included with every DIRECTV package at no extra cost and lets you record up to 200 hours of HD video. Recording power like that definitely beats out the DVR you get with DISH package (the Hopper Duo), and it’s a heck of a lot better than most streaming services offer.

Is the Genie the best DVR on the market? Quite frankly, no. YouTube TV’s unlimited cloud DVR easily beats the Genie, and DISH’s Hopper 3 offers more storage space and perks like automatic commercial skipping (woot woot!).

But if you’re looking for a good combination of dependable service and quality recording options without extra fees, the Genie is definitely one of the best options out there.

DIRECTV installation and equipment

Because DIRECTV is a satellite service, you’ll have to deal with a more involved installation process than you would with a streaming service. We’re talking experts-climbing-ladders-and-drilling-a-dish-to-the-side-of-your-house levels of “involved.”

You’ll also have to pay extra equipment fees if you opt to connect multiple TVs. DIRECTV usually charges $7 per month for each Genie Mini—a couple bucks more than DISH. Oh, and if you can’t hardwire each of those Genie Minis, you’ll also have to pay a $99 upfront fee (which covers any and all wireless Genie Minis you need).

So if you’ve got a TV in every room, you may be better off with another service.

#2 Hulu with Live TV: The best NBC coverage for cord-cutters

Best for Cord Cutters

Limited Commercials

57+ Channels

This service is available on these devices

Free Trial

What we like: Good NBC coverage and tons of on-demand content

Drawbacks: NBC isn’t available everywhere

Who it’s perfect for: Savvy cord-cutters looking to maximize their streaming experience

Here’s the thing: Hulu has a reputation for providing high-quality on-demand shows. And that reputation’s well-deserved. But Hulu with Live TV really takes things up a notch.

Hulu Live offers all the on-demand content you’ve come to expect from Hulu plus a bunch of live channels. In fact, Hulu Live has more live local channels than any other streaming service.

For NBC fans, that’s good news. So if you’re looking to watch NBC without a cable or satellite plan, Hulu with Live TV is the bee’s knees.

How much does Hulu with Live TV cost?

Hulu Live is super affordable, especially compared with cable and satellite providers. It costs $39.99 per month, and you don’t have to sign a contract. You can breathe that sigh of relief, now.

You can also upgrade to the No Commercials plan and skip commercials on (almost) all on-demand content. No late-night, hunger-inducing pizza commercials? Yes, please.

Can I watch NBC on Hulu Live?

In most areas, yes. Hulu Live isn’t quite as established as DIRECTV or DISH, so it hasn’t secured broadcast rights with every local station in the country. Yet.

As of this writing, Hulu offers NBC in 144 markets—more than any other streaming service. In fact, that’s a bit of a theme with Hulu Live, which has deals with almost 700 local stations nationwide.

In other words, Hulu Live makes it a lot easier to watch your favorite NBC shows compared to other streaming services. It’s still no DIRECTV, but it’s a far sight better than Sling TV.

Hulu Live’s cloud DVR

Hulu with Live TV’s cloud DVR is just okay.

Hulu Live subscriptions include just 50 hours of HD storage—not a lot, especially considering DIRECTV’s 200 hours of included storage on the Genie DVR.

Of course, you can upgrade to 200 hours of storage, but it costs $15 more per month. That’s pretty steep considering fuboTV offers 500 hours of HD storage for roughly the same overall price ($44.99 per month plus a $10 monthly DVR add-on fee).

Frankly, at that point, you might as well stick with DIRECTV and enjoy the extra reliability.

Compatible devices

Since Hulu with Live TV is a streaming service, you don’t have to deal with physical DVRs or set-top boxes. Instead, you’ll need a streaming device.

There are a lot of different streaming devices on the market, so you can choose the best one for your needs. Hulu Live isn’t available on every device, so you’ll need one that’s compatible. Fortunately, you can choose from any of the following devices:

TV and video players:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Roku
  • Samsung smart TVs (select models)

Phones and tablets:

  • Amazon Fire mobile
  • Android mobile
  • iOS mobile

Gaming consoles:

  • Nintendo Switch
  • Xbox One
  • Xbox 360
  • Wii
  • Wii U

Computers and laptops:

  • Mac computers
  • PCs

Wild card: Digital antennas

What we like: No monthly fees

Drawbacks: No DVR or playback control; spotty reception in some areas

Who it’s perfect for: Cord-cutters who don’t mind watching everything live

Trying to minimize your monthly spending? Can’t get a reliable internet or satellite connection? If so, you may want to consider getting a digital antenna (like this one on Amazon).

Like the rabbit ears of yesteryear, modern antennas pick up locally broadcast TV signals—including your local NBC station. It’s free to watch over-the-air broadcasts, so going the antenna route essentially eliminates the need for monthly TV bills.

Of course, there are some downsides. If you live in an area with poor reception, you could wind up with fuzzy, unreliable picture quality unless you’re willing to stand perfectly still with one arm in the air.

You also miss out on playback features (no pausing your show while you run to the fridge) and DVR functionality.

Basically, you’re stuck watching everything as it airs live. If that works with your schedule, then great. Otherwise, you might want to hunt for some better budget options (like Hulu with Live TV).

The bottom line . . .

NBC is a must-have, so it may be worth selling your soul (a.k.a. signing a contract) to DIRECTV for a little more reliability. But if you’re set on sticking it to the man and cutting the cord, Hulu with Live TV is a decent choice too.

Worst case scenario, you can usually use a digital HD antenna to pick up your local NBC station without having to pay for it, though you will miss out on some nice features.

Did we miss anything? How do you prefer to watch your favorite NBC shows? Tag us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

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