Your guide to watching and streaming every Carolina Panthers game without cable

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Mike McCarn/The Associated Press
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1)

If you’re a cord cutter and a sports fan — and if you’ve stumbled across this article, odds are you and I are the same — there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to watch the local team play ball from the comfort of your couch.

The NFL doesn’t offer to sell fans on a streaming-only package the way MLB (MLB.tv), the NBA (League Pass) and NHL do, and even then, you can’t watch your local team thanks to blackout restrictions. As recently as three years ago, your only real option if you wanted to stream Panthers games was to wait until they played on Sunday or Monday nights and call your parents to ask for their cable login.

As a cord-cutter myself, and The Charlotte Observer’s new sports editor learning and navigating a new market, I put together a guide for what I feel are the options to stream Carolina Panthers games this season.

Two to know before we begin: These are legal options. As someone who works in media and would love you to buy our Sports Pass for $30/year of unlimited access to Charlotte and Raleigh sports coverage, I can’t in good conscious help you circumvent any of your streaming payment going back to the TV networks. Additionally, it’s important to understand that this is for Panthers fans living in local market. If you’re living outside of the region, your local Fox and CBS affiliates are going to show you games tailored to your market.

Spectrum TV choice

Yes, it’s Spectrum, the local cable company, but if Panthers games are the only thing you want to pay for, this isn’t a bad option. In fact, it’s one of two options (and the cheapest) that will get you every game this season. I was cold-called after getting my Internet service set up attempting to up-sell me an a la carte TV streaming package — something cord-cutters have been wanting for years. I decided to test out the one-week free trial.

For $19.99 the first month and $29.99/month after that, you get all of your local channels plus your choice of 10 of the 77 “most popular” cable networks, including the NFL Network, to stream from your smartphone, Roku or compatible Smart TV, Xbox One, etc.

There are drawbacks. There’s no Chromecast support, streaming is reportedly restricted to 30 frames per second and regional sports networks aren’t included — if you’re wanting to watch the Hornets or Hurricanes, you’ll have to switch to a Hulu or YouTube package once their seasons begin in the fall.

Hulu + Live TV

Ten of the Panthers’ 16 games this season are on Fox, and the only local channel in Charlotte that Hulu omits from its local live listings on its website is Fox 46 Charlotte (WJZY). But a quick call to their newsroom cleared up any confusion — WJZY is available on Hulu.

The Hulu + Live TV base package (which means no enhanced DVR) will cost you $45/month, but includes a basic Hulu subscription ($6/month value) and regional Fox Sports affiliates (Hello, Hornets and Canes!), the Big Ten Network, ESPN/2/U, SEC Network, the ACC Network and the CBS Sports Network (a personal must-have for Mountain West football). No NFL Network means you won’t be able to see the Panthers in either game vs. the Bucs.

You can sign up and see the full channel lineup for Hulu + Live TV here. It offers a one-week free trial.

YouTube TV

Like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV delivers all of the local Charlotte broadcast affiliates, regional Fox Sports and most of the same sports offerings Hulu does, in addition to NBA TV and the MLB Network. It will cost you more than the Hulu offering, $50/month, but has unlimited DVR space. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any extra Google services, such as the ad-free experience of YouTube Premium, for the price.

You can sign up and see the full channel lineup for YouTube TV here. At time of publication, a two-week free trial was being offered.

There are other streaming options, such as PlayStation Vue and Fubo TV, but their cost for entry at $50 and $55/month, respectively, for the cheapest packages makes them hard to justify against the competition. For Panthers fans, Fubo does have NFL Network, so you would also be able to see all 16 regular-season games using that platform. Sling’s “Blue” package ($15 for the first month and $25/month after that) does include the NFL Network but lacks local networks in the Charlotte market.

Panthers.com (preseason only)

For fans in the Panthers’ market, which extends from Norfolk, Va., through Savannah, Ga., you can stream the preseason games for free on Panthers.com.

Over the air

You could also buy a digital antenna. It’s a one-time cost rather than a monthly fee, you’ll get all of your local channels and it’s the closest to truly watching “live” sports on TV as you can get (cable, satellite and streaming all have significantly longer delays — even if it is just mere seconds — in what you see on your screen vs. when it actually happened than an antenna). Note you cannot get NFL Network over the air.

There are drawbacks to an antenna. Based on where you are, your signal strength will vary, you can only watch on the one TV the antenna is connected to and you’ll have an ugly cable running from your TV to wherever you place the antenna. However, the easy setup and not having to create an account are a fair tradeoff. Plus, the picture quality can be outstanding.

Panthers NFL streaming schedule

Below is a week-by-week guide for which streaming platforms will carry Panthers games this season.

  • Preseason Week 1, at Chicago Bears (WSOC): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo, Panthers.com
  • Preseason Week 2, Buffalo Bills (WSOC): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo, Panthers.com
  • Preseason Week 3, at New England Patriots (WSOC): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo, Panthers.com
  • Preseason Week 4, Pittsburgh Steelers (WSOC): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo, Panthers.com
  • Week 1, Los Angeles Rams (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 2, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL): Sling Blue, Fubo
  • Week 3, at Arizona Cardinals (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 4, at Houston Texans (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 5, Jacksonville Jaguars (CBS): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 6, Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London (NFL): Sling Blue, Fubo
  • Week 7: Bye
  • Week 8, at San Francisco 49ers (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 9, Tennessee Titans (CBS): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 10, at Green Bay Packers (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 11, Atlanta Falcons (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 12, at New Orleans Saints (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 13, Washington Redskins (CBS): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 14, at Atlanta Falcons (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 15, Seattle Seahawks (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 16, at Indianapolis Colts (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo
  • Week 17, New Orleans Saints (FOX): Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV Choice, PS Vue, Fubo

This article originally published in The Charlotte Observer.

3 COMMENTS

  1. You can also order NFL SUNDAY TICKET Online Streaming from DIRECTV without having to purchase any Cable/Sat subscription. It is also lower than any of the above options for the season. Eligibilty requirement of not being able to obtain DIRECTV subscriptions apply. Should be noted that most every CLT area apartment or condo building resident would be eligible.

    Note I am not affiliated with DIRECTV in any way, shape or form.

  2. In the past the games on the NFL Network or ESPN have been shown in the local Charlotte market on WSOC(9) or WCCB (18).

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