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Replacing your favorite shows and movies after cutting the cable cord is pretty easy, thanks to services such as Hulu, Netflix, and HBO. But what about sports? They’re a little tougher, because they’re live events that are in the hands of live network TV channels. But they’re not that much tougher. You may already know you can get major-network sports broadcasts for free over the air. There are also ways to get network sports channels such as ESPN, even though they’re not available over the air. Getting an ESPN live stream on your computer, smart TV, or streaming device is easier than ever. Read on to find out how to watch ESPN without cable.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream ESPN:

  Price Channels Free Trial  
$69.99 – $139.99 65+ None

See Offer

$5.99 – $85.96 68 – 88 7 or 30 days

See Offer

$64.99 – $33.00 220+ 7 days

See Offer

$35 – $50 30+ – 130+ 3 days

See Offer

$6.99 – $13.99 N/A None

See Offer

How to Watch ESPN Online Without Cable

ESPN is the most popular sports channel on cable — but you don’t actually need to have cable (or satellite) to watch it. ESPN is available on another type of pay TV service too: live TV streaming service.

Like cable services, live TV streaming services offer bundles of popular channels for a monthly fee. But, unlike most cable services, live TV streaming services don’t mandate long-term contracts. (Most don’t even offer long-term contracts.) Live TV streaming services stream online (hence the name), which means you can watch them anytime, anywhere on your favorite streaming device, whether that’s your Roku TV at home or your iPhone on the go.

ESPN’s live TV network is available only through pay TV services like this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also talk about ESPN’s own streaming service, ESPN Plus. There’s no ESPN livestream on ESPN Plus, but there’s still a lot to love, so we’re including it on our full list below. Here’s how to watch ESPN online.

Stream ESPN for free with DIRECTV Stream

See Offer

Unlike some other live TV streaming services, DIRECTV Stream doesn't seem to fit the term “skinny bundle.” The DIRECTV Stream channel list is every bit as robust as what you’d get from cable or satellite, and it includes ESPN and sister channels such as ESPN2.

Stream ESPN for free with Hulu

Free Trial

Hulu + Live TV is the live TV streaming option available through Hulu. With Hulu + Live TV, you’ll get Hulu’s complete on-demand library and livestreams of your favorite network TV stations, including ESPN and spin-off channels such as ESPN2. This service fared well in our Hulu + Live TV review.

Stream ESPN for free with fuboTV

Free Trial

fuboTV is an impressive skinny bundle that comes loaded with extra perks for sports fans. (The service once catered specifically to soccer fans, though that was a long time ago and the service is now aimed at TV fans of all sorts.) Naturally, fuboTV wouldn’t be much of a sports option without ESPN, so it’s no wonder ESPN — as well as sister networks such as ESPN2 — can be found on fuboTV’s channel list.

Stream ESPN with Sling TV

Try It

Sling TV is Dish’s skinny bundle. It’s the elder statesman of the group, having been available on a range of platforms for longer than any of the others. Sling TV uses an “a la carte” model, allowing you to choose a base package and then customize it by adding your choice of additional mini-bundles. Among your options are ESPN and a host of ESPN spin-off channels.

Stream ESPN with ESPN+

Try It

ESPN Plus is an outlier on this list, because it doesn’t actually include a livestream of the ESPN cable network. So why are we including it? ESPN Plus is jam-packed with ESPN content, including replays of ESPN programming, on-demand sports documentaries from the “30 for 30” series, and, yes, even live sports, including matchups you can only watch on ESPN Plus. ESPN Plus’ pricing makes it easy to tack on to other subscriptions, and we recommend it for ESPN fanatics. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there is no ESPN Plus free trial. We still love this service, though — check out our ESPN Plus review to learn more.

YouTube TV

If the question is how to watch ESPN without cable, one of the best answers is YouTube TV. Google’s take on the skinny bundle offers great streaming quality and content-discovery features, plus access to original content from YouTube Premium. (YouTube Premium, formerly known as YouTube Red, is Google’s ad-removing premium subscription service for regular YouTube.) Like many competitors, YouTube TV offers a weeklong free trial. To learn more, check out our full YouTube TV review.

Can I Watch ESPN on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?

Good news: If you have a relatively recent model from any of the Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast families of devices, you will have a ton of options for watching ESPN without cable.

Roku Fire TV Apple TV Android TV Chromecast iOS Android Web browser
DIRECTV Stream Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hulu + Live TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
fuboTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sling TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
YouTube TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

ESPN Plus offers great platform support as well. You likely won’t have any trouble grabbing the ESPN Plus app on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, iOS, or Android, and you can also use ESPN Plus in your browser on PC, Mac, or Linux.

Should You Check Out ESPN Plus?

We included ESPN Plus on our list because it’s a great choice for ESPN fans. It has a ton of ESPN content, including live broadcasts of sporting events. But ESPN Plus doesn’t have a livestream of ESPN’s flagship television network, which is what our list is all about. That can be frustrating for ESPN fans, who might fairly ask whether ESPN Plus is worth it without an ESPN livestream.

That’s a question we set out to answer in our ESPN Plus review. ESPN Plus is not a substitute for an ESPN livestream, but we found that it made a great addition to ESPN’s TV networks. ESPN Plus is loaded with great sports content, including live NHL games, exclusive NBA content, and more. It’s a good service for die-hard sports fans who just can’t get enough of ESPN and live sports.

8 thoughts on “How to Watch ESPN Without Cable

  1. Mickie Dowdy says:

    Is this something that seniors can manage without problems? We aren’t too smart on computers or changing from cable to a box to get our favorite shows.

    1. says:

      It is! You can just choose one of the live TV streaming services listed above, click the “Try [Service] for free,” and follow the instructions.

    2. Jjj says:

      My mother, who is 75 and can’t use a smartphone or tablet, uses her Roku box with ease. And she has been for six years now.

    3. Eric says:

      I’m looking for just 4 channels

      1. ESPN
      2. Discovery
      3. History
      4. FoxNews

      I was thinking Sling but I can’t get all 4 in one package.

      1. Taylor says:

        If you have Spectrum ask them for the TV choice package. Local channels plus any 10 channels you choose.

      2. Derek says:


        Spectrum TV Choice will let you choose any 10 channels plus locals for less than $30. But you have to subscribe to their internet too

  2. José Prol says:

    I live in Mexico and would like to receive the ESPN channels cable free. Suggestions? Thanks

  3. Dave says:

    espn+ is a joke. Should be called espn- which it what it really covers (all but the premium live sporting events).

    Most folks that say they want espn meaning they want to watch live sports. Great examples are Monday Night Football, their college team or Prem. Soccer events. ESPN+ does not get you there.

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