An illustration of a laptop and a football.

Some football fans might be looking for a new way to watch the Super Bowl this year. That's because so many of us have ditched our cable or satellite TV providers in favor of lower-cost alternatives. In fact, some 6.3 million people cut the pay-TV cord in just the past 12 months, according to investment research firm Moffett Nathanson.

But you don't need a cable or satellite connection to watch the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa Bay, Fla.

The game will be broadcast on CBS and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. You can watch the game free of charge if you have an antenna and good reception in your area. You can check the TV reception maps on the FCC’s website to see which stations are available in your area. Just try any antenna well in advance of the game, because both the model and the topography where you live can really affect reception.

A newer option for many people this year is watching the game on Locast, a service that streams over-the-air broadcast channels free via the internet.

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Though some earlier TV-for-free ventures, such as Aereo, were shut down after losing legal challenges from broadcasters, Locast is a nonprofit company and is operating under an exception in federal copyright laws that lets it rebroadcast over-the-air channels. Instead of charging consumers directly, Locast asks for donations. In fact, your programming will get interrupted every 15 minutes or so unless you make a $5-a-month donation.

Locast, too, was been sued by the broadcasters, back in 2019, but so far the courts have allowed it to keep operating while the case is being decided.

Right now it's available in almost two dozen metro markets, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., among others.

Unfortunately, ESPN Deportes isn't available via an antenna or Locast; you'll need to subscribe to either a pay-TV or streaming service. More on that below.

Apps and Services

You can also watch the Super Bowl free of charge on CBSSports.com or the CBS Sports app for mobile and connected TV devices, such as Apple TV and Roku, and some smart TVs.

And you can use two other mobile apps, the NFL app—which used to be exclusive to Verizon customers but is now available to everyone—or the Yahoo Sports app. Both of these are also free.

You can also watch the game on your TV if you're a CBS All Access subscriber. This is a streaming service from parent company ViacomCBS that costs just $6 a month. Beyond sports, it offers live TV from CBS, original shows such as "The Good Fight" and "Star Trek," and content from Viacom properties such as Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, and MTV.

CBS broadcasts are also available on several of the live TV streaming subscription services, namely AT&T TV Now, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV. ESPN Desportes is available as an add-on through a number of services for a fee. Just note that live CBS broadcasts may not be available in every market, so make sure the service offers it in your area first.

Remember that all these streaming services offer free trials, so you can check them out ahead of time to make sure you’ll be able to get the game.

Streaming Devices to Consider

Streaming services and apps that let you watch the game are available on many, but not all, newer smart TVs. But if you have an older set, or one that doesn't support a service or app you want, consider adding a streaming media player such as an Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, or Roku.

These add-on devices don't cost much—basic HD models start at about $25 or $30—and they might outperform or be easier to use than your television's own smart platform. 

In fact, in a recent online national survey, we found that 60 percent of respondents with a smart TV ended up using an external streaming device instead of the TV's built-in system.

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NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

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Roku Ultra 2020

Price: $100

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