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The Armchair Quarterback’s Guide to Iowa Football In 2019

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So you want to watch the Hawkeyes from the comfort of your own home, eh? We’ve still got you covered.

Watching The Super Bowl
Whether you’re watching the NFL or college football, you’re going to have some tough decisions to ensure you get all the channels you want.

A week ago, we gave you our annual guide to tailgating in Iowa City. If you’re coming to Iowa City even for one game, it’s worth a read. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, give the comments a check to see if others have ideas you missed or if there’s some knowledge you can drop on the rest of us.

But we can’t all make it to every game. Sometimes things come up. Maybe you live in Arizona now. Maybe you have a “friend” who decided to get married on a fall Saturday (really, Karen? You both went to Iowa and you couldn’t even pick the bye week? WTF?!?). Or maybe you’re like me and have a newborn at home and would rather not endure wrath for several months by heading out to every game.

Whatever the reason, if you’re planning to watch a game or two from the comfort of your own home this season instead of making the trek to Iowa City, here’s what you need to know.

The Schedule

Before you start setting the DVR or investigating your options for cutting the cord, you’re going to need to take a look at the schedule for this season. While it’s not totally set in stone in terms of start times and networks, we know quite a bit.

Here’s a look:

2019 Iowa Football Schedule

Date Time (CT) Opponent TV
Date Time (CT) Opponent TV
August 31, 2019 6:30 PM Miami (OH) FS1
September 7, 2019 11:00 AM Rutgers FS1
September 14, 2019 3:00 PM at Iowa State FS1
September 28, 2019 TBD Middle Tennessee State TBD
October 5, 2019 11:00 AM at Michigan TBD
October 12, 2019 TBD Penn State TBD
October 19, 2019 11:00 AM Purdue TBD
October 26, 2019 11:00 AM at Northwestern TBD
November 9, 2019 TBD at Wisconsin TBD
November 16, 2019 TBD Minnesot TBD
November 23, 2019 TBD Illinois TBD
November 29, 2019 (FRI) 1:30 PM at Nebraska BTN

So a couple things of note here. First of all, a good chunk of the season’s games don’t yet have start times, but we can pretty much guess what a bunch of them will be. Who here thinks that Middle Tennessee State game will be anything other than an 11am start? Didn’t think so. There have also been a lot of STRONG hints that Penn State matchup will be a night game.

So if we plug those two in, you’re set on start times through the end of October and only have 3 games left to guess on. Not bad. You can make your lawn mowing, birthday party attending and wedding skipping plans accordingly.

The Channels

If you aren’t going to make the games live, I’m going to assume you’re going to be watching somehow, some way. I get it, you might have to sit in the last pew at church with the tiny headphones to catch the end of that 11am game while you’re at your “friend’s” wedding, but by and large we’re watching when we can.

To do that, the most important thing after when the game is will be how we can watch. That starts with the channel lineup.

As you can see from the above schedule, most of the games don’t yet have a designated channel. That’s pretty common for Iowa until a few weeks out from the later season games. The other thing you likely noticed is the first three games are played on FS1. I’ll let you form your own opinion of the channel and the amount of exposure it gives the Hawkeyes vs. say ESPN, but it’s kind of nice just knowing all your games are in one place.

Beyond those first three, the only other game with a network assigned is the Black Friday matchup with Nebraska. That will be on BTN. Hooray.

So we’re just left watching and waiting, right? Wrong. The Big Ten has agreements with only a select number of networks. That may not be much help if you’re currently trying to set your DVR for the Penn State game, but that seems a bit silly anyway.

All of Iowa’s games this season will be broadcast on one of the following:

BTN
FS1
FOX
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNU
ABC

Put more simply, all of Iowa’s games will be on one of the ABC family of networks or one of the FOX ones. Which one will be determined roughly 10 days out in most cases.

The Options

So let’s get right down to it, if you’re here, it probably isn’t because you are curious what channel this week’s game is on and how to find it on your DirecTV or Mediacom. No, you’re here because you’ve either already cut the cord or you’ve been thinking about it for 6 months but are as nervous as my 4 year old in church thinking about going into the unknown just as football season kicks off.

I hear you.

It’s intimidating and there’s a lot to think about. But from exclusively the “I want to watch Iowa games and to hell with the rest of it” standpoint, here’s what you’ll need to look for.

The big players in the streaming market include YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, AT&T Now, Sling TV, Fubo TV and Philo. They vary in price and channel offerings in ways that are likely to drive you nuts.

The above channels are all part of two families of networks, but there are limited options for finding them on the same package if you’re looking to save money vs. cable/dish. For instance, ATT Now, which I personally subscribe to, does not offer BTN in its base package. Sling TV doesn’t offer it at all. And Fubo doesn’t offer all the ESPNs.

Which ones do? YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue (friendly reminder, you don’t need to own a PlayStation to use this). YTV is slightly cheaper at $50 a month and it comes with unlimited DVR for 9 months so you could record every game this season and just about anything else your heart desires and store it until your newborn arrives. PSVue is $5 a month more expensive and its DVR limits storage to one month, but it also allows for 5 simultaneous streams (vs. 3 on YTV) which may be important if your newborns are actually teens.

On the surface, those are the two most compelling options exclusively for being able to watch Iowa football in 2019 without dish or cable.

2019 Iowa Fan Streaming Options

Provider Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) YouTube TV ($50) Hulu with Live TV ($45) PS Vue ($50) Fubo TV ($55) AT&T Now ($50)
Provider Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) YouTube TV ($50) Hulu with Live TV ($45) PS Vue ($50) Fubo TV ($55) AT&T Now ($50)
Total channels: 35 24 37 56 58 47 55 38
Base Cost For Iowa Fan NA NA NA $50 $45 $55 $45 $70
ABC No No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
CBS No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Big Ten Network No No No Yes Yes $ Yes $
CBS Sports Network No No No Yes Yes $ Yes $
ESPN No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
ESPN 2 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
ESPNEWS No $ No Yes Yes $ No $
ESPNU No $ No Yes Yes $ No $
Fox Sports 1 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $
NBC Sports Network No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFL Network No No Yes No No $ Yes No
NFL Red Zone No No $ No No $ $ No
NHL Network No $ $ No No No No No
SEC Network No $ No Yes Yes $ No $
TBS No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TNT No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TruTV No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

But what if you want more?

Of course you want more! Beyond the Iowa games, it’s all going to come down to personal preference and this is where you’re going to have to make some hard decisions. For me, I ended up spending some extra money each month because I was playing catch up on 7 seasons of Game of Thrones (HBO is included in all ATT Now packages) and my two toddlers are all in on Nickelodeon.

But maybe you’re a big NFL guy and getting RedZone is super important. Sling has some cheap options to get you access, but if you were close on PS Vue already, the inclusion of NFL Network and RedZone channel (with an additional $10/mo) should probably put it over the edge.

Or maybe you just want to have the option to flip back and forth between as many college football games as possible (or just watch them simultaneously on your phone, tablet, computer and tv?). If that’s the case, maybe you care less about NFL Network and RedZone and more about ensuring you get things like the SEC Network, PAC-12 Network and CBS Sports Network.

Or maybe you want all that but would be pretty excited about being able to watch multiple games at once on one device. If that’s the case, you probably look long and hard at PlayStation Vue with it’s ability to watch 4 channels simultaneously through “multi-view” on Apple TV. Not going to lie, being able to throw 4 games on at once (and really, you could do more than that with multiple devices) sounds pretty amazing heading into week one.

Devices

One thing that’s important to investigate before you get all signed up is what devices will actually work with which services. Most of the providers mentioned above play nice with most streaming devices, but there are exceptions.

For me, this played a role in my decision to start with DirecTV Now/AT&T Now. Through all my initial backwork, I had decided on YouTube TV. Then I went ahead and started by one week free trial and went to check it all out on my Amazon Fire Stick. One problem, you can’t watch YTC on the Amazon devices. At that point, I only owned Amazon devices. Ugh.

Fortunately, DTV Now was offering a free Apple TV 4K if you pre-paid for 4 months. It was April and I figured August was the perfect time to switch so I jumped on it. Here we are in April and I’m sticking with ATT Now (due to the aforementioned addiction to Nick by the kiddos and the $20 off a month I get for the next 3 months thanks to another promo - that discount keeps me at $50 a month with every channel I want, including all the sports and HBO other than NFL Network and RedZone).

Most providers (YTV is an exception) offer some sort of deal that’s similar. Pre-pay for 3-4 months and get a free streaming device that’s compatible. If you’re used to being locked into a 2 year contract, 4 months is a breeze, though it’s often one of the things people are trying to avoid when they cut the cord.

From what I’ve seen, Roku and Apple devices will work with essentially every provider. The Amazon devices previously had issues with YTV, but those are apparently being resolved and you can expect to be able to watch on Amazon sometime later this year (at least I am when my discount ends in November). And again, you DON’T need a PlayStation to watch PlayStation Vue.

Summary

In summary, there’s a ton of options out there if you’re looking ditch cable or satellite for football season. YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu With Live TV, AT&T Now and Fubo TV should all offer you the opportunity to catch EVERY Iowa game live this year. YouTube TV seems like the most bang for your buck and their DVR is the most robust of any provider. PlayStation Vue actually offers more if you’re looking to get NFL Network and RedZone for the NFL season, but it will cost you a bit more.

Be sure to discuss with your family or roommates or whoever is planning to watch on the same service. Each provider offers something a little different and if there’s a channel someone can’t do without, you may need to do some compromising (just don’t cut those channels we noted above).

Don’t forget to ensure the device you have at home works with the service you’re choosing. And it’s certainly worth checking to see if there are any promotions or discounts going on that would change your mind.

Finally, be sure to check out a couple of these resources as you make up your mind. Our friends down at And The Valley Shook put together an annual guide on this topic. It’s from the standpoint of needing the SEC Network, but it’s got a LOT of good info. Also, the unaffiliated LSUFootball.net has a schedule for every game this season for every school across college football, including start times and TV network. Very handy.

And of course, we’ll be updating you each and every Thursday as always with the weekly TV listings, including links for those of you looking to stream online.

Alright, happy viewing and go Hawks!