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Few things are more thrilling than watching live sports. That game-winning touchdown or buzzer-beater shot can create memories to last for years.
Until streaming services became mainstream, you needed a pricey subscription to catch most games. That’s no longer the case. You can watch live sports without cable and save money. You can also stream your favorite shows and movies for less.
What Channels Do You Need To Watch Live Sports Without Cable?
When searching for the right sports streaming service for you, it’s essential to determine what channels you need. Selecting the right platform may prevent you from losing out on a can’t-miss game.
Here are the most important channels to have when selecting a service to watch live sports.
Local networks are essential for many sports fans. An over-the-air antenna will often help you pick up ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, but you may live in an area that doesn’t offer reliable reception.
Thankfully, some live TV streaming services carry all of your local channels. Be careful, though, as choosing them increases the service’s cost.
Major Sports Channels
You don’t need cable or satellite to get ESPN. It’s possible to watch ESPN without cable with most cable TV alternatives.
You may also want networks like Fox Sports (FS1) or NFL Network. Most streaming services carry those channels as well. Just be careful, as some TV streaming services may not offer all channels in the same package.
You may not think it, but Turner Networks like TBS, TNT, and TruTV are major sports networks. They stream March Madness games. If the service you choose doesn’t have those channels, you won’t be singing “One Shining Moment” come the end of the tournament.
Regional Sports Networks
Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are a terrific option for streaming live sports. These channels are sports-oriented networks dedicated to a local market or region and let you watch every game from your in-market team.
For example, Bally Sports Midwest airs live games from the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Indiana Pacers, and more.
Unfortunately, RSNs are expensive, and only two major services offer them – DIRECTV STREAM and Fubo, which start at $75 a month. However, it is often cheaper than a cable subscription.
College and Pro Sports Networks
If having ESPN or FS1 isn’t enough, you need a service that offers popular pro networks like the MLB Network or NHL Network.
Or, you may want a college network like the Longhorn Network or PAC-12 Network. Thankfully, most premium live TV streaming services offer a variety of college and pro offerings.
The Best Streaming Services for Live Sports
Live sports are the most watched TV events. Research shows 61 of the most watched 100 events were sports in 2022.
Furthermore, 46 of the top 50 Nielsen-measured sports audiences were NFL games in 2022. Thankfully, there are many options for people determining how to watch live sports without cable.
Here are the best choices if streaming sports live is important to you.
YouTube TV is one of the most well-known options for live TV streaming. The app has over 100 popular networks, including your local channels.
It also has sought-after networks like the ESPN channels, FS1, and the Turner networks. They also include the NFL Network, NBA TV, ACC Network, and SEC Network.
Subscriptions start at $72.99 a month, and you get a seven-day free trial to test the service.
If the base subscription doesn’t have enough sports, you can purchase the Sports Plus Add-on for an additional $9.99 a month.
All subscriptions have three simultaneous streams and various compatible devices, from Fire TV to Apple TV and Roku. An unlimited cloud DVR comes standard.
Hulu Live is a fantastic alternative to YouTube TV and is slightly more affordable at $69.99 a month for over 80 channels.
Like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV includes all of your locals, as well as all of the major sports networks. Additionally, it includes the Big Ten Network, which isn’t available on YouTube TV.
You can purchase the Sports Plus Add-on for an extra $9.99 monthly for roughly ten additional networks, most notably NFL RedZone.
All subscriptions include two simultaneous streams and support various streaming devices. Unlimited cloud DVR storage comes standard.
A feature unique to Hulu Live is the inclusion of the Disney Bundle on all subscriptions. This gives you both Disney+ and ESPN+. The latter is a terrific option for college sports and pay-per-view events for UFC fans.
Unfortunately, there’s no free trial to test the service.
Fubo, formerly known as FuboTV, promotes itself as the go-to service if streaming live sports is essential to you. Unfortunately, that comes at a cost.
Fubo has three base plans, Pro, Elite, and Premier. They start at $74.99, $84.99, and $94.99 monthly, respectively, plus RSN fees for at least 140 channels.
All plans include your major sports networks but not the Turner networks. This poses a problem for people who want to watch NBA games or catch March Madness.
However, along with DIRECTV STREAM, Fubo is the only live TV streaming service to include Bally Sports RSNs. And it includes the PAC-12 Network, which is more difficult to find.
The beauty of Fubo is its array of add-ons. The app has 14 add-ons ranging from $2.99 to $24.99 a month; many are sports-centric and offer everything from Major League Soccer to international sports.
All subscriptions include ten simultaneous streams and support various streaming devices. Cloud DVR storage is limited to 1,000 hours.
You can use a seven-day free trial to test the service.
DIRECTV STREAM needs to be clarified for sports fans. It has four base plans: Entertainment, Choice, Ultimate, and Premier. They cost $74.99, $99.99, $109.99, and $154.99 a month, respectively. Channel offerings range from 75 channels to over 140.
DIRECTV STREAM differs from other live TV streaming apps because it doesn’t include add-ons. They force you to upgrade to a more expensive package to get your desired channels.
Most sports fans will be fine with the Entertainment plan as it includes all major sports channels and local networks. However, you will need the Choice plan if you want college channels, RSNs, or major sports leagues like NFL Network.
All subscriptions include 20 simultaneous streams and support various streaming devices. Unlimited cloud DVR storage is standard.
You can use a five-day free trial to test the service.
Sling TV is more of a discount live TV service. It has two base plans, Orange and Blue, each costing $40 monthly. You can combine the two for $55 a month.
Orange has over 30 live networks, and Blue has over 40. The combined package has over 50 channels. Orange includes ESPN and ESPN2, whereas Blue includes FS1. Unfortunately, Sling doesn’t offer local networks in most locations. You will need an antenna to get those.
Sling has 11 add-ons ranging from $6 to $11 a month. The Sports Extra Add-on is $11 monthly and includes over ten popular networks.
This gets you access to channels such as:
- ACC Network
- MLB Network
- NBA TV
- NFL RedZone
- PAC-12 Network
- SEC Network
The Orange plan offers one simultaneous stream; the Blue provides three. All plans include a 50-hour cloud DVR. You can upgrade to 200 hours for an additional $5 a month.
Sling doesn’t offer a free trial, but they often have money-saving promotions, including free devices for new subscribers.
Best On-Demand Streaming Services for Sports
Thankfully, you don’t always need an expensive service to watch live sports. You can often catch your favorite on more affordable platforms that don’t include live cable.
ESPN+ is a standalone streaming service; it’s not a live stream of ESPN. However, the platform streams live sporting events from a wide range of professional and college leagues.
It costs $9.99 a month, or you can get an annual plan at a discount for $99.99.
The app is best for Major League Baseball and NHL games. Additionally, the app streams games from dozens of college sports conferences, including the Big 12.
This makes it a top choice to stream college football, especially from smaller conferences.
NBA and NFL fans will be disappointed as the app streams only a few live games. It makes up for that by including ESPN originals on the app.
ESPN+ includes three simultaneous screens and works on a wide variety of devices.
There is no free trial to test the service.
Peacock may not seem like the best streaming service to watch sports live, but it has a lot of sports content.
With a Premium subscription at $4.99 a month, you can access everything from Premier League matches to Sunday Night Football. And it’s the exclusive home of WWE content.
You can also find live events in the following sports on Peacock:
- Horse Racing
- MLB Sunday Leadoff
Peacock is also the exclusive streaming home of the Olympics.
You can upgrade to Premium Plus for $9.99 a month. This gives you access to your local NBC live stream and ad-free content on on-demand content.
Peacock supports three simultaneous streams and works on a variety of streaming devices. There’s no free trial to test the service.
Like Peacock, Paramount+ may seem like an odd choice for live sporting events, but it’s a worthy choice for sports fans.
Paramount+ has two plans, Essential and Paramount+ with Showtime. They cost $5.99 and $11.99 a month, respectively.
Most notably, you can watch your local NFL Sunday afternoon games on CBS. Additionally, you can find other live sports, including;
- NWSL Soccer
- PGA Tournament matches
- Select March Madness games
- UEFA Champions League
- Serie A
Paramount+ with Showtime gives you your local CBS live stream and Showtime content.
Paramount+ supports three simultaneous streams and works on a variety of streaming devices. You can try the service with a seven-day free trial.
Amazon Prime doesn’t have a lot of live sports, but it does have NFL Thursday Night games. Prime Video is included in Prime subscriptions, or you can get it as a standalone option for $8.99 a month.
Thursday night games are exclusive to Prime Video. If you want other sports, looking at other streaming services is best.
However, if you love the NFL, Prime Video is the choice to get Thursday games. You can even record games to watch later.
Prime Video supports three simultaneous streams and works on most streaming devices. You can test the platform with a 30-day free trial.
You can cut the cord on cable and watch live sports. Spending lots of money for a subscription to catch your favorite team is no longer necessary.
Best of all, streaming services don’t have contracts. You can have a service during the season you want to watch, then cancel to cut costs. You only need a smart TV or a compatible streaming device, and you can stream live sports as much as you want.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, an online community he started in 2012 that is dedicated to helping people kill debt, earn more money, learn to invest, save money in all areas of life, and achieve financial freedom. He’s a former stockbroker, MBA-grad and freelance finance writer. He has been featured on Forbes, CNBC, Personal Capital, U.S. News & World Report, Prudential, Discover, MSN, Nasdaq, the Wall Street Journal, and more.