Ultimate Guide To Stream Live SportsBy Jonathan Sternberg / September 20, 2016 / Tags: Cut Cable, How-To, Stream Sports
Here are today’s best options to watch live sports without cable or satellite.
Watching live sports no longer requires a cable subscription. You can stream sports from a number of sources to get full access to all major US professional and college sports. Note, however, that most of the websites out there promising “live streaming sports” are sleazy. They’re also unreliable. So whether you canceled your cable, or are just looking for some other sources, you’ll want better options. We’ve rounded up the best ways to stream live sports without cable. Here they are.
*Note: This is written for US viewers, but much of it will also work for sports fans outside the US. If you need to digitally appear to be inside the US in order to access a stream or service, you can use a VPN to reroute your internet connection through a US server and bypass any geo-blocks. Similarly, if you want to appear to be outside the US for some reason, you can use a VPN to digitally relocate to the UK, for instance. In general, consumer advocates widely recommend using a VPN for online privacy and security, especially if you use public WiFi or stream from insecure sources. Pretty much any VPN will work, but for the best speeds and reliability you may want to stick with one of these.
Best Sources To Stream Live Sports
+ League Streaming Services
NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS all offer subscription services to live stream games on a variety of devices: NFL Game Pass, NBA League Pass, MLB.tv, NHL.TV, and MLS LIVE.
For the most part, these services are a great way to get access to your favorite sports and teams. The downside is that many hit subscribers with game blackouts. So see below for how to avoid regional blackouts on these services, or how to get access if you live somewhere the service you want isn’t available.
+ Kodi (Free Live Sports — But Read This First)
Kodi is a media player you can use to stream TV, including live sports. Kodi is free to download and use, and works on almost every device (computer, smartphone, gaming system, Amazon Fire TV, etc.). (What is Kodi?)
By installing add-ons on Kodi, you can stream a lot of live sports. You can use Kodi to watch sports apps that you pay for, like WatchESPN. But Kodi is popular because you can also use it to watch tons of live sports for free — NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, soccer, & more.
⊕ SEE ALSO: How To Use Kodi: A Simple Quick-Start Guide
In fact, you can stream just about every sports channel and event on Kodi — live and for free. But there are a couple catches. One, the live sports streams aren’t always the best quality. Plus, some of the most popular Kodi add-ons for sports streaming may not exactly be legal. Kodi isn’t illegal, per say, but you can get into trouble with it if you don’t use it the right way. See: Why You Should Always Use Kodi With A VPN.
To see what you can watch on Kodi and how to get started, check out beginner’s guide on how to use Kodi. If you already use it and need help finding the best sources to stream live sports on Kodi, see our list of the best Kodi Add-ons.
+ Sling TV & PlayStation Vue
Sling TV is an internet TV service you can use to stream live TV on a variety of devices or your big screen. For the basic, ‘Best of Live TV’ package, $20/month, you get sports coverage from: ESPN, ESPN 2, TNT, and TBS.
Or, for $20, you can get a package with Fox Sports, TNT, TBS, Fox Sports 1, and TruTV. For another $5/month you can get the Sports Add-on with ESPNU, ESPNews, beIN, Bases Loaded, Outside Television, and a couple others. If you travel or live abroad, you can get Sling TV outside the US.
PlayStation Vue is another internet TV service, and very similar to Sling TV. It starts at $35/month, but you get access to more channels and more sports on-demand.
+ World Sports Channels
There are some cool sports channels from other countries that stream tons of live sports, such as beIN and SportsNet, among others. See our picks of some of the world’s best sports channels that live stream online.
The downside — viewers outside the channel’s home country are usually blocked from live sports streams. But, you guessed it, there’s an easy workaround. You just need to use to use a VPN service to bypass the location restrictions so you can stream live sports on any site, from anywhere.
⊕ SEE ALSO: How To Unblock Live Sports Everywhere
With a VPN, you can instantly unblock sports streams around the world. You can use a VPN to stream sports on any device — computer, phone, tablet, SmartTV, gaming console, router (to stream on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV), and etc.
See our list of the top 5 VPNs for streaming. Any of these will let you unblock sports streams across the globe — but our top pick for sports streaming is ExpressVPN. It’s the fastest, most reliable, has super-easy apps for every device, and has a 30-day money-back guarantee — plus lots of other cool features so you can stream anywhere, anytime. ExpressVPN is also an easy one to set up on your router to use with a streaming device.
The world’s leading source for sports journalism is a must-have. You have a few options to stream ESPN without cable. One is Sling TV, for $20/month. Another is the paid USTV Now service, also $20/month — but the same terms as mentioned above apply.
Still developing is the new live TV service from Hulu. Hulu is owned by Disney, and Disney also owns ESPN. Hulu has been hinting their live TV subscription will include sports. Thus, we strongly suspect ESPN will be part of the package when Hulu reveals it. We’ll keep you posted.
+ Network TV
NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX all show free, over-the-air sports coverage of both professional and college events. This is great news, particularly during the NFL season. You can live stream some games online, on the networks’ sports sites — NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports. (ABC owns ESPN and streams most games on WatchESPN instead of on ABC.com. A notable exception is the NBA Finals, which does stream live on ABC’s site.)
Sometimes, network TV streams are even free. For example, CBS Sports aired a free live stream of the Super Bowl last year. However, streaming from the networks themselves is hit or miss. Many of the games aren’t streamed online. Most often, you have to log in with a TV provider to get access.
⊕ SEE ALSO: Best Cable TV Alternatives
There is a way to watch all the US networks online if you’re a US citizen living or traveling outside the country. Then you can use USTVnow to stream NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC for free. USTVnow’s setup is slick, and they have apps for multiple devices. We know that plenty of people use a VPN to appear to be outside the US so they can use the service. But, this is a violation of USTVnow’s terms, which they must have to stay out of trouble with the networks. Similarly, checking the box that you’re a US citizen when you’re not, and thereby getting free access when you shouldn’t, is also a violation of terms. Hey, I’m not here to judge — just pointing it out.
+ USTVNow Paid Service [For US Citizens Living Abroad]
The USTVNow “All Channels” plan, $20/month, includes ESPN, TBS, and TNT. For a bit more per month, you can add unlimited DVR access to record games you can’t watch live. Again, note this service is only meant for Americans living overseas. If you try to use the service from inside the US, you will get blocked.
Again, we’re aware that some sports fans use a VPN to make it appear they’re logging on from outside the US, thus unblocking access to all of USTVNow. But this is definitely breaking the rules. It’s a shame, because this really is a great service, especially during the NBA season.
+ Standalone Subscriptions
CBS, HBO, and Showtime all offer standalone subscriptions [you don’t need to have cable] that will let you live stream their programming. CBS All Access is $6/month, but live TV isn’t available in every area so check their listings before you buy. HBO and Showtime, which periodically air sports specials, are each around $10/month.
+ Niche Sports Streaming Services
This is limited, but not bad for soccer and tennis. FuboTV and KlowdTV are two that offer live soccer streaming for under $10/month. Tennis TV will give you access to ATP World Tour and WTA matches — but no Grand Slams. It’s $120 for a year, $20/month, or $10 for 24 hours.
How To Avoid Blackouts On Sports Streaming Services & Apps
Regional game blackouts suck. MLB.tv, NBA TV / NBA League Pass, NFL Game Pass, NHL TV, MLS TV and others subject subscribers to blackouts. It’s a bad business model to shut paying customers out of certain games, if you ask us. So here’s how to get around it on any streaming service, website, or app. (See specific instructions on how to avoid NBA blackouts, or how to avoid NFL blackouts.)
The best and easiest way is by using a handy tool called a VPN. A VPN will pass your Internet connection through a different location, so that you are not subjected to any game blackouts. (What is a VPN?)
There are lots to choose from, but we like ExpressVPN the best. It has the fastest streaming speeds, is very easy to use, doesn’t throttle or disrupt connections, and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. I’ll show you exactly what to do to avoid all game blackouts with ExpressVPN — so you won’t miss a single NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS game.
1. Get a 30-day money-back trial of ExpressVPN, the best VPN for sports streaming. ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN out there — unlike others that will slow your connection — so you can stream live games at super-high speeds and in HD and Ultra-HD with no ISP throttling. Pick the 12-month plan for the best deal ($8.32/mo).
2. Use the ExpressVPN app to connect to a server in a different country or US city, so you can bypass all game blackouts.
3. Start live streaming every on your favorite streaming services, on any device! As long as you’re connected to an ExpressVPN server, you’ll have access to every game.
It really is that easy, so take advantage of the 30-day money-back offer from ExpressVPN to try it out risk-free. Your friends will be very jealous.
Plus, you can do more than just avoid blackouts. You can unblock live sports of all kinds with ExpressVPN — in fact, you’ll get access to about every geo-blocked website out there.
If you’re a light streamer, a good option for free access is TunnelBear. It’s not as fast, but you can stream up to 500MBs of data a month for free. It works on computers and mobile devices. They also have nice browser extensions for Chrome and Opera. To unblock sports streams with TunnelBear, just set your location to the UK and start watching.
How To Watch Sports Streams On Your TV
Watching a game on a tiny phone screen just doesn’t cut it. There are a few ways to get online content onto your big screen.
First, for whatever service or site you’re using, check if they offer apps that work with media streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Sling TV, MLB.tv, NBA TV, CBS All Access, and many others all have several different apps for different streaming devices.
If you’re using a service that doesn’t have an app, the next easiest way is to use Chromecast to send whatever is streaming on your computer/device to your TV. There are other gadgets like Chromecast, but we find it to be the most powerful and reliable, and a bargain at only $35.
Thanks for reading, and welcome to the wonderful world of watching live sports without cable. We think you’re gonna like it here. Return to this article now and then, because we update it as new info is available. To see how to stream TV shows without cable, check out the best cable TV alternatives.
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