To keep this resource free, Cordcutting.com is compensated by certain providers listed below. Learn More To keep this resource free, Cordcutting.com is compensated by certain providers listed below. Learn More
 


$50. Speeds of up to 100 Mbps. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet might be the single most exciting deal in home internet. Sign up today.

Cable has been losing ground to cord-cutting solutions for years, thanks in part to on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. With movies and TV shows readily available to stream, it has been tough for traditional pay TV companies to make a case for live TV. But there is at least one area in which live TV still dominates: sports. That has left many cord-cutters — or would-be cord-cutters — asking how to watch sports without cable.

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

  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

$4.99 – $99.99 N/A 7 days

See Offer

Sports may be cable’s best argument. They’re best watched live, which means they’re DVR-proof — a boon to cable networks’ advertising revenue — and immune to services with on-demand models like Netflix’s. But the “get cable because of sports” argument is fading quickly, as more people figure out how to watch sports without cable. For that, we can thank the rapidly expanding live TV streaming arms race, the resurgence of free over-the-air TV, and the direct-to-consumer streaming services offered by sports leagues themselves. Watching sports without cable is easier than ever, but there are a lot of options. This is our complete guide to how to watch sports without cable.

How to Watch Sports Online and Over the Air Without Cable

Our list of ways to watch sports as a cord-cutter starts with live TV streaming services. No single innovation has been bigger for cord-cutting sports fans than the rise of live TV streaming services, or “skinny bundles.” Years ago, when we first asked how to watch ESPN without cable, the answer was pretty short: You couldn’t! Cord-cutters now have tons of better answers, including live TV streaming services, which offer live TV channels without overcharging or locking you into mandatory long-term contracts.

Also on our list are a few streaming solutions that combine livestreams with on-demand content, such as ESPN Plus, which offers live sports and on-demand content like the “30 for 30” documentary series.

Then there are sport-specific streaming services run by leagues such as MLB. These services typically allow you to stream any game that’s not on TV in your area. The sports streaming blackout rules are annoying, but some of these services are great for out-of-market fans.

Finally, our list includes free over-the-air TV (OTA), which, as you’ll see, is exactly what it sounds like.

Let’s get to our list of ways to watch sports as a cord-cutter.

Stream sports for free with DIRECTV Stream

Try It

DIRECTV Stream is a fairly typical streaming service that offers ESPN, ESPN2, and FS1 in every bundle, as well as major networks. You'll also find some regional sports networks in most DIRECTV Stream packages. Check out our full review of DIRECTV Stream to learn more about the service that previously went by DIRECTV NOW, AT&T TV NOW, and AT&T TV.

Stream sports for free with Hulu

Free Trial

Hulu + Live TV includes channels such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, and NBCSN, among other sports channels. Its local feeds of major networks such as CBS and FOX should please NFL fans. Hulu + Live TV also offers some regional sports networks. We were impressed by the service in our review of Hulu + Live TV.

Stream sports for free with fuboTV

Free Trial

fuboTV has a sports focus, so it’s a no-brainer for sports-loving cord-cutters. It’s even more of a no-brainer after the addition of ESPN to its lineup in 2020. fuboTV’s sports focus gives sports fans some extra perks, including easy-to-use menus centered around sports-league schedules. This skinny bundle is marketed squarely at sports fans, and it’s a great pick for soccer fans in particular. Check out our full review of fuboTV to learn more.

Stream sports with Sling TV

Try It

Sling TV is one of the best options for cost-conscious sports fans. ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, and NBCSN are on offer, as are many RSNs. If you live in the right market, you can even livestream FOX and NBC. Sling TV is also noteworthy for its somewhat a la carte business model, which starts you off with a base package and then invites you to build a customized bundle with add-on packages. This allows for the creation of sports-centric bundles that trim the fat in order to remain cost-effective.

Stream sports with ESPN+

Try It

ESPN’s stand-alone service serves up live sports, talk and analysis shows, and a solid on-demand library that includes everything from “30 for 30” documentaries to replays of recent and classic sports games, matches, and races. ESPN Plus does not feature an ESPN livestream, but ESPN Plus livestreams include live sporting events such as college football games and — thanks to partnerships with MLS and the NHL — soccer and hockey games. The service keeps getting more impressive, which is reflected in the latest version of our always up-to-date ESPN Plus review.

Stream sports with Paramount+

Try It

What does Paramount Plus have to do with sports? Quite a lot, actually! It’s owned by ViacomCBS, and it lets you watch soccer, golf, basketball, and NFL games. It has only been around since early 2021, but Paramount Plus is clearly trying to appeal to sports fans. Our Paramount Plus review can tell you what does and doesn’t work about the service.

YouTube TV

Google’s skinny bundle, YouTube TV, is a great way to watch live sports without cable. YouTube TV’s streaming sports selection includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, and major networks that broadcast everything from the Super Bowl to tennis majors.

Peacock

Peacock is NBC’s streaming service, and it combines on-demand content with livestreaming events. Peacock’s sports options include live coverage of certain Premier League games (usually not the same ones available on NBC’s over-the-air channel or its sports network, NBCSN). Peacock offers a free tier, but you’ll have to pay for the premier tier to unlock the sports-related livestreams.

Free Over-the-Air TV

Free over-the-air TV (OTA) allows viewers in many areas to get the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) for free. Free over-the-air TV is especially great for NFL fans, since the NFL airs its games primarily on CBS, FOX, and NBC, and the Super Bowl is always on one of those three channels. Fans of college basketball, college football, the NBA, the NHL, MLB, and soccer also will find at least some games — particularly big games and championship matches.

Sport-by-Sport Specifics, League Streaming Services, and More

Skinny bundles and free over-the-air TV will net you a diverse array of channels to cover many of your sports needs. But if there’s one particular sport or league you’re dying to watch, then you may appreciate the sport- and league-specific guides below, as well as our information about a vital tool for sports-loving cord-cutters: the league streaming service.

Unlike skinny bundles, league streaming services are event-focused rather than channel focused — the streams are live during games, and that’s it. The leagues generally offer every game you can’t get with a local cable package, which means national broadcasts and home games for your local team are usually blacked out.

Read on for more on how to watch sports without cable, including information about specific sports and league streaming services.

NBA Basketball

The NBA’s big presence on cable TV makes skinny bundles a must for NBA fans. OTA can be valuable, too, since some games are on ABC. NBA League Pass, the league’s streaming service, is also worth checking out. You’ve got options for watching the NBA without cable!

NBA League Pass

NBA League Pass is a little pricey (NBA TV rights aren’t cheap, so the league isn’t about to offer any direct-to-consumer bargains), but it’s a worthwhile investment for basketball fans. We haven’t reviewed it yet, but NBA fans seem happy with it after a rough patch a few years ago.

NCAA Sports

College sports are easy to watch without cable. Though the NCAA doesn’t have a subscription streaming service, the channels that broadcast college football and basketball games can be obtained via skinny bundles. Plus, some of the biggest college action can be found on OTA networks. Check out our guides to watching NCAA football without cable and watching NCAA basketball without cable for more information.

NFL Football

The NFL lacks a league streaming service like MLB.TV, but there are still a lot of ways to watch the NFL without cable. The NFL-loving cord-cutter’s best friend is an OTA antenna, which will give you access to the big Sunday broadcasts on CBS, FOX, and NBC. The Super Bowl is always on a broadcast channel too.

NHL Hockey

The hard-hitting action of the NHL is best secured via a skinny bundle, because they offer the regional sports networks and national channels that air local games and the league’s marquee matchups. Superfans may also want to check out NHL.TV.

NHL.TV

NHL.TV, formerly known as NHL GameCenter Live (why did they get rid of such a simple and elegant name?), is the NHL’s take on a league streaming service. It works pretty much exactly how you’d expect. You can read our review of the service to find out more.

MLB Baseball

Skinny bundles are a valuable option for MLB fans, because many of them offer access to the regional sports networks that cover local games. OTA is key, too, because World Series games and other playoffs games often are on broadcast television. For everything else, you may want to check out MLB.TV. For more information, see our complete guide to watching MLB without cable.

MLB.TV

MLB.TV was the first of these services to emerge, and it remains the gold standard for league streaming services. The company behind it — MLB Advanced Media — is now one of the most reputable streaming companies on the planet, and MLB.TV is nearly flawless. Check out our review of MLB.TV.

MLS Soccer

MLS fans may find their favorite team’s local broadcast on a regional sports network offered by some skinny bundles. You may want to grab a free trial to see what’s available in your region. For die-hards who want more than just local games, the answer is MLS Live. MLS Live is now part of ESPN Plus, so it’s no longer a stand-alone league streaming service like MLB.TV. Still, the MLS Live feature on ESPN Plus works pretty much the same way as other league streaming services: You’ll get live regular-season games with some blackouts. (MLS Live’s local-market blackouts aren’t as stringent as other league streaming services’. In-market streaming is available for select teams.)

Premier League Soccer

Watching England’s top-flight soccer league without cable isn’t tough. You just need a mix of over-the-air and skinny-bundle solutions. Check out our full article on how to watch the Premier League as a cord-cutter to learn more.

WWE Wrestling

If wrestling is your thing, cutting the cord is easy. The WWE made streaming its future when it started WWE Network a few years ago, and the network was absorbed by Peacock, NBC’s stand-alone streaming service, in spring 2021. You’ll find the most WWE content on Peacock, but there are still a couple other options you can learn about in our guide to watching WWE without cable.

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

The live TV streaming services mentioned above have excellent platform support. You can watch sports on just about every available device, as you’ll see from the chart below.

Roku Fire TV Apple TV Android TV Chromecast iOS Android Web/
browser
DIRECTV Stream
Philo
Hulu + Live TV
fuboTV
Sling TV
Youtube TV

ESPN Plus and Paramount Plus also work with all the devices listed, as does Peacock.

More for Sports Fans: Beating Sports Blackouts

If you’re both a sports fan and a cord-cutter, then streaming blackouts are your enemy. Fortunately, you have some options for beating blackouts on services such as MLB.TV. If you’re serious about using streaming services to watch sports blacked out in your area, you could try to get around regional blackouts using a VPN. Clever VPN use may allow you to change your IP address and shift your location to a place where the blackout isn’t in effect so you can stream your favorite team’s game after all.

8 thoughts on “How to Watch Sports Without Cable

  1. Steve Hilliard says:

    Useful article when I first found cord cutting, but you just updated this month and left out Youtube TV? Big omission, considering they carry CNBC (for the occasional PL game) when you have to add it to Sling.

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      Hi Steve,

      We didn’t mention YouTube TV, yet, because of its limited availability. But we will in our next update. Thanks for pointing out!

  2. Julie says:

    If you cut the cord and sign up for a skinny bundle, how do you estimate the increased data requirement you’ll need from your ISP? This is part of the trade-off, right, as now you will be using your internet lines instead of cable lines?

  3. Taika2 says:

    How about volleyball? Any way to do that without cable? Specifically US Women’s college games, but volleyball in general too. Thanks.

  4. Danny says:

    Why can’t there be a streaming service that just has sports channels? I would pay $40 to $60 a month if it had the channels I like.

  5. Audelio says:

    Dont get ESPN you wont be able to watch live sports games. They still require you to have a TV provider to see games.

  6. JustWantToWatch says:

    now if we can get sports without the narrative it would be amazing!!!

  7. Korea Betting Member says:

    Great Blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.