Young couple celebrating while watching college football on TV at home
Cheerful boyfriend and girlfriend watching American football match together on television at home

As the NCAA college football playoffs approach, fans are gearing up to witness the epic showdowns of the four-team field, and the stakes could not be higher. Last season gave us two incredible semifinal games. Both were high-scoring affairs with TCU defeating Michigan and Georgia topping Ohio State. This led to the Georgia Bulldogs becoming the national champion after their dominant performance over TCU.

This year, the key storyline has been the selection committee’s controversial snubbing of undefeated Florida State. As a result, each of the four selected teams is looking to prove it deserves to step onto the field of NRG Stadium in Houston and take home the iconic four-laced trophy.

If you’re wondering how to watch the college football playoffs and the highly anticipated National Championship in a safe, legal way, you’re in the right place. This guide will explore the channels, schedule, providers, and streaming services, both free and paid, that will let you catch all the action without resorting to illegal streaming methods.

Channels and Schedule

This year, Pasadena’s Rose Bowl pits the undefeated Michigan Wolverines against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Similarly, fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Washington Huskies and Texas Longhorns to the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Both the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be held on Monday, Jan. 1, with kickoffs at 5 PM ET and 8:45 PM ET, respectively. The winners will head to Houston on Jan. 8 for the final showdown at 7:30 PM ET. Check out the breakdown below:

  • Rose Bowl (Semifinal): No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Alabama, Monday, Jan. 1 at 5:00 PM ET
  • Sugar Bowl (Semifinal): No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas, Monday, Jan. 1 at 8:45 PM ET
  • CFP National Championship Game: Monday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 PM ET

Both semifinal games and the National Championship will be broadcast on ESPN, but there’s more than one way to stream the playoffs and enjoy the action.

Providers and Streaming Services

You have several options to watch the NCAA college football playoffs, including traditional cable providers and online streaming services. Here are some reputable providers and services you can use:

Cable Providers

If you have a cable subscription, tune in to ESPN on the specified dates and times to catch each game.


DirecTV: DirecTV lets you capture the best moments of college sports and the NFL. If you can’t catch a game live, DirecTV offers over 200 hours of HD DVR recordings via satellite and unlimited hours via the cloud.

Dish Network: Dish keeps the energy high, no matter where you go. With Dish, you can view up to four shows on one screen, and you can live stream 100% of your sports channels from anywhere. 

Streaming Services

ESPN+: ESPN’s streaming service offers a convenient way to watch the playoffs online. ESPN+ is available as a standalone service and provides access to a wide range of sports content, including the college football playoff selection show, ESPN’s “30 for 30” docuseries, and originals.

DirecTV Stream: As DirecTV’s installation-free counterpart, DirecTV Stream offers unlimited DVR cloud storage with no contracts and no commitments, allowing you to live stream all your favorite college and NFL games.

Hulu + Live TV: If you’re looking for a bigger bundle, Hulu offers live TV streaming with access to ESPN+, Disney+, and more. Subscribers can watch the college football playoffs in real time, combining the convenience of on-demand content with live sports.

YouTube TV: YouTube TV is another excellent option to watch the college football playoffs, providing access to ESPN and other popular channels. YouTube TV is a comprehensive streaming service with a user-friendly interface, and unlike other platforms, YouTube TV allows subscribers to record their favorite content and store it with unlimited DVR space. It also offers a free trial.

Sling TV: Sling TV offers ESPN as part of its channel lineup, with tons of live sports, news, and entertainment. Choose the appropriate package to ensure access to the playoffs and enjoy the flexibility of streaming both college football and the NFL on various devices.

Fubo: With ESPN as part of the Fubo channel lineup, you can enjoy all the playoff matchups. Plus, with local channels, you can also catch many of the other NCAA bowl games.

Free Viewing Options

For those looking for free and legal streaming options, there are a few avenues to explore. ESPN occasionally offers free trials for its streaming services, allowing you to enjoy the college football playoffs without committing to a long-term subscription.

You can also check if your cable provider offers a streaming app or website that allows you to watch ESPN live. Some providers even include online streaming as part of their package, giving you access to the playoffs at no extra cost.

ESPN+DirecTV StreamHulu + Live TVYouTube TVSling TVFubo
Does it Offer a Free Trial?NoYesYesYesNoYes

Additional Resources and Safety Measures

Sports, especially large sporting events like this, are often pirated. It’s important to avoid any illegal streaming services and websites that claim to offer free streams of sporting events. We’ll help you identify the signs of illegal websites, understand the risks of piracy, and more.

Stream Safely, Every Time

Now that you know where and how to watch sports safely, you can enjoy the games stress-free. Remember to prioritize legal and secure options whether you opt for a paid streaming service or take advantage of free trials.

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