Watching live sports used to be the biggest reason people kept their cable subscription, but now it’s easier than ever to stream sports without cable. In this article of How to Cut the Cord, we’ll take a look at the cable-replacement services and other streaming options that let you cancel cable and still watch live sports.

Earlier posts in Flixed’s How to Cut the Cord series looked at live TV and on-demand streaming services. Our next post will address more narrowly-focused services and then we’ll explain how to avoid subscription fatigue. The concluding posts will explain how the right streaming hardware can improve your life as a cord-cutter.

Best Cable-Replacement Services for Sports

A lot of companies are competing to replace your cable company, but these three services are the best ones for sports fans. You will want to check each service to make sure they can stream your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations since the lineups vary from market to market.

fuboTV

fubotv simultaneous streams
Source: FuboTV

If soccer is your priority, then fuboTV could be your best choice. The company got its start as a purely soccer-focused streaming service. You’ll get networks like beIN Sports and Eleven Sports as well as Spanish-language networks like Univision and Galavisión. But fuboTV is about more than just soccer. It now carries a mainstream mix of entertainment and lifestyle channels as well as the major broadcast networks.

There is one catch for general sports fans. You can’t watch ESPN on fuboTV.

fuboTV offers a compelling set of standard and premium features. You can upgrade from the standard thirty-hour cloud DVR to a five hundred hour cloud DVR for only $10 per month.

As long as you have the hardware to support it, you can watch content in 4K resolution as well as in HDR10 high dynamic range color gamuts. At this point, however, 4K/HDR is a beta service and only works with baseball games on FS1 and Premier League soccer on NBCSN.

Free 7-day Trial

Subscribe Now
 

Sling TV

sling tv simultaneous streams
Source: Sling TV

Sling TV is another good option for cord-cutters, although it isn’t perfect. Subscribing to the combined Sling Orange and Sling Blue services will give you access to ESPN as well as the Fox and NBC sports channels. The NFL Network comes standard and a $5 upgrade will add the MLB, NHL, NBA and Tennis channels. However, Sling TV does not support ABC or CBS which means losing out on important programming.

Sling Orange
Free Roku Deal
$25.00/ month

34 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

1 simultaneous stream.

SIGN UP
Sling Blue
Free Roku Deal$25.00/ month

49 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

3 simultaneous streams

SIGN UP
Sling Orange + Blue
Free Roku Deal
$40.00/ month

56 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

4* simultaneous streams

SIGN UP
* You get 1 stream for Sling Orange channels and up to 3 simultaneous streams for Sling Blue channels.

Another weakness of Sling TV’s offering is the fact that the cloud DVR requires an additional $5 monthly payment. Also, channels like ESPN that are only available through Sling Orange won’t work with the cloud DVR and can only stream to a single device. Balancing those issues, in part, Sling TV has the widest assortment of streaming apps in the industry.

PlayStation Vue

how to cancel playstation vue
Source: PlayStation Vue

The best all-around streaming service for sports fans is Sony’s PlayStation Vue. It carries all of the basic cable and broadcast channels you need to watch most major sports as well as league-owned channels like the NFL Network. The biggest exception is soccer which isn’t as widely available on traditional channels.

The rest of PlayStation Vue’s channel lineup delivers a solid balance of entertainment, news and lifestyle content.

Access
5-Day Free Trial
$44.99/ month

50 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Core
5-Day Free Trial
$49.99/ month

75 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Elite
5-Day Free Trial
$59.99/ month

96 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Ultra
5-Day Free Trial
$79.99/ month

98 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
* You get 3 streams to use in-home or out-of-home streams and 2 extra streams to use in-home.

PlayStation Vue’s pricing isn’t always the lowest, but that’s a little deceiving. Premium features that require expensive upgrades on other services are standard with every PlayStation Vue subscription plan. This includes the cloud DVR’s unlimited recording capacity and the five-device limit on simultaneous streaming.

And you don’t need a PlayStation gaming console to use it. Sony has produced apps for almost every streaming platform on the market.

Free 5-day Trial

Subscribe Now

Dedicated Sports Streaming Services

Some sports simply aren’t available on the traditional cable channels. These three services carry more matches from more sports… for more money.

DAZN

DAZN is a sports-centric streaming service that operates in multiple countries. In the United States, DAZN’s offering is limited to boxing and mixed martial arts. The annual subscription covers access to more than 100 fights per year “without the pain of PPV.”

DAZN U.S
$8.33/month annually
$19.99/ month

Matchroom Boxing events

Bellator MMA events

100+ sports events.

3 simultaneous streams

SIGN UP

In Canada, DAZN is more well-rounded. In addition to fights, you can watch European soccer leagues, hockey, tennis, darts and more. Most importantly, DAZN is the only way Canadians can stream the National Football League.

58% off with annual plan.

Subscribe Now

ESPN+

stream espn+
Source: ESPN+

Some people dismissed ESPN+ when the network launched its subscription streaming service. Why would anyone pay to watch games too insignificant for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN W or ESPN’s college conference channels?

ESPN+
Monthly Plan
$4.99/ month

NHL and MLB games

Exclusive distributor of UFC PPV events.

ESPN+ Originals

3 simultaneous streams

SIGN UP
ESPN+
Annual Plan - 2 Months Free!
$49.99/ Year

NHL and MLB games

Exclusive distributor of UFC PPV events.

ESPN+ Originals

3 simultaneous streams

SIGN UP

It wasn’t too long before people stopped laughing. ESPN+ signed deals to replace Major League Soccer’s streaming service, to carry the biggest UFC and Top Rank Boxing fights, big games from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The service streams high definition video at 60 frames per second with no additional advertising. And it only costs $5 per month.

Annual Plan - 2 Months Free!

Subscribe Now

B/R Live

Stream B/R Live
Source: B/R Live

The sports news site Bleacher Report launched B/R Live, its own sports streaming service, last year. While some of the content is free to watch, most live sports events require a subscription. B/R Live Soccer Pass, for example, lets you watch soccer matches from UEFA and other European soccer leagues at a $10-per-month rate.

NBC Sports Gold

Watch NBC Sports Gold
Source: NBC Sports Gold

NBC Sports Gold operates on a similar sport-by-sport basis with dedicated subscription plans for Premier League soccer, figure skating, Indy car racing and more. The NBC Sports Gold app is available on the major mobile platforms as well as TV-connected devices like Apple TV and Roku.

Where to Watch Live Sports

The availability of major sports will vary depending on which networks the leagues signed deals with and which networks the streaming services carry. Here’s a rundown of major professional sports and how to stream them live.

Baseball

Stream Yankees Baseball on MLB.TV
Source: MLB

Watching the most Major League Baseball possible is tricky because so many games are only available on regional sports networks. Check out Flixed’s team-by-team articles for detailed explanations of how to stream your favorite teams. National broadcasts of MLB games appear on ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS. The MLB Network also carries many games, but it is only available with these subscription services:

  • PlayStation Vue: Core, Elite, Ultra
  • AT&T TV Now: Choice, Xtra, Ultimate
  • Sling TV: Requires Sports Extra upgrade
  • YouTube TV

You can also subscribe to MLB TV, Major League Baseball’s own subscription service. Thanks to the MLB’s own blackout rules, you can’t watch your local team through MLB TV. However, the subscription lets you watch out-of-market games live and every game on demand.

If all that top-tier baseball still isn’t enough for you, Minor League Baseball games are also available through CBSN and the MiLB’s own subscription service.

Basketball

Watch NBA League Pass
Source: NBA

The National Basketball Association has signed broadcast deals with ABC/ESPN and TNT. You can also catch games on NBA TV which is available with these subscription services:

  • PlayStation Vue: Core, Elite, Ultra
  • Sling TV: Sports Extra
  • AT&T TV Now: Xtra and Ultimate.
  • YouTube TV
  • fuboTV

The NBA has a streaming service of its own called NBA League Pass. Just like MLB TV, you can only watch live streams of games played outside your market area that aren’t nationally broadcast. The NBA has even added features that work with the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality platforms.

The NBA is developing a farm system similar to baseball’s minor leagues but a little more centralized. The NBA G-League’s games appear on ESPN+, ESPNU and NBA TV. Eleven Sports, which is available on fuboTV, also carries NBA-G games.

Football

Watch NFL Game Pass
Source: NFL

The National Football League is still tightly bound to the traditional broadcast and cable networks. Most of the games are broadcast on CBS, ESPN, Fox and ESPN. If you want to catch the Thursday Night Football game on the NFL Network, you’ll need to have one of these subscriptions:

  • PlayStation Vue: Core, Elite, Ultra
  • Sling TV: Sling Blue, Sports Extra
  • fuboTV

You will be able to watch preseason games live through the NFL’s subscription service NFL Game Pass. Once the season starts, though, games will only be available on demand. Industry rumors say that NFL Sunday Ticket, which is limited to DirecTV satellite subscribers, may expand to streaming providers. However, the earliest that can happen is the 2020 season.

Minor league football has had a rocky history. The latest attempt, the Alliance of American Football, kicked off its first season in 2019. Games are airing on CBS, CBSN, TNT, the NFL Network as well as B/R Live. More football will arrive in 2020 when wrestling executive Vince McMahon relaunches the XFL.

Golf

golf channel without cable
Source: Golf Channel

The final rounds of big tournaments get broadcast on NBC and its sports networks. The US Women’s Open, however, will air on Fox and FS1. The Golf Channel will be your best bet for watching the most PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events this year. It’s available on the following services:

  • PlayStation Vue: Core, Elite, Ultra
  • AT&T TV Now: Max, Xtra and Ultimate
  • YouTube TV
  • Hulu with Live TV
  • fuboTV

The PGA Tour has a subscription service that will let you watch even more golf. The catch is, you can’t subscribe to it directly. You can only get PGA Tour Live as an add-on subscription through NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime.

Hockey

Watch hockey
Source: NHL

To watch the most National Hockey League games possible, you would need to subscribe to NHL TV. National broadcasts of NHL games appear on NBC and NBCSN which most streaming services carry. Even more games appear on the NHL Network which is available on the following services:

  • PlayStation Vue: Core, Elite, Ultra
  • Sling TV: Sports Extra
  • AT&T TV Now: Xtra and Ultimate.
  • YouTube TV

You can subscribe to the official NHL TV streaming service to watch every game played in the regular season — at least those that aren’t blacked out.

If you’re a fan of the aspiring players in the American Hockey League, you can catch some of their games on the NHL Network. Your best bet, though, would be to subscribe to the league’s AHL TV subscription service.

MMA and Boxing

DAZN matchroom boxing
Source: DAZN

ESPN is determined to make its ESPN+ subscription service the go-to source for the biggest mixed martial arts and boxing events. The UFC signed a deal that gave ESPN exclusive rights to broadcast lesser fights and gave ESPN+ an exclusive for pay-per-view fights. ESPN+ also carries major bouts from the Professional Fighters League and Top Rank Boxing.

Although it doesn’t get as many high-profile fights, you can still watch boxing on Showtime. HBO doesn’t do boxing anymore.

DAZN’s service in the United States is dedicated exclusively to MMA and boxing. The subscription gives you access to boxing events organized by Matchroom USA, Golden Boy Promotions and World Boxing Super Series as well as MMA fights promoted by Bellator and Combate Americas.

Soccer

watch mls without cable fubotv
Source: fuboTV

Most of the Major League Soccer (MLS) matches are carried on regional sports networks which vary from team to team. Nationally-broadcast MLS matches air on Fox, FS1, Univision, ESPN as well as on the ESPN+ subscription service. Canadians can watch MLS matches on DAZN.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is in the middle of negotiations for the broadcast rights for the 2019 season. Last year, Lifetime and ESPNews broadcast weekly NWSL matches and Yahoo Sports streamed non-broadcast matches. That relationship came to an end in early 2019.

Many of the matches played by the US Women’s National Team get picked up by ESPN and Fox Sports.

As you’d expect, football leagues in other countries negotiate their own deals for broadcast and streaming rights. Your best bet is to subscribe to fuboTV since it carries Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Eleven Sports and beIN Sports as well as golTV and other international channels. ESPN is not a big player here, so its absence from fuboTV doesn’t really matter.

Another service to consider is B/R Live. It carries many matches from the UEFA Championship League, UEFA Europe League as well as many matches from Scottish, Swedish and Belgian league play.

Fox also offers a dedicated streaming service for soccer fans called Fox Soccer Match Pass. The service lets you stream live matches played by the US Women’s and Men’s national teams, Bundesliga clubs, FIFA tournaments and more.

Tennis

Watch the tennis channel without cable
Source: Tennis Channel

Tennis is a rarity on the traditional broadcast and cable channels. ESPN does have the rights to three of the four Grand Slam Tournaments: the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. If you want more, you will need a live TV streaming service that carries the Tennis Channel or a subscription to ATP Tennis TV. The Tennis Channel is available on these streaming services:

  • PlayStation Vue: Elite, Ultra
  • Sling TV: Sports Extra
  • AT&T TV Now: Choice, Xtra and Ultimate.
  • YouTube TV

The Tennis Channel also has a subscription service, Tennis Channel Plus. You can use the app to watch ten courts at Roland Garros, the fourth Grand Slam Tournament, as well as ATP World Tour and WTA Tour tournaments.

ATP Tennis TV is the live streaming subscription service of the ATP Tour. The service’s ad-free, high definition video streams let you watch more than 2,000 matches from 64 men’s tennis tournaments around the world.

 

Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.