The first Thursday Night Football game of 2018 is on September 13.
If you’re a committed NFL fan, it’s important to catch every Thursday night game. But picking the best TV service to help you do that shouldn’t be a game-time decision.
That’s why you have us. Here’s everything you need to know about watching Thursday Night Football (TNF) this season.
Thursday Night Football schedule—2018
What channel is Thursday Night Football on? Well, it depends on the week.
All TNF games are slated for broadcast on the NFL Network. Select games will also be simulcast on FOX and Prime Video.
We’ve broken down which teams are playing Thursday Night Football each week and where you can watch each game.
The 2018 Thursday Night Football TV Schedule
Games start at 8:20 p.m. ET, TV as listed
Sept. 13 Ravens at Bengals (NFLN)
Sept. 20 Jets at Browns (NFLN)
Sept. 27 Vikings at Rams (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Oct. 4 Colts at Patriots (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Oct. 11 Eagles at Giants (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Oct. 18 Broncos at Cardinals (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Oct. 25 Dolphins at Texans (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Nov. 1 Raiders at 49ers (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Nov 8 Panthers at Steelers (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Nov. 15 Packers at Seahawks (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Nov. 29 Saints at Cowboys (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Dec. 6 Jaguars at Titans (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
Dec. 13 Chargers at Chiefs (Fox/NFLN/Prime Video)
NOTE: This covers only regular season games. For more information on Thursday Night Football preseason games, check out our NFL preseason guide.
We also don’t include the NFL Kickoff Game or the Thanksgiving night game because even though those games take place on Thursday, they’re inexplicably considered part of Sunday Night Football.
But don’t worry—we are including a Sunday game from London in Week 8 and a few Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 because they are included in TNF. Aren’t broadcast rights fun?
Best ways to watch Thursday Night Football
Most Thursday Night Football games this season are going to be broadcast on FOX, but if you’re committed to getting every TNF matchup, you’ve got to get a service that offers the NFL Network. Fortunately, all of our top picks get you just that.
PlayStation Vue is our top choice because of its reliability. The last thing you want this season is glitching in the middle of a high-stakes play. PlayStation Vue offers one of the best user experiences we’ve seen from a streaming provider, so you can count on your TNF streams being smooth and clear.
Sling TV is the cheapest way to get every Thursday game, but it’s our runner-up because it’s not always reliable. It tends to glitch more than other services, its interface is harder to use, and its picture quality leaves a lot to be desired. But if you’ve got a strong internet connection and you absolutely need every Thursday Night Football game, it’s a decent low-cost option.
Prime Video is the cheapest option on our list, but it offers only 11 out of 18 TNF games this season. That makes it perfect for casual NFL viewers but less-than-ideal for fantasy football players and hardcore fans.
DIRECTV gets you every single NFL game this season. With the CHOICE™ package, you get the NFL Network, your local CBS, FOX, and NBC channels, and every out-of-market Sunday game on NFL SUNDAY TICKET (which is included for new DIRECTV subscribers this season with a CHOICE™ package and above).
We don’t love DIRECTV’s 24-month contract and obscene price hikes after 12 months, but the unfettered NFL access may make it a good pick for dedicated football fans.
#1 PlayStation Vue: A reliable way to catch every Thursday night game
What we like: Reliability and high-quality picture
Drawbacks: More expensive than other options
Who it’s perfect for: Cord-cutters who want don’t want to deal with streaming glitches
If you’re wondering where to stream Thursday Night Football, our number-one choice is PlayStation Vue.
PlayStation (which owns PS Vue) has invested heavily in its livestreaming technology, so its livestreams are reliable on just about any type of internet connection.That’s perfect for football fans. After all, how are you supposed to know which colorful names to call the ref if your stream goes fuzzy and you can’t see the play?
PlayStation Vue is a little on the expensive side, though, so if you’re more of a casual fan and don’t want to make a big investment in your football streaming, you may want to try Sling TV or Prime Video instead.
PlayStation Vue pricing
In order to get every Thursday Night Football game this season, you need the NFL Network. And to get the NFL Network with PlayStation Vue, you need the Core package, which costs $49.99 per month.
That’s a bit pricey, especially compared to other streaming services like Sling TV or Prime Video. But if skipping a game just isn’t an option and you want to avoid glitching, Prime and Sling probably aren’t the right choice..
Of course, if you want reliability but don’t necessarily need every game, you can always get PlayStation Vue’s Access package. It’s $5 less per month and lets you watch Thursday night games on FOX—assuming PS Vue offers a FOX livestream in your area, of course (you can check that by entering your ZIP code here).
PlayStation Vue offers a top-notch user experience for TNF viewers
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—PlayStation Vue is one of the most reliable streaming services we’ve tested so far. And that makes it an ideal choice for football fans.
But that’s not the only benefit to watching Thursday Night Football on PlayStation Vue. The service also offers a user-friendly interface and a channel guide that’s pretty similar to what you get with cable.
So if you’re trying to figure out when Thursday Night Football starts next week, you can just pop over to the guide and find everything you need. Don’t know about you, but it’s great not to have to think too much when we’re on a football high.
PlayStation Vue DVR
We love unlimited stuff. And you know who else loves unlimited stuff? PlayStation Vue.
PlayStation Vue has one of the best DVRs around—’cause it’s unlimited. It lets you record as many shows (or NFL games) as you want with literally no storage limits. So if you miss a Thursday game, it’s no problem. You can just catch up on it when you get home.
The trick is PlayStation Vue’s DVR will hang on to your recordings for only 28 days. We don’t know why you’d need to hang on to a football game for longer than four weeks (but you do you). That said, if your household uses the DVR for other shows, that 28-day limit could be a deal breaker.
PlayStation Vue device compatibility
A lot of people think PlayStation Vue is only for PlayStation owners. Let us put that to bed for you.
You can actually use PlayStation Vue on a ton of different devices—not just on PlayStation consoles.
#2 Sling TV: All Thursday Night Football games for less
What we like: Cheap pricing for unlimited Thursday night games
Drawbacks: Occasional glitching and barebones channel selection
Who it’s perfect for: Football fans who need every TNF game for less
If you want to get every game, Sling TV is the cheapest way to watch Thursday Night Football online.
Sling TV prides itself on being the à la carte streaming service, with packages that help you avoid paying for channels you’ll never watch. That means you can easily get the NFL Network (and every Thursday Night Football game) for a lot less than you’d pay with other providers.
Of course, if you’re looking for a reliable option, you might want to just move along. We’ve put in the testing time and noticed Sling TV tends to glitch more than other providers. Plus, its picture quality isn’t the greatest.
A lot of those issues evaporate if you’re using a good internet connection, though, so we feel pretty good about recommending Sling as a runner-up to PlayStation Vue. Just stay on the lookout for quality issues and be sure to take advantage of that sweet free trial period to make sure it works for you.
Sling TV pricing
To get every Thursday Night Football game on the NFL Network, you’ll need to sign up for the Sling Blue package. Like we said, it’s pretty affordable ($25 per month), so it should fit into just about any household’s budget. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.
But keep in mind that the Sling Blue package doesn’t include ESPN. So football fans who want both Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football will need to upgrade to the Sling Orange + Blue package. It’s $40 per month—a lot closer to what you’d pay with PlayStation Vue.
Honestly, we’d gladly pay $10 more per month to avoid all the glitchiness you get with Sling TV. But hey, that’s just us.
Watching Thursday Night Football is a bit harder with Sling TV
You may think that if you can just get the NFL Network, watching Thursday Night Football will be no problem. But with Sling TV’s livestreaming issues, you may wind up wishing it was actually that simple.
Sling TV tends to glitch, so if you try to rewind a few seconds to rewatch a big play, it might get stuck and take you back to the beginning of the game. It’s also not great in terms of picture quality. It often gets grainy, which can make it hard to tell whether or not your running back actually managed to convert to a first down.
Oh, and if you’re hoping to watch Sunday games on CBS through Sling TV, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Sling doesn’t offer local channels in most areas, and it doesn’t offer CBS at all. To get those games, you’d need to add an over-the-air antenna to your service, which means switching TV inputs and buying another device up front.
Long story short, Sling TV’s not our top pick for watching Thursday Night Football.
But we think the low price makes it worth at least checking out the 7-day free trial. If your internet connection is strong enough to ward off any major issues, you’ll score a great deal. If not—well, you can always cancel.
Sling TV DVR
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noticed a theme: Sling TV makes big promises about customization and money-saving, but the reality is you often wind up paying more to get a half-cocked version of what you need.
Sling TV’s DVR is more of the same. Sling packages don’t include a DVR. Instead, you have to get a DVR add-on for an extra $5 per month. Even then, you get only 50 hours of storage—not great value considering PlayStation Vue gets you unlimited storage, and you don’t have to pay extra for it. #NotImpressed
To be fair, Sling TV costs less than PlayStation Vue, even after you factor in the $5 DVR upgrade. So Sling TV could still be the better pick for you if you’re more focused on cutting costs than on recording every game.
Sling TV device compatibility
Sling TV is available on tons of devices, including the big ones like Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
#3 Prime Video: Most Thursday night games for the lowest price
What we like: Super affordable price
Drawbacks: Doesn’t include every Thursday night game
Who it’s perfect for: Casual NFL fans who don’t mind missing a game here and there
Starting in 2017, Amazon signed a deal with the NFL Network that allowed the company to show livestreams of select regular season Thursday Night Football games on its streaming service, Prime Video. And it’s showing 11 out of 18 TNF games this season.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t actually need Amazon Prime to get the Prime Video library. You can get TNF livestreams and all of Amazon’s on-demand streaming content separately, and it costs almost a third of what you’d pay with Sling TV.
Now, if you’re a die-hard fan who needs every Thursday game, this may not be the best option for you. But if you’re more of a casual fan, Prime Video is definitely the cheapest way to stream Thursday Night Football.
Prime Video pricing
Amazon offers a few Prime plans at different price points.
For Prime Video alone, you’ll pay $8.99 per month. That definitely makes Prime Video the cheapest option on our list, even if it doesn’t get you every game.
Then there’s the regular Amazon Prime subscription (which is what we’d sign up for if it was us). It includes Prime Video, free 2-day shipping on Amazon purchases, unlimited music streaming on Prime Music, free e-book downloads through the Prime Library, and tons of other perks. We think it’s well worth the $12.99 per month price tag.
Or there’s the annual Prime subscription, which costs $119 up front for the whole year. If you do the math, that’s only $12 more than you’d pay for Prime Video alone over the course of a year. And it’s about $36 less than you’d pay for Prime if you opt for a monthly subscription. Cha-ching.
Livestreaming Thursday Night Football on Prime Video
For a long time, Amazon stuck to on-demand streaming. These days, it’s branching out and offering more livestreams, especially for big events, fights, and in-demand games.
Still, it’s easy to see livestreaming isn’t Amazon’s bread and butter. In the past, Prime Video livestreams have been okay but nothing to write home about. The livestreams are definitely more prone to glitching and buffering than the on-demand content.
We’ll have to wait and see if Prime’s Thursday Night Football streams have the same issues this season, but don’t hold your breath that it’ll be much better than last year.
You also have to keep in mind that Amazon tends to snatch up live events like they’re the last donuts in the box, but Prime Video doesn’t actually offer any live channels (like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV do). So you’ll get the 11 Thursday night games Prime Video has the rights to, but that’s the only live football you’ll get.
That could change as the season goes on, but as of right now, don’t expect to get the Super Bowl on Prime Video.
Prime Video DVR
Prime Video is mostly just on-demand content, so it doesn’t offer a DVR.
In other words, if you’re looking to record any games from the 2018 NFL season, you’re barking up the wrong tree with Prime Video. You’d probably be a lot happier with PlayStation Vue.
Prime Video device compatibility
Prime Video is available on tons of devices, but it does have one big weakness: it’s not compatible with Google Chromecast. It comes down to an ongoing game of chicken between Google and Amazon. Real mature, right? But it doesn’t look like either company is going to blink anytime soon, so you’ll have to pick one of the following devices.
DIRECTV: A good choice for the die-hard football fan
What we like: NFL SUNDAY TICKET lets you watch every out-of-market Sunday game
Drawbacks: Rate hikes and contracts
Who it’s perfect for: NFL fans who have to watch every game, all season long
When we made our rankings for watching Thursday Night Football, it was really hard not to put DIRECTV in our top three.
DIRECTV offers the NFL Network with its CHOICE™ package and higher. You’ll also get ESPN and virtually every local channel in the country. So that’s your Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night, and your in-market Sunday afternoon football covered right there.
The cherry on top of this delicious football sundae is new customers with a CHOICE™ package and higher can also get this season’s NFL SUNDAY TICKET included with their package. This add-on delivers every out-of-market Sunday game. Yep. It’s huge for anyone who’s a major football fan.
So why didn’t DIRECTV make it into our top three? Well, we’re not huge fans of DIRECTV’s 2-year contract. Or the fact that your price more than doubles after 12 months. Or of how much NFL SUNDAY TICKET costs after your first year.
Now, if you’re gung ho about football and really want to watch every single game, DIRECTV might be worth the extra cost and hidden fees—especially if streaming isn’t an option because of your internet connection or where you live. If you’ve got the funds, go for it.
And then there’s cable
To see which cable providers are available in your area (and find out more about each one), enter your ZIP code here.
Get in your stance and rep your team
If football does, in fact, make you lose control and you’ve got to get every Thursday night game, let us know what you use to watch them. We’d like to think that we know everything about watching TNF, but we’d love to hear if there’s anything you think we’ve missed. Cheers.