Thursday, March 19, 2020

A cord cutter guide for watching sports without cable TV

For many people, live sports are the main reason to hang on to an expensive pay television package. If you want to watch your favorite team play in real time, you probably can't do it without having access to broadcast regional and national radio channels, all of which remain linked to large TV packages.

The good news is that you no longer need cable or satellite TV service to access these channels. With live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and FuboTV, you may be able to get the same coverage online at a fraction of the cost. And with new streaming services like ESPN + and DAZN, sports superfans can get more coverage than cable already had.
However, not all live TV streaming services have exactly the same channels or offer the same experience. Below, I break down your best streaming options, sport by sport.

First, a warning

Your ability to watch live sports without cable will largely depend on where you are. Some markets may not offer a full range of local broadcast channels on each streaming service, and some regional sports channels have not yet made the leap to streaming. (As you look Spectrum SportsNet.) For live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV , Hulu with live TV , Fubo TV , AT & T TV Now and Sling TV , I highly suggest entering your zip code in their respective websites for a list of local and regional channel coverage.

Best Sports Streaming Service: YouTube TV

Earlier this year, we would have given this honor to PlayStation Vue. But with Sony's live TV streaming service slated to close in January, YouTube TV is the second best option.

For $ 50 a month, YouTube TV provides the four main broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) in almost all markets; regional sports coverage from Fox Sports and NBCSN (plus NESN in Boston and SNY in New York); national coverage of ESPN, TBS, TNT, NBC Sports and CBS Sports Network; and several league-specific networks, including NBA TV and MLB Network. You can even add Fox Soccer Plus for $ 15 a month.

YouTube TV doesn't have all the sports channels you could get via cable (NFL Network and NFL Redzone are major omissions). However, it is the cheapest option for the most popular sports coverage on TV, its video quality is excellent and it works on all major streaming devices with the recent arrival of Fire TV support.

Best football streaming services

For football coverage in general, we always give YouTube TV a wink for the same reasons as above: Great video quality, wide coverage of local and national sports channels, and a lower price than its nearest competitors . It doesn't offer NFL Redzone, but you can subscribe to Redzone as a stand-alone service if you don't mind watching it only on your phone.
You have a few options if you need to have Redzone on your TV:
  • Sling TV Blue offers Redzone in its Sports Extra package for a total of $ 30 per month, but if you want ESPN and SEC Network, you'll have to switch to Sling TV Orange, which brings the total to $ 50 per month. Either way, you will probably need an antenna for local channel coverage, as Sling is sorely lacking.

Best services for baseball streaming

MLB network
For baseball coverage, you will most likely need a package that includes your nearest regional sports channel, plus TBS, ESPN, FS1, Fox and possibly the MLB network for playoffs and televised games nationwide. . At the risk of sounding like a broken record, YouTube TV is the only service that meets all of these criteria, although Hulu with Live TV will also suffice if you can live without the random playoff game ending on the MLB network.
If you are lucky enough to live in a different area from that of your favorite team, you can completely avoid the TV package and subscribe to MLB.TV for live and off-market game streams. For the 2019 season, the MLB billed $ 92 for single team coverage and $ 119 for all off-market games, but don't be surprised if these prices increase slightly in 2020. Also keep in mind that you will suffer breakdowns if a game is televised nationally or if your favorite team plays against your local team, and you will still need to take a TV package to watch the playoffs.

Best Basketball Streaming Services

Watching cable basketball will likely require a combination of your regional sports network, TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV. In most cases, the only service that checks all of these boxes is YouTube TV .
For non-market games, NBA League Pass costs $ 120 per season for one team or $ 200 per season for all teams.

Best service for UFC streaming

For full coverage of UFC Fight Night, you will need a combination of the ESPN cable channel (which will carry 10 main cards per year) and ESPN + (which will broadcast the remaining 20 cards). ESPN is available through most live TV streaming services, with Sling TV Orange being the cheapest at $ 25 a month.
ESPN +, meanwhile, costs $ 5 a month, but major UFC fights such as the next UFC 245 are a la carte options that will cost more.

The best streaming service for boxing

The fractured nature of boxing means that there is no single way to access all the best games. Instead, you'll have to bounce between Show Time ($ 11 a month), ESPN + ($ 5 a month) and DAZN ($ 20 a month or $ 100 a year). Some events will also appear on ESPN itself, so you'll need a live TV streaming service such as Sling TV Orange or YouTube TV to watch them, and some events will be pay-per-view via Showtime or Fox Sports.

More options for niche sports

You don't care about big sporting events, but still enjoy the thrill of competition? Here are some other sports streaming options to consider:
  • ESPN + ($ 5 per month) has a handbag from less popular sporting events in the United States, including Major League Rugby, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and SANZAAR in the Southern Hemisphere; New Zealand Cricket Cricket and Cricket Ireland in Test, ODI and T20 formats; and about 60 Canadian Football League games. You can also watch some college sports like lacrosse, athletics, squash and field hockey.


  • B / R Live ($ 10 per month, $ 80 per year) includes the National Lacrosse League, International Field Hockey, the World Armwrestling League, International Table Tennis and the Extreme Polo League
  • NBC Sports Gold offers individual passes for figure skating, winter sports, several rugby leagues, speed skating, the Premiere Lacrosse League, Supercross, Indycar and NASCAR.

Remember, you don't need it all at the same time

While the number of sports streaming services on offer may seem overwhelming, keep in mind that you don't have to subscribe to all of them at the same time. With streaming, you can easily add and remove services as needed, and you can even cancel a service immediately after registering to avoid being billed automatically after your first month. This tip is especially useful if you just want to get into a sport for playoff coverage or watch a big fight.
Watching live sports is still an expensive hobby, even in the streaming age, but with proper planning, you can maximize what you watch while minimizing what you spend.
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