Both coming off playoff appearances–and subsequent narrow wild-card round defeats–last year, the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers begin 2018 preseason play Thursday night at New Era Field.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, here’s a rundown of all your live stream options, depending on whether the game is in your market or not:
If The Game is Televised in Your Market
First, check to see what local channel the game is on in your area–it will be either ABC, CBS, CW, Fox or NBC. Then, if you sign up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services, you’ll be able to watch a live stream of one, some, or all of those channels, depending on the service:
(Note that local channels are available live in select markets)
Local channels included: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC
In addition to its massive Netflix-like library of on-demand movies and TV shows, Hulu also offers a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels, which includes ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of any of those channels on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
If you can’t watch the game live, “Hulu with Live TV” also comes with 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage (with the ability to upgrade to “Enhanced Cloud DVR,” which gives you 200 hours of DVR space and the ability to fast forward through commercials).
Local channels included: CBS
If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch all CBS content (both live and on-demand) via the CBS Amazon Channel, which also comes with a 7-day free trial.
Once you’re signed up for both Amazon Prime and the CBS channel, you can then watch a live stream of your local CBS channel on your computer via the Amazon website, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
Local channels included: CBS, CW, Fox, NBC
A streaming service that is largely tailored towards sports fans, FuboTV includes CBS, CW, Fox and NBC. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial right here, and you can then watch a live stream of those channels on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
If you can’t watch the game live, FuboTV also comes with 30 hours of Cloud DVR (with the ability to upgrade to 500 hours), as well as a “72-Hour Lookback” feature, which allows you to watch games and shows up to three days after they air even if you forgot to record them. The main FuboTV channel package also comes with NFL Network, which will air a replay of every preseason game.
Local channels included: Fox, NBC
Fox and NBC are both included in the “Sling Blue” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch a live stream of either channel on your computer via the Sling website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
If you can’t watch live, you can get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage as an additional add-on. “Sling Blue” also comes with the NFL Network, which will air a replay of every preseason game, so you can also watch that way if you miss it live.
If The Game is Not Televised in Your Market
You can watch every out-of-market preseason NFL game online via NFL Game Pass, which costs $99.99 for the season (or four installments of $29.99). Once signed up, you can watch games on your computer via the Game Pass website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the NFL app.
For the first week of preseason, you will typically only see the starters for a series or two, the playcalling is pretty bland, and a significant portion of the game will be played by players who aren’t likely on the roster a month from now.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to watch.
For the Panthers, rookie wide receiver DJ Moore and rookie cornerback Donte Jackson are set for their first real NFL game action after being selected in the first and second round, respectively, and this could also serve as the Panthers debuts for free-agent additions such as Torrey Smith and Dontari Poe. The veterans, though, are less likely to play much.
It’s also a first look at the offensive with Norv Turner on the Panthers sideline. After taking last year off, the veteran coach took was hired as the team’s new offensive coordinator in January, joining his son, Scott, who is Carolina’s quarterbacks coach.
Again, teams won’t reveal too many complex looks during the preseason, but you can still get an idea of what the Panthers offense will look like under Turner.
“We are trying to build a complete offense and that will include things they have done here and it will include things they haven’t done here,” he said.
For Buffalo, all eyes will be on the quarterback position, where there are a couple candidates to fill the void under center after Tyrod Taylor was traded to Cleveland. There’s A.J. McCarron, who has spent the entirety of his career as a backup in Cincy before signing with the Bills in the offseason. And there’s rookie Josh Allen, a physically gifted but erratic prospect who the Bills traded up to the seventh overall pick for. There’s also Nathan Peterman, who got some playing time last year but struggled.
It appears as though, for now at least, McCarron is atop the depth chart.
But with one guy (McCarron) who has attempted 14 regular-season passes over the last two seasons, and another (Allen) who is extremely raw, the preseason will prove very important in evaluating where they stand. That starts Thursday against Carolina’s very good defense.