As the demand for alternative TV gains ground among viewers, networks are steadily increasing access. Even the options to watch live sports, a stubborn holdout, have improved of late. Now Roku and Apple TV users can stream sports live from NBC sports—but the offering has a major flaw and will fall flat with cord cutters.
Until now. Recently there’s been a surge of new sports coverage available for fans without requiring a cable or satellite subscription.
HBO started offering viewers standalone subscriptions earlier this year. The premium network features several original sports programs, including boxing specials like their showcases of the upcoming Floyd Mayweather, Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao “fight of the century.”
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CBS, home of CBS Sports, also now offers a standalone subscription. Internet TV newbie Sling TV got ESPN—including a bunch of its sub-channels like ESPN 2, 3, March Madness and more—into its basic and sports extras lineups. Other Internet TV providers and sports networks have also been upping their coverage for customers.
The latest network to get behind the rising demand for alternative sports viewing options is NBC Sports. They announced that the NBC Sports Live Extra app will now be available on Apple TV and Roku players and Roku TV models.
Viewers will be able to live stream the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, the Triple Crown races, the upcoming Olympic games, Sunday Night Football, PGA golf and more. In all, over 3,000 live streams from a wide range of sports events will be available each year, NBC says.
But there is a catch, and a big one. A cable or satellite subscription will still be required to watch.
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Said a press release from NBC Sports Group, “The vast majority of live streaming will only be available to authenticated cable, satellite or telco customers…” While the network does recognize the importance of giving fans more flexible options to watch live sports coverage, the effort misses the mark if it’s cord cutters and Millennials the network is looking to woo.
Given that NBC Sports Live Extra is already available online on the NBC Sports website and mobile devices via the Android and iOS apps, the move is pretty marginal. It is unlikely to attract many new customers for Roku or Apple TV, though existing users may appreciate a slight uptick in viewing convenience.
Perhaps this is just the first step and fans will soon be able to stream live sports from NBC without cable. At least, that’s if the network truly cares about pleasing its customers. On the other hand, with Comcast as the owner of NBCUniversal, it’s probably too much to hope for.