Have you cut the cord on cable TV, but still want to watch pro sports live? Rest assured, you have plenty of options for streaming your favorite sports online. Games are available to watch on nearly any device you own. The trick figuring out how to watch live sports for free is subscribing to the best combination of streaming services and free viewing options for your favorite teams.
No matter which sport is your favorite, you don’t need cable to root, root, root for the home team from your home. Here’s our guide showing you how to watch sports without cable and the best sports streaming services, with options for each major U.S. sports league.
college football on field – how to watch sports without cable
Here’s how you can stream sports without a cable subscription.
The fine print: Blackout rules and regional networks
Before diving into the options and pricing, be aware of each league’s blackout rules, in addition to rules about games airing on national networks.
For those who don’t speak sports, a blackout happens when a local game does not sell out. In those cases, the game does not air live on local TV and is blocked from streaming in the local market. Even when a local game does sell out, locals may not be able to watch it on a streaming service. For example, NBA League Pass won’t allow you access to your local team’s game or any nationally televised games.
Regional sports networks pose another challenge. Make sure your team’s games will be available on whatever streaming service you choose. The former Fox Sports regional networks (now known as Bally Sports) have been dropped by many of the streaming services listed below.
If you’re a well-rounded sports fan and want to watch live sports from all the major leagues, you’ll need an option that offers the broadest coverage. Subscribing to multiple individual-sport streaming services adds up quickly, and you could wind up spending more than cable would have cost in the first place. Even so, many of the options that pair sports networks with other TV channels can get expensive fast.
You might hope you can get live sports streaming for free, and you can. However, many of the “free” sports streaming sites require you to have cable or a subscription to a partner sports streaming service, so they really are not as free as they sound. The truly free options are often sketchy; you may need to use a VPN and take some not-quite-legal steps to get access. We do not recommend this approach.
Here are better options if you want to watch games from multiple major sports leagues without cable:
Over-the-air antenna. Rabbit ears may have given way to a digital cable TV box, but the concept is still the same. Plug your digital TV antenna into the coaxial cable jack on the back of your TV. Hang the antenna as high as possible and, if possible, near a window on the side of your house that faces the big broadcast antenna. Tune in to your local TV station. Watch the game. Antennas are available at Amazon, Walmart, and other discount retailers and it’s just a one-time cost.
Sling TV. One of the best streaming services for live sports, Sling TV has partnered with the NFL Network to bring you live games, news and analysis streamed to any of your internet-connected devices.
SlingTV isn’t just for football – the Orange + Blue plan includes ESPN and NFL Network, along with many other channels showing sports, such as Fox, Fox Sports, NBC, NBC SN, and ESPN2 and 3. It also includes a DVR service.
The two main packages are $35 per month, though you can give it a try for one month for just $10. Signing up for the full package costs $50 per month. For an extra $15/month, you can get their Sports Extra add-on, which gives you access to the Big Ten Network, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network Plus, NHL Network, NBA TV, and more. Other add-on packages cost $6 per month.
$10 for your first month of Sling TV
YouTube TV. YouTube TV is essentially an online cable subscription from Google. It includes 85+ channels including several major sports channels for streaming live sports and most anything else you could watch on live TV. YouTube TV includes an online DVR and doesn’t require a cable box. It works on your computer, smartphone, or many smart TV apps and devices.
For sports, you’ll want to click on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, NFL Network, NBC Sports, MLB Network, Golf Channel, NBA TV, NBCSN, SEC ESPN Network, and other channel options. You can pay to add on MLB.TV, the NBA League Pass, and YouTube TV Sports Plus (includes seven more sports channels).
All you need is a Google account to sign up, which you already have if you use Gmail. It’s $64.99 per month after a three-month introductory rate of $54.99 per month. You can start with a two-week trial for free as of this writing.
fuboTV. Use any connected device to stream fuboTV, which offers a collection of sports and entertainment channels with add-on options. You can watch leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and more. There are 50 channels in its list of sports channels in my area in Southern California (out of 224 channels total). However, some regional restrictions may apply. For example, you may not be able to get regional Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports Network).
After a free trial, you’ll pay $64.99 per month for the Start plan (includes most sports channels) or $79.99 per month for Elite (includes more channels). There’s a Spanish-language subscription available as well for $33 per month, including muchos deportes.
FuboTV also features add-on options. The Sport Plus with NFL Redzone add-on for $10.99 per month includes top NCAA games, NFL Redzone from NFL Network, ESPN U, NHL Network, MLB Network, ESPNEWS, and SEC ESPN Network. Other add-ons for more sports channels include fubo Extra ($7.99 per month), International Sports Plus ($6.99 per month), and Latino Plus ($19.99 per month).