How to Watch ESPN Online Without Cable TV (2021)

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For sports fans, ESPN is really a must-have channel. It’s the place to go for Sunday Night Baseball and Monday Night Football. But ESPN covers the entire world of sports with all its channels.

But what if you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription? Can you watch ESPN online without cable TV? The answer is a resounding yes. Read on to see your options.

In a hurry? If you just want to start watching sports with the main ESPN channels now, these three services will do that and provide good overall viewing options:

  • Vidgo: for just $55/mo, you get ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, and ESPN Deportes. It provides 90+ other channels including local affiliates and tons of sports. Get Vidgo for just $10 for the first month!
  • Hulu + Live TV: get ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, and ESPN College Extra with their base plan. Try Hulu with a seven-day free trial!
  • FuboTV: Their base plan provides ESPN and ESPN2 along with 36 other sports channels. Check out FuboTV with a seven-day free trial!

Monday Night Football and More

Probably the number one reason people want access to ESPN is so that they can watch Monday Night Football. The groundbreaking nighttime game first showed on ABC but those days are mostly gone.

Occasionally (once a season), Monday Night Football will be simulcast on ABC. But it is always on ESPN — week after week. You will also see a couple of Saturday NFL games.

In addition, ESPN provides great coverage of all the professional leagues: MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, NCAA, MLS, and much more. And you don’t have to pay much to get it all. For just $35/mo, Sling TV offers ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3!

If you go up to $55/mo, Vidgo offers ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, and ESPN Deportes as well as ESPN’s college channels ACC Network, Longhorn Network, and SEC Network.

Watch ESPN With Online Streaming Services

ESPN isn’t broadcast over the airways so you can’t get it with a TV antenna. In the past, that meant that you needed a cable or satellite subscription. But today, ESPN is available via a number of live TV streaming services.

Even ESPN has gotten in on the streaming action. In 2018, they started ESPN+. But it doesn’t allow you to live stream ESPN. It provides access to a lot of live events that do not appear on the regular channels. Check out our full review of ESPN+.

For cord-cutters who want ESPN, streaming services are your primary option. Luckily, because the ESPN channels are so popular, most services provide access to them in their base plans.

Given how well ESPN is supported, your choice of service will probably be driven more by the other channels provided and the price of the service. Here are the base ESPN channels and how each streaming service provides them:

ChannelDirecTV*FuboHuluSlingVidgo
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPN3
ESPNews💲💲
ESPNU💲💲
ESPN College Extra
ESPN Deportes💲💲💲
* DirecTV Stream offers ESPNews and ESPNU with their Choice plan.

Vidgo

vidgo

Vidgo offers a great deal. For just $55/mo, you get the most important channels: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, and ESPN Deportes.

Additionally, you get the three college-oriented channels: ACC Network, Longhorn Network, and SEC Network.

Base ChannelsESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes
ESPN Add-ons
Total Channels95+
Cloud DVR
Simultaneous Screens3
Free Trial
Vidgo Price*$55.00/mo
* Vidgo offers the first month for $10.

Vidgo’s philosophy is to keep it simple. There are no regular add-ons. But you probably don’t need them. They provide local affiliates for ABC and Fox in most areas; they offer family-friendly channels like Disney and Nick Jr. And they provide great sports channels like FS1, FS2, 6 Pac-12 channels, SEC Network, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone!

Enticed? Check out these articles for more details:

Hulu + Live TV

hulu tv

If ESPN is the focus of your TV viewing, Hulu + Live TV is a great way to go. They offer one of the best selections of ESPN channels of any base plan: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, and ESPN College Extra.

They also provide the ESPN college channels ACC Network and SEC Network.

Base ChannelsESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN College Extra
ESPN Add-onsESPN Deportes
Total Channels85+
Cloud DVR50 hours
Simultaneous Screens2
Free Trial
Hulu Price$64.99/mo

Of the two ESPN channels that don’t come with the base plan, you can get ESPN Deportes with the Español add-on for an additional $4.99/mo. Although Hulu Live TV doesn’t offer ESPN3, it is available on the ESPN app using your Hulu subscription.

In addition to the ESPN channels, Hulu + Live TV offers a good selection of other channels including local affiliates and sports channels like the ESPN SEC Network as well as its exceptional on-demand content library. You can try Hulu for 7-days at no cost.

Want more information? Check out these resources:

Fubo TV

fubotv

FuboTV’s base plan only includes the basics: ESPN and ESPN2. You can add ESPNews and ESPNU with either the Fubo Extra ($7.99/mo) or Sports Plus ($10.99/mo) add-ons. Both those add-ons also provide ACC Network and SEC Network from ESPN

And you can Get ESPN Deportes with either the International Sports Plus ($6.99/mo) or Latino Plus ($19.99/mo) add-ons.

Base ChannelsESPN, ESPN2
ESPN Add-onsESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes
Total Channels100+
Cloud DVR250 hours
Simultaneous Screens3
Free Trial
FuboTV Price$64.99/mo

But if you are a sports fan, you may not need more than the two ESPN channels. FuboTV’s base plan comes with 38 sports channels including 9 beIN Sports channels, 4 Big Ten Network channels, the two Fox Sports channels, 12 TUDN channels, NBCSN, CBS Sports Network, Olympic Channel, and NFL Network.

You can try fuboTV’s free trial for 7 days and see for yourself.

If this piqued your interest but you want to know more, check out these resources:

Sling TV

Sling TV Logo

For just $35 per month, the Sling Orange plan offers ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3. While you can get ESPN3 via ESPN’s app, it’s a nice touch that Sling TV integrates it with its interface.

You can add ESPNU and ESPNews with the Sports Extra ($11/mo) add-on. This also includes the ESPN channels SEC Network (base and Plus), ACC Network (base and Extra), and Longhorn Network. To make it even better, this includes MLB Network, NBA TV, and NFL Network.

Base ChannelsESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3
ESPN Add-onsESPNews, ESPNU
Total Channels30+
Cloud DVR50 hours
Simultaneous Screens1
Free Trial
Sling TV Price*$35.00/mo
* Sling TV offers the first month for $10.

The Orange plan offers 30 other channels including CNN, HGTV, and TBS. If you want local channels (Fox and NBC) and more sports, you can combine this plan with the Blue plan for a total of 50 channels. You can get Sling TV for $10 for your first month.

You can find more details with the following guides:

Sling TV Home Page on Amazon Fire TV
Sling TV running on an Amazon Fire TV device.

DirecTV Stream (Formerly AT&T TV)

DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream’s base plan only includes ESPN and ESPN2, although that is a lot! If you want, you can add ESPN Deportes with the Deportes package for an extra $5 per month.

You can also get ESPNews and ESPNU if you upgrade to the Choice package. It costs $84.99/mo and comes with 90+ channels and access to the best collection of regional sports networks in the industry. As an added bonus, you get HBO MAX for the first year free.

Base ChannelsESPN, ESPN2
ESPN Add-onsESPN Deportes
Total Channels65+
Cloud DVR20 hours
Simultaneous Screens20
Free Trial*
DirecTV Stream Price$69.99/mo
* DirecTV Stream provides a 14-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for free if you pay upfront.

DirecTV Stream will probably be especially appealing to cord-cutters who are currently AT&T or DirecTV subscribers. If you sign up for DirecTV Stream and change your mind, you can get your money back within 14-days.

Get more information in the following guides:

Other Options To Stream ESPN

If the streaming services we reviewed above are not what you’re looking for, you can watch ESPN without cable using the following services:

  • YouTube TV: This is a solid package of 85+ channels that includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, and ESPNU. You also get a good selection of local channels and sports channels.
  • ESPN+: Although it isn’t a replacement for the ESPN channels, ESPN+ gives access to a lot of live sports content (as well as an on-demand library) for a low price. There are many other events you can stream by logging in with your TV provider (cable, satellite, streaming).

TVs and Other Devices to Watch ESPN

Sports on FuboTV Android App
FuboTV running on the Android phone app.

You should be able to watch ESPN on most devices that you own. As long as your device is recognized by the streaming service you’ve chosen, you’re covered.

TVs and TV Devices

To use a streaming service with your TV, you need to have a supported smart TV or TV device. Pretty much every service supports smart TVs from the last 5 years — especially those from Samsung.

They also all support the following devices and operating systems:

  • Amazon Fire TV: This device plugs into your TV’s HDMI jack and makes it “smart” — able to run the various streaming apps available.
  • Android TV: This is roughly the Amazon Fire TV but built into TVs like the Hisense.
  • Apple TV: Roughly the same as the Fire TV stick but from Apple.
  • Roku: One of the earliest devices to augment TVs to run apps.

Mobile Streaming Devices

All the streaming services support the major smartphones and tablets.

  • Android Phones: All the more recent Android-powered smartphones.
  • iOS devices (iPhones, iPads): Apple’s more recent smartphones and tablets.

Any computer, laptop, or other device with a web browser can display ESPN with the streaming services listed above. Some of these devices can also be connected to a regular (non-smart) TV.

A similar feature is available with Chromecast, which allows you to stream from your phone to your TV. It is really simple to do.

Gaming Consules and VR

Lots of people watch movies on their gaming consoles. Except for DirecTV Stream and Vidgo, all the services support Xbox. Hulu supports PlayStation and Echo Show. And if VR is your thing, Sling TV supports Oculus.

What ESPN Channels Are Available?

ESPN started as a regional sports channel in 1979 as the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. But even before it went live it was a national channel. In 1988, ESPN expanded to other nations. And in 1993, a second channel was added with more to follow.

ABC bought a controlling interest in ESPN in 1984. As a result of mergers, that means The Walt Disney Company now owns 80% of ESPN.

  • ESPN: The flagship channel of the network that broadcasts many live sporting events but also shows like SportsCenter.
  • ESPN2: Acts as a spillover channel for ESPN with events from MLB, WNBA, and NCAA football and basketball. It is also the base for ESPN’s tennis coverage.
  • ESPN3: A streaming service that presents an array of sporting events including soccer. Much of its content has been moved to the pay-service ESPN+ over the last few years.
  • ESPNews: Despite the name, it broadcasts repeats of events although it does feature some live events and shows.
  • ESPNU: Broadcasts a wide selection of college sports. It’s related to the later formed Longhorn Network, SEC Network, and ACC Network.
  • ESPN Classic: broadcasts mostly old games and shows. It is the only ESPN channel not broadcast in HD because most of what it shows predated HDTV. No major streaming service offers it.
  • ESPN College Extra: Focuses on college football and basketball live games drawn from ESPN3.
  • ESPN Deportes: As the name implies, the Spanish-language ESPN with live events and shows.

ESPN also operates a number of networks focused on specific areas of college sports:

  • ACC Network: Focuses on sports involving the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • ACC Network Extra: Predates ACC Network and continues to show events that don’t fit on the main channel.
  • Longhorn Network: Shows and live events involving the University of Texas, Austin.
  • SEC Network: Covers all sports in the Southeastern Conference.
  • SEC Network Plus: Spillover content from SEC Network.

Wrapping Up

The ESPN channels are a mainstay of cable TV. ESPN and ESPN2 are offered in the basic plans of all the major streaming services. And all the others (with the exception of ESPN Classic) are available for little or no extra charge.

If you’ve been thinking of cutting the cord, you shouldn’t worry about ESPN. The major streaming services have it covered — even the low-cost providers.

Still have some questions about enjoying ESPN without the hassle of a cable or satellite contract? These resources will help:

See this streaming service guide to compare what they have to offer.

FAQs

Can I watch ESPN on Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime Video is an on-demand streaming service so it doesn’t air live games. It does, however, stream some content. In particular, you can watch the ESPN documentary series 30 for 30. However, this is not available free to Prime subscribers; you can buy episodes and seasons.

Can I watch ESPN for free?

You cannot watch live games on ESPN for free outside of a free trial with a streaming service. If you install the ESPN app, you can watch clips from events and shows. But it is frustrating and you will probably find yourself signing up for ESPN+ before long.

Can I watch ESPN live with ESPN+?

ESPN+ allows you to watch many live events. It does not, however, allow you to watch live events that are showing on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN+ is an addition to these channels, not a replacement. Note that ESPN+ is a pay-service that costs $5.99/mo or $59.99/yr.

What is the cheapest way to stream ESPN?

Sling TV is the cheapest way to stream ESPN. For $35 per month, they provide you with ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3. For an additional $11/mo you can get the Sports Extra add-on, which also gives you ESPNU and ESPNews. For $55/mo, Vidgo offers you ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, and ESPN Deportes.

What does ESPN offer other than live sports?

ESPN has developed many shows over the years. These go far beyond pregame shows like Monday Night Countdown and NBA Countdown. Some of the most popular ESPN shows are:

  • Around the Horn: A sports panel show with notable sportswriters.
  • Baseball Tonight: One-hour discussion of what’s happening in MLB.
  • E:60: More or less the 60 Minutes of sports.
  • Get Up!: Two hours of sports talk each weekday morning.
  • First Take: Two hours of sports discussion right after Get Up!
  • Pardon the Interruption: A lively discussion of sports news.
  • SportsCenter: ESPN’s flagship program provides sports news and information.

Is Monday Night Football on ABC?

Monday Night Football is rarely on ABC. Although the weekly event started on ABC, once ESPN became part of Walt Disney, the game was moved. Monday Night Football does, however, sometimes simulcast on ABC, like it did the first week of the 2021 season. And ABC will air two Saturday games at the end of the season.

0 replies on “How to Watch ESPN Online Without Cable TV (2021)”

It’s lame we can’t just pay for ESPN… I don’t want all that other crap.. Why don’t they have some type of a la cart deal?

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