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It’s getting more and more expensive to watch the NFL on TV

Ten years ago, when the NFL was facing political pressure to scrap the blackout rule, the league responded with a clumsy campaign to protect free football on TV.

The argument never made sense. The league wanted to retain the ability to not televise games in the home market if they weren’t sold out. If anything, that rule compromised free football on TV.

A decade later. free football on TV is becoming more and more compromised. For reasons unrelated to the death of the blackout rule.

With Netflix stealing two Christmas games from the existing broadcast partners, fans who want to watch all NFL games and related content now need to have access to a broad range of channels and services.

For Sunday afternoons and evenings, CBS, Fox, and NBC are a must. They’re still free via local affiliates, if you have the right equipment to capture the signal (and live within range of it). They’re also part of most cable packages and live-TV streaming services.

For the periodic Sunday morning games from Europe, you need NFL Network for some of the games and ESPN+ for at least one of them.

For all out-of-market Sunday games, you need Sunday Ticket through YouTube. Or RedZone, if you want to play hopscotch with your football viewing.

For most Monday night games, you need ESPN. (Some of the games will be televised on ABC.) For Thursday night games, Amazon Prime is the exclusive home.

For the first Friday night game of the year, Peacock. For Christmas, Netflix.

Beyond games, you need HBO/Max for three (and perhaps counting) iterations of Hard Knocks.

It’s a lot. And while there’s still as much “free” weekly content as always (two Sunday afternoon windows and one prime-time window), the other stuff is not free.

That said, all of the cable or streaming games remain available on traditional, over-the-air channels in the local markets of the involved teams. To see everything, however, it’s going to cost a pretty penny.

This year, it will cost more pennies than ever before. To see everything, you need access to NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, Sunday Ticket, NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN+, Peacock, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.