How to watch live sports without cable in 2020

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A lot of people cling to their cable package for fear of missing out on sports broadcasts. But there are plenty of ways to watch live sports without cable TV. Cut the cord, and you’ll have access to several affordable live TV streaming services and some free options too. 

Access everything from major cable networks and local channels to specialist sports names and college games via one of the following online methods. Unlike cable, you won’t have to sign up for a lengthy contract or find room for a clunky set-top box. Instead, you’ll need nothing more than a decent Wi-Fi connection and can cancel whenever you like. 

If you don’t have time to catch a game or event live, you can record it via some live streaming platforms. Just pick a service with cloud DVR storage. And, thanks to simultaneous streams, people in your household who aren’t mega sports fans can watch their favorite TV at the same time as you. 

Keep reading for the best ways to watch live sports TV without a cable subscription.

Which live sports streaming service is right for you?

Streaming sports channels is simple with the right streaming service. The list includes both national and regional networks along with local channels and professional league titles. But some channels are only available on certain streaming platforms, and others only appear in certain regions. To find out your area’s channel list, head to your chosen streaming services’ site and enter your ZIP code. 

Below, you’ll find more about each type of sports channel that’s available to watch through the internet.

Local networks

Local networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC tend to be high on any sports fan’s list. On these channels, you’ll find playoff rounds and other games from the NFL, NBA, and more. Some college games also air on local networks. Luckily, you can find these channels on the majority of live sport streaming services.

Regional sports networks

Most regional sports networks, also known as RSNs, are available on major live TV streaming services. On the likes of FOX Sports, NBC Sports, and YES Network, you’ll find regular season broadcasts from your local MLB, NBA, and NHL teams. Some RSNs, however, are only available via certain streaming services.

Major cable networks

As well as national networks, you’ll probably want to ensure you have access to major cable channels. Think the likes of ESPN, FS1, TBS, and TNT. Again, expect national games and events from the NBA, NFL, and PGA Tour. Most of these names are available via a range of streaming services.

Pro sports channels

Got a favorite league that you don’t want to miss out on? You’ll want to watch the relevant professional sports channel. Whether it’s NBA TV or NFL Network, these channels broadcast out-of-market games along with highlights and analyses. Some streaming services include these networks in their packages, and some will make you pay extra.

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Compare sports streaming services

To stream sports online, you’ll need the help of a trusty streaming service. Each platform offers varying sports channels. Some have a wide range of networks in the entry-level package; others require you to pay more for certain live sports. Here’s what to expect from some of the biggest sports streaming names.

CBS All Access

CBS All Access is a competitively priced way to stream content from your local CBS station and CBS Sports HQ. Watch live NFL and SEC games, including pre-game and halftime coverage, along with events from the worlds of basketball, golf, and hockey. It costs $5.99/mo. or $59.99/yr. and comes with a week-long free trial. If you want to remove commercials from on-demand content, you can, by paying $9.99/mo. or $99.99/yr. Unfortunately, there’s no option to record content, making CBS All Access only ideal for people who are always ready to watch a game at the start time.

Check out the full CBS All Access Review.

fuboTV

A sports-focused service, fuboTV broadcasts more than 30,000 live sporting events annually — some are even shown in 4K. From $54.99/mo., you’ll have access to local networks like CBS and FOX and regional sports networks from NBC. (fuboTV is also introducing ABC and ESPN in the summer of 2020.) Major names like FS1 and pro channels like NFL Network are also included in the standard package.

If you want the broadest range of sports channels, you’ll have to upgrade to fuboTV’s $84.99/mo. Ultra plan. This includes premium extras like NBA TV and NHL Network. There’s a range of channel add-ons to invest in, too, from the $10.99/mo. Sports Plus with NFL Redzone to the $5.99/mo. International Sports Plus. Subscribers can record up to 30 hours of content for free and restart select live events, so you never have to miss the beginning of a game again. All plans come with a seven-day free trial, except for the Ultra package.

Check out the full fuboTV Review.

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV carries more than 15 sports networks. Big names like ESPN and FS1 are on the list along with national channels such as CBS. That means you can watch live games from the NBA, NHL, MLB, and more. Regional sports networks like YES Network are available in certain areas, but Hulu + Live TV does offer widespread local coverage from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.

The one big thing the service is missing is pro networks. Right now, there’s no way to watch the likes of NBA TV or NFL Network. A lack of sports add-ons also means you may struggle to stay in the loop with out-of-market teams. A Hulu + Live TV subscription costs $54.99/mo. and comes with a week-long free trial. You’ll also get access to Hulu’s impressive on-demand catalog and 50 hours of cloud DVR storage.

Check out the full Hulu + Live TV Review.

Philo

Philo costs just $20/mo., making it one of the cheapest streaming services around. And there’s a reason for its low price: it doesn’t house any sports channels whatsoever. So if you’re looking to watch regional, pro, or national networks, you’re out of luck. Instead, the service focuses on entertainment from the likes of AMC and BET. It goes without saying that Philo isn’t a great service for the sports-obsessed.

Check out the full Philo Review.

Sling TV

When it comes to local and regional sports networks, Sling TV is lacking. Only three regional channels are available — NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, and NBC Sports Washington — and the local list only features channels from FOX and NBC. But that doesn’t mean Sling TV has no sports at all. The service has a range of major networks, but you’ll have to pay for the more expensive plan to access them all.

Sling’s $30/mo. Orange plan comes with ESPN and TNT, and the $30/mo. Blue plan has FOX, FS1, and NBC Sports Network. Combine the two for $45/mo. For a long list of pro networks, including MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network, invest in the Sports Extra add-on for a further $10/.mo. Sling TV doesn’t usually offer free trials, but you can currently enjoy 14 days for free. Only 10 hours of DVR storage are included for free. 

Check out the full Sling TV Review.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is one of the best all-around streaming services for sports fans. Get access to the four biggest local networks — ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC — along with national coverage from the likes of ESPN, TBS, and TNT. Popular networks like CBS Sports Network and FS1 are part of the package too. So are league-specific channels like MLB Network and NBA TV. (NFL Network and NHL Network are missing from the line-up, but you can add FOX Soccer Plus and NBA League Pass for additional monthly fees.) If you’re a regional sports-lover, you can watch broadcasts from FOX and NBC channels. But you won’t be able to catch college games from Pac-12 or FOX College Sports.

Costing $64.99/mo., YouTube TV is one of the few services to include unlimited DVR storage. Plus, you can try all of its sporting goodness for 14 days without paying a single dollar.

Check out the full YouTube TV Review.

The final cut

When it comes to watching live sports without cable, there are plenty of options to watch the teams you love. Live TV streaming services can allow you to watch different games without having to sign up for a contract like most cable companies require. And don’t forget, you’ll likely save yourself money each month when switching to a streaming service.