How to Watch ESPN Online Without Cable TV (2021)

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For sports fans, ESPN is really a must-have, especially with so many sports back in action. And with NFL beginning, you absolutely can’t miss Monday Night Football! But what if you don’t have cable? Can you watch ESPN online without cable TV? And is ESPN available to stream for free?

Thankfully, the answer is yes thanks to streaming services like the cable replacement, fuboTV (free 7-day trial), Hulu Live (free trial), and Sling TV(free trial), and other great options. If you’re wondering how to watch ESPN without cable, this guide will explain how. There are several different options, which we will cover in detail below.

How to Watch ESPN Online Without Cable for Free & Cheap: At a Glance

Quick Pick: fuboTV

fubotv

fuboTV recently added ESPN, making it the complete package for watching NFL online. Get all the channels you need, a cloud DVR, and more with no contract. Try it out for yourself free.

TRY THE FREE 7-DAY TRIAL

For sports fans who are also cord-cutters, there are a couple of different ways to watch ESPN online without cable. Note that they are all paid options – but you can watch ESPN free when you take advantage of the free trial options for these streaming services. Here are some of our top recommendations – find the complete list of services further down this page.

fuboTV offers the newest way to watch ESPN and 80+ other important networks, without cable. You can use it on devices like streaming players, smart TVs, computers, and smartphones. It costs $64.99 a month, with no contract or commitment required.

Hulu Live is pretty similar to fuboTV, offering ESPN along with many other important channels. It costs $64.99 a month after the free 7-day trial.

Sling TV is the cheapest option for ESPN streaming without cable. It works on all your favorite devices, from your smartphone to your streaming player (like Roku, Apple TV, AirTV, etc.) Plans start from $30 a month and do not require a contract.

Using Streaming Services to Watch ESPN Without Cable

If you’re new to the world of cable TV alternatives, things can get a bit confusing. Many streaming services include ESPN in their channel lineup – but how does it all actually work? This section will explain the basics of online live streaming services.

Essentially, live streaming services (like Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, etc.) seek to provide a viable alternative to cable TV. They function in a similar way, offering the ability to watch live TV on anywhere from 20-100+ channels, depending on your package. Generally speaking, everything that airs live on cable will also air live on streaming services, so long as they include the relevant channels.

So, how are streaming services any different from cable? Are they better?

The primary differences are in price and flexibility.

First, for pricing – the average cable TV bill now exceeds $100 per month. Compare this to streaming services, which average around $64.99 per month (and can be as low as $25), and it’s easy to see why these options are quite popular!

Second, flexibility – most cable providers lock you into a contract of at least 1 year. Additionally, you can usually only watch cable when you’re at home. On the other hand, streaming services are non-contract, so you can cancel at any time – and they let you watch while on-the-go!

Another difference is in the details of how they actually work. Cable TV requires a cable box, which is usually rented from the cable provider. Streaming services work over the internet and require a streaming device. You’ll have to provide this yourself, but you can use just about anything – like a Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. See our guide to streaming devices for more info.

So, to sum up:

  • Streaming services give you LIVE access to your favorite TV channels
  • Prices span from $40 to $80 per month, with an average of around $64.99
  • No contract is required – cancel any time
  • You’ll need a device to use, like a Roku or a smart TV

Now that we know the basics, let’s dive into specific services that we recommend!

Can I Watch ESPN Online Without Cable via fuboTV?

fuboTV is a streaming service that’s well established and quite popular. Here are the basics:

  • Best for folks who want the biggest selection possible
  • 90+ channels included
  • Highlights include ESPN, AMC, FOX News, Disney, FS1, CNN, and more
  • Watch mainstream sports like NFL or more niche events like the Winter X-Games
  • Good coverage of local sports
  • Plans from $64.99 per month
  • Works on Apple TV, Roku, and other streaming devices, plus mobile devices and more
  • Includes some on-demand content

Try fuboTV free here! You can also learn more in our fuboTV review. 

How to Stream ESPN via Hulu with Live TV

Can you watch ESPN on Hulu? Yes, if you opt for Hulu Live. Hulu with Live TV is one of our top recommendations overall. The service is very affordable, easy to use, and works on all your favorite devices. Here are the basics:

  • Free 7-day trial
  • Best for folks who want both live and on-demand entertainment
  • 50+ channels – Hulu package info here
  • Highlights include ESPN, FS1, AMC, TNT, FOX News, CNN, and more
  • Includes NBC, and other local channels, along with regional sports networks in most areas
  • Great coverage of local sports
  • $64.99 per month, with no contract
  • Works on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, smartphones, tablets, computers, and more
  • Includes a HUGE on-demand library to catch up on past shows

Hulu with Live TV is among our top recommendations because it’s a true one-stop-shop for your entertainment needs. Its live channel lineup is impressive, covering everything from news to sports to TV shows. And when there’s nothing on, the service also comes with an on-demand library to stream any time!

You can check out our Hulu Live review to learn more about the service.

Can I Watch ESPN on Sling TV?

Sling TV is another popular option and a very budget-friendly choice! With plans from $30 a month, it’s a great option if you’re looking to save as much money as possible. Here are the basics:

  • Free 7-day trial
  • Best for folks looking for the cheapest plan possible
  • 25+ channels included on Sling Orange
  • Highlights include ESPN, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network, and more
  • Less coverage of local sports, compared to other options
  • $30 per month, with no contract
  • Add-on channel packages available to expand the selection
  • Works on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, mobile devices, computers, and more
  • Includes limited, on-demand library

Sling TV is an affordable streaming solution. It’s also highly customizable, thanks to the $5 add-on packages that are available. Currently, it’s the cheapest way to stream ESPN without cable.

Our Sling TV review has more information.

Vidgo: The 2nd Cheapest Way to Watch ESPN without Cable TV

Vidgo (free trial) is another great and super cheap option for those who want to watch ESPN. The service is the newest on the market and is gaining popularity.

  • An inexpensive way to get ESPN along with 60+ channels on Vidgo
  • Highlights include ESPN, A&E, Disney, FOX News, and more
  • Some coverage of local channels like ABC
  • $40 per month, no contract
  • Works on Apple TV, Roku, and more devices – best experience on mobile
  • You can stream on up to 3 devices at once
  • Social streaming component

Vidgo is a great new choice for streaming ESPN.

Check out our Vidgo review for more info on the service. Want to try out the 7-day free trial? Click here to try it out free and experience one of the cheapest ways to get ESPN.

Can You Watch ESPN on Amazon Prime?

In recent years, Amazon Prime has become one of the easiest ways to watch Thursday Night Football Online. However, don’t confuse that with Monday Night Football and ESPN. Amazon Prime does not have a deal with ESPN.

So can you watch ESPN on Amazon Prime?  Now, you can’t watch ESPN on Prime… nor can you watch MNF.

Get the ESPN Live Stream Without Cable via YouTube TV

YouTube TV is one of the newer streaming platforms, but it’s growing quickly. It’s got a solid channel lineup, and some unique features like a built-in DVR with unlimited storage, making it a great way to watch ESPN without cable.

  • Best for folks who love to record live TV to watch later
  • 60+ channels included
  • Highlights include ESPN, AMC, CNN, FOX News, FX, and more
  • Great coverage of local sports and local news channels
  • $64.99 per month, no contract
  • Works on Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, mobile devices, and more
  • Includes cloud DVR with unlimited storage (for recording live TV)

YouTube TV is another viable option for watching ESPN without cable. That said, it’s not yet available everywhere, so make sure it’s live in your area!

Take a look at our YouTube TV review to learn more.

How to Watch Sports on Other Channels without Cable

Need to know how to watch games on another channel? Check out the channel-specific guides below:

ABC CBS FOX NBC
ACC Network FOX Sports Florida FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket NBC Sports Northwest 
BeIN Sports FOX Sports Indiana FOX Sports Wisconsin NBC Sports Philadelphia
Big Ten Network FOX Sports Kansas City FS1 NBC Sports Washington
CBS Sports Network FOX Sports Midwest FS2 NESN
ESPN FOX Sports New Orleans Golf Channel NFL Network
ESPN2 FOX Sports North MLB Network NFL RedZone
ESPN3 FOX Sports Ohio Marquee Sports Network NHL Network
ESPNU FOX Sports Oklahoma MSG Pac 12 Network
FOX Sports Atlantic FOX Sports San Diego NBA TV SEC Network
FOX College Sports Central FOX Sports South NBCSN SNY
FOX College Sports Pacific FOX Sports Southeast NBC Sports Bay Area SportsTime Ohio
FOX Sports Arizona FOX Sports Southwest NBC Sports Boston YES Network
FOX Sports Carolinas FOX Sports Sun NBC Sports California
FOX Sports Detroit FOX Sports Tennessee NBC Sports Chicago

Wrapping Up

So there you have it – the best ways to watch ESPN without cable TV! Now, you can watch sports without cable, like NFL (including Monday Night Football and one NFL playoffs game), MLB, NBA, college football (in particular, the Bowl games), College Baseball (including the College World Series), and a whole lot more on the most popular cable channel of all.

Each of these options will provide the ESPN live stream – so the differences lie in the other channels they include, and the features they offer. We recommend checking out the channel lineups to choose the best one for you.

Again, there is no way to legally watch ESPN for free, so you’ll need to pay for a service. That said, you may be able to watch some highlights and clips on ESPN’s website.

You may also be wondering about ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN+.  This $4.99 a month streaming service does not offer the regular ESPN channel. Instead, it’s additional sports and documentaries that are exclusive to the new digital platform and not available on regular ESPN networks.

If you have any questions about how to watch ESPN online without cable, don’t hesitate to ask!

Need help getting rid of cable TV? Make sure to check out our full guide to cable TV alternatives.

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