The #1 Reason people hesitate to cut the cord is because they think they won’t be able to watch sports without a cable subscription.
IN THIS ARTICLE I WILL PROVE TO YOU THAT THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! YOU CAN WATCH SPORTS WITHOUT CABLE.
ONLINE | OVER-THE-AIR | HD | 100% LEGAL
Note: There are regional blackout restrictions with some of these services. So I am not promising all these options are going to work perfectly for you. But I do strongly suggest that you at least fully understand your options before deciding that Cable TV is the end all.
Seasonal Sports Calendar
The first step to learning how to watch sports without cable is knowing when your favorite sports will be on. Using the season sports schedule below, you can cost-effectively plan out your yearly streaming strategy. Why pay for a streaming service all year, if you only need it for 3 months (?)
Sports News ⇑
As far as sports news goes, you’re in luck. Getting your daily dose of stats, scores, and updates are relatively easy to do without cable. If you already have a subscription to Sling TV (which I highly suggest) you’ll already have a way to watch ESPN without cable bundled into your subscription. With ESPN, you’ll be able to see scrolling scores and news update at the bottom of the screen as well as routine SportsCenter updates.
Now if you don’t have Sling TV, or you just want something a little different, you’ll want to check out 120 Sports. 120 Sports is a digital broadcast network that breaks up sporting news up into digestible 2-minute chunks. You can search for stories through tags and the search feature or you can just let the news roll in on autoplay. And the best part? It’s free and available for both Android and iOS.
Another option is the PlayStation Vue. Their base package called “Access Slim” comes with 55 Channels and costs $29 a month. Like with Sling you do get ESPN, but it also costs $10 more a month.
NFL Football ⇑
Luckily for NFL fans, watching professional football has changed very little in the last 50 years. The vast majority of games are still televised over-the-air on the major broadcast networks. CBS usually covers AFC games and several Thursday night football games, Fox handles the NFC, and NBC broadcasts the Sunday night game. All of those channels can be accessed with a simple OTA antenna and most antennas range between $30-$60.
As far as Monday Night Football games, those are broadcasted on ESPN so in this case, an antenna won’t cut it. What you’ll need is a subscription to Sling TV. For $20 a month you get streaming access to over 20 live channels, ESPN included. It may seem like a lot for one game a week, but trust me when I say Sling will come in handy for a lot more than NFL football; which we’ll get to a little later.
Also worth noting here, starting in the 2016 Season, Sling TV will be offering RedZone Channel via their Blue Package. If you are not familiar with RedZone, you get every scoring play on one channel, with no commercial interruptions. So if you love the game like I do, or play in a Fantasy Football League, RedZone is a must!
If you happen to be outside of the market of your game of choice, which happens more often than you think (especially if you play fantasy football), then what you’ll need is a subscription to NFL Game Pass. For $99 (free trial) a year, you get access to every NFL game this season after they air and a whole lot of extras; like streamable NFL games from 2009 to present.
So now you know how to watch football without a cable bill. Between Sling TV, NFL Game Pass, and an OTA antenna; there won’t be a single NFL game outside of your grasp.
To learn more, read “5 Ways to Watch NFL Football without Cable TV“
College Football ⇑
While you could probably do without Sling TV when it comes to the NFL, Sling is completely indispensable for the cord cutting college football fan. Nearly half of all televised college football games are televised on ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3; including the national championship. With Sling TV you get all 3 ESPN channels in the $20 default subscription package.
Again, you also can go with PlayStation Vue, but you need to be willing to pay the extra $10 a month. Read to find out if PS Vue is right for you “Is Sling TV or PlayStation Vue a Better Option for Cord Cutters“.
For an additional $5 you can unlock the SEC network with Sling’s Sports Extra.
If you cheer for the minor teams as well as the P5 powerhouses, you’ll also want a subscription to College Sports Live. For $10 a month or $100 a year you can get streaming access to dozens of sports, college football including, from over 100 different colleges.
Finally, you can watch college football on OTA television. FOX usually offers at least 1 game a week (either Pac 12 or Big 12 ). ABC is typically good for an evening game and an additional 12 PM national game every week. CBS offers one SEC game every week, and NBC broadcasts most of your home-team games. So while the vast majority of CFB games are on cable/regional sports networks, there are usually 3-6 games on OTA networks each week.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH COLLEGE FOOTBALL ONLINE AND OTA“
MLB Baseball ⇑
The two networks that are responsible for a majority of baseball broadcasts are ESPN and TBS; both of which are available through Sling TV’s default package you’ll get both channels for only.
ESPN has three weekly broadcasts during the regular season, which are: Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball, and Wednesday Night Baseball. In addition to playing regular-season games, ESPN also broadcasts several exhibition games such as the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.
TBS broadcasts a weekly game on Sundays. But since TBS does not own the exclusive rights to the game, local markets are blocked from watching the game.
If you are looking for in-season home team games you will need access to NBC Sports (and in my case NBC Sports Bay Area). Several
However, in the postseason coverage is a little better. TBS broadcasts one of the two League Championship series; trading off between the National and American League each year. TBS also covers two of the four MLB Division Series; again trading off between leagues.
As far as over-the-air television goes, only one network broadcasts games: Fox. With Fox, you’ll get 12 in-market regular-season games, the All-Star Game, a division championship games (which one depends on the year), and the World Series.
Perhaps the most robust non-cable option for baseball is something called MLB.TV. For $110 you get access to every regular season out of market baseball game. The downside, of course, is baseball’s ridiculous blackout rules.
But that is starting to be less of a problem as 15 MLB teams will be lifting their blackout rules next season. Who knows, pretty soon we may lose blackout rules altogether. We can only hope!
As far as postseason goes, your best bet is the subscription service PostSeason.tv. It works like MLB.tv except that you don’t get the official broadcast; rather you get up to 10 alternate camera angles and no announcer. If you truly miss having an announcer, you can always find an online radio broadcast to play the game. PostSeason.tv is not perfect, but for $5 a month, it’s hard to do better.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH BASEBALL ONLINE“
NBA Basketball ⇑
NBA games only air on three television networks: ABC, ESPN, and TNT; with the vast majority of games going ESPN and TNT. In order to get access to ESPN and TNT, you’re going to need a subscription to Sling TV, which will run you $20 a month.
With ESPN, in addition to regular season games, you get access to one of the two conference finals; NBA playoff games that take place on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; the NBA Draft; and the NBA Draft Lottery.
For the most part, TNT is the favored carrier of NBA basketball; and you’ll be able to watch most of the “important” games on TNT. In addition to their regular season play, you’ll get the other half of the NBA conference finals; any NBA playoff game occurring on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday; and the NBA All-Star Game.
If you want to watch TNT games, but you don’t want Sling TV, then you’ll want to check out TNT Overtime.
TNT Overtime allows you to watch NBA games that TNT shows for free. Overtime doesn’t show you the exact broadcast, what it shows you is just four different camera angles of the game. It’s not quite as simple as turning on the TV, but it is better than paying for cable.
To watch the games on ABC, all you’ll need is a standard over-the-air antenna. With ABC, you get 15 regular season games and the NBA Finals.
The most flexible way to watch NBA basketball without cable is to use NBA League Pass. For approximately $200 a year you can get access to every out of market NBA game in the regular season, plus a bunch of extras like classic NBA games. For $120, you can simply follow one team for the whole season (although blackout rules still apply).
What’s really interesting is that NBA League Pass allows you to buy individual games for $7 each. This is a fantastic option if you already have Sling TV and an OTA antenna, but you don’t want to fully commit to League Pass.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH THE 2015-16 NBA SEASON WITHOUT A CABLE BILL“
College Basketball ⇑
You’ll find that you have a wide variety of options when it comes to watching college basketball without cable. With an over-the-air antenna, you can watch college basketball games on CBS, and Fox. However, most college basketball games will still find themselves being televised on ESPN networks.
You can watch ESPN without cable by getting a subscription to Sling TV, which costs $20 a month. That $20 will give you 20+ streamable live television channels; including ESPN and ESPN 2. When March Madness rolls around, Sling will be even more important because in the default package you will also get TBS and TNT; which will broadcast a good bulk of March Madness.
There’s also a $5 sports extra add-on that will give you the SEC Network and ESPN’s Buzzer Beater network.
If your favorite team isn’t very well known or is in a smaller conference, you can also check out College Sports Live. For $10 a month you get access to games from over 100+ different schools from over 30 different sports, basketball included.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH COLLEGE BASKETBALL ONLINE AND OTA“
One of the great things about following an international sport like soccer is that there is a lot of options for cord cutters.
As far as over-the-air television goes; you can catch 34 regular-season Major League Soccer (MLS) games, two MLS playoff games, and the MLS All-Star Game on Univision’s UniMás station. NBC will also broadcast three regular-season MLS games and two MLS playoff games.
Then there’s FuboTV, which costs $7 a month (free trial). For that, you can watch live and on-demand matches from the LFP, LIGUE 1, SERIE A, BUNDESLIGA, & the LIGA Portugal league. Also access Live Soccer Channels like beIN Sports, GOLTV, ENFICATV, FUBOTV Network, & the Daily Football Report.
Next, there’s MLS Live; which shows you every out-of-market Major League Soccer game. It’s cost’s $65 a year and it comes with some DVR-like features. Blackout rules still apply, but they mostly only pertain to games that air on ESPN, ESPN2, NBC, NBCSN, and UniMas; and those games are made available 48 hours afterward.
If American soccer is not your style and you’re looking for more European matches, then Fox’s Soccer 2 Go is perfect for you. For $19.99 a month or $150 a season, you can get access to over 1,200 soccer matches from around the world.
You get access to the following leagues: UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA European Qualifiers, FA Cup Scottish Premier League, Scottish Championship, England Home Internationals, Hyundai A-League, CONCACAF Champions League, CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, CONCACAF U17,s and U20s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH SOCCER ONLINE“
With Sling TV you can get coverage of The Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship; three of the most prestigious golfing tournament in the world.
Over-the-air television is likewise a bit limited since most tournaments now air on the cable-only golf channel, but you can still find a good majority of late-season tournaments on both CBS and NBC.
Though your options are limited, we do have a more robust article on the topic.
To learn more, read “WATCH GOLF ONLINE AND OVER-THE-AIR“
If you’re a cord cutting tennis fan, there’s a lot to be happy about. While the only tennis tournament you can get over-the-air is The French Open; there are still several streaming options to choose from.
A subscription to Sling TV will give you access to ESPN; which broadcasts Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and The Championships. You also get early coverage of the French Open, the US Open, the American ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, the US Open Series, and the American WTP Premier.
On ESPN 3, which requires no subscription, you can get the ATP World Finals as well as the WTA Tour Championship.
You can also subscribe to the service Tennis Channel Plus (iTunes App link). For $70 a year, you can stream access to approximately 650 live events and 45 tournaments.
If Tennis Channel Plus is not enough, then check out Tennis TV (iTunes App link). As the official streaming service of the ATP World Tour and WTA, Tennis TV airs over 2,000 ATP World Tour and WTA matches a year. You can also watch any match on-demand for up to seven days after it airs. Tennis TV costs $20 a month or $130 a year.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH TENNIS ONLINE“
With an over-the-air antenna, will be able to catch a few regional NHL games on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX; with the Stanley Cup finals being broadcasted on NBC. But as you will quickly find out, not very many games are being broadcasted on these channels as of late, so if you are a serious NHL fan, an antenna will not be a great solution for you.
As far as Sling TV is concerned, it won’t be much help to you because ESPN does not broadcast very much hockey. However, you will be able to get the 2016 World Cup of Hockey with ESPN.
Your best cable-free option for Hockey is to go with OTA television as well as a service called NHL Game Center Live. For $159 a year, or eight monthly payments of $19.99, you get access to live out-of-market regular season games; as well as a bunch of extras, like condensed replays.
To see what games you will not be able to watch live with NHL GameCenter LIVE – due to their blackout rules, use the provided Zip Code search tool.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH NHL ONLINE“
If you’re a fan of steel chairs, feather boas, and flying elbow drops; then there’s really only one option for you as a cord cutter, but boy is it a good one. It’s called WWE Network and streaming service packed full of goodies. You can watch every pay-per-view event this year, every past one, and hundreds of classic matches and original content. Simply put: WWE Network is a must for a wrestling fan.
The only downside is that you have to wait an entire month to watch weekly shows like Smackdown and Monday Night Raw. But don’t worry, because Hulu Plus has got you covered with on-demand streaming the day after it airs. It may not be live, but one day is better than 30.
To learn more, read “HOW TO WATCH WWE ONLINE“
Extreme Sports ⇑
Extreme Sports are perhaps the easiest genre of sports to watch without cable. To start, you can get almost 100 percent coverage of the X Games through ESPN 1, 2, 3.To get access to ESPN 1 and 2, all you need is a subscription to Sling TV or DirecTV Now (most popular streaming services available). ESPN 3 is actually free through Watch ESPN. Free Trial offer
If you buy the $5 sports extra add-on, you’ll also get access to the Outdoor channel. The Outdoor channel is, you guessed it, dedicated to all things outdoors; including extreme sports.
Not forgetting about GrindTV, Redbull.TV is also a good source for extreme sports. Available online and through a whole litany of mobile apps, Redbull.TV delivers hundreds of hours air racing, base jumping, you name it.
You can also watch millions of hours of extreme sports on YouTube through the #ExtremeSport tag or check out one of the thousands of YouTube channels dedicated to extreme sports; like the RIDE Channel.
Watching UFC events without cable can be a little tricky as most events are televised on Fox Sports 1 & 2 (now available with Sling TV Multi-Stream), but it’s not impossible. With a simple over-the-air antenna, you can watch Fox UFC Saturday, which airs on Fox and not its respective Sports channels.
If you want to stream live UFC events, then look no further than UFC Fight Pass. For $10 a month, you get access to exclusive UFC fights, a huge library of archived fights, as well as original content and UFC produced shows like The Ultimate Fighter.
You can also stream live Pay-Per-View events if you go to UFC.TV. You’ll still have to pay the full price as if it was over cable, but the plus side is that you don’t have to get locked into a lengthy cable contract in order to do so.
To learn more, read “WATCH UFC ONLINE AND OVER-THE-AIR”
The majority of NASCAR races air on Fox Sports and NBC Sports networks. Fox Sports is now available with Sling TV’s Multi-Stream service but NBC Sports requires a cable subscription.
However, that does not mean you’re completely out of luck. With an over-the-air antenna you can pick up the first 16 races of the Sprint Cup, including the Daytona 500; and you can get the final 7 on NBC.
Also, the first four races of the Xfinity series will on Fox while the last 15 will be televised on NBC. If you happen to have a subscription to Sling TV, you’ll be able to catch highlights on ESPN or you can fill in the gaps with NASCAR radio stream of all the races. It’s not as sexy as 4k, but it’ll get the job done.
To learn more, read “CAN I WATCH NASCAR ONLINE?“
SUMMER OLYMPICS ⇑
Watching the Summer Olympics without a Cable Bill has never been easier. With a simple indoor or outdoor antenna, you can catch all the top events. And if you are looking to round out the edges, and catch 100% of the action, there are services that allow you to do that as well.
For complete details read “HOW TO WATCH THE SUMMER OLYMPICS WITHOUT CABLE“
If you’re tired of paying too much for your sports then good news, you don’t have to. There are tons of cable TV alternatives for fans of every sport and stripe; proving once again that not only does cord cutting offer a cheaper option but also more choice.
Is your favorite sport missing from this list? Then sound off in the comments below, send me a tweet, or shoot me an e-mail and we’ll find out how you can watch sports without cable!