While the depths of winter make it tougher to get out and play sports, no season is more conducive to curling up on the couch and watching others duke it out for your entertainment. The NBA and NHL are chugging along, with all-star games giving way to the thrilling playoff hunt. MLS is kicking off its annual slate with a new streaming home at Apple, while tennis is now officially in Open championship season with a mix of veteran stars and fresh faces looking to make their marks. Then there’s the pinnacle of televised sports, the Super Bowl, pitting the Eagles against the Chiefs and brands against brands in football and commercial supremacy, respectively.
The downside is that, for a cable subscriber, just watching those events costs you a slice of the hundred or hundreds you cough up every month to your provider. Or maybe you’ll miss out on watching them entirely because you cut the cord and kept only Netflix and HBO Max, giving up the thrills of athletic competition in favor of those found in Glass Onion and The Last of Us.
Fortunately, there’s a happy medium: signing up for a streaming service that gives you access to the live action. There are myriad options available, and, while none will give you every channel your heart could desire, there are many that will help you save a few bucks while making sure you don’t miss out on most sports, from the mainstream to the niche. Here, we present the best options and the many features they offer to help you decide where to shell out so you don’t miss your favorite game, match, fight, race, or event, provided you have an internet connection.
The gist of Sling is that it offers up some of the broadcast and a lot of the cable channels at a much lower price than what you’d get from, say, Xfinity or Spectrum. There are two basic packages, Orange and Blue, that have different channel lineups. If you’re an NBA fan, Sling says you’ll want to go with Orange, as that includes three ESPNs and TNT, while Blue is better for college hoops with its inclusion of TBS and truTV. You can subscribe to both for $50 a month.
There’s a major downside to Sling in that Blue only carries NBC and Fox, the latter of which is the broadcast home of the Super Bowl. You’ll get that major event, but neither of Sling’s offerings include ABC or CBS, which airs a lot of the big NCAA basketball action, including the title game.
Leagues available: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, Premier League, Ligue 1, Liga MX, golf, tennis, college football and basketball, and more, depending on the plan or add-ons you opt into.
Cost: Starting at $40 per month, with multiple add-on options.
Free trial? Not anymore. The current promo is for half off your first month, and you can cancel at any time.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu’s live-TV option is a lot like Sling, except it has 65 channels — 14 dedicated solely to sports — plus its streaming library and a bundle that includes Disney+ and ESPN+. Here, you get local broadcast channels, including FOX for the Super Bowl, the ESPNs, FS1 and 2, CBS Sports, TNT, NFL Network, the Golf Channel, and, for watching college hoops, TBS and truTV, among many more. Depending on where you live, you might get a regional sports channel — for example, if you live in New York, you’ll have SNY, home of the Mets. There’s the option of adding NFL RedZone, the Outdoor and Sportsman channels, and TVG for horse racing. New Yorkers won’t find NFL Network, MLB Network, or NBA TV, though.
Leagues available: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, EPL, MLS, NASCAR, WWE, and UFC; major tournaments in the WNBA, golf, tennis, and more, per Hulu.
Cost: $70 per month ($83 for no ads when watching its on-demand library).
Free trial? Nope. They stopped offering it in December 2021, the jerks.
You can get ESPN+ as a stand-alone, but keep in mind that it’s not the same as watching ESPN the channel. Its live sports offerings are somewhat limited — more a welcome supplement or a budget-conscious add-on if you’re, say, a hockey die-hard, than a full-fledged live streaming service. Still, for the price it punches its weight, carrying several popular leagues for soccer, hockey, tennis, golf, cricket, lacrosse, and plenty of college sports. It has ESPN’s original documentaries, including all of the 30 for 30 series.
Leagues available: NHL (and several other hockey leagues), 180-plus MLB games, college football and basketball, international soccer leagues like Bundesliga and La Liga, lacrosse, several cricket leagues, plenty of combat sports, and more, per ESPN+.
Cost: It’s now $10 per month — after a $3 increase over the summer.
Free trial? The stand-alone ESPN+ doesn’t have a free trial.
With the exception of the NFL Network and some NBC sports channels, DirecTV has pretty much everything you can want for sports. The basic $70 package has ESPN and some other sports options, but you’ll want to go for the $85 Choice service to get college, regional, and MLB and NBA channels. For another $10, you get an added six sports channels, including CBS, NHL, Golf, and Sportsman. It allows you to simultaneously stream its content on up to 20 devices, which you might consider necessary if you own a bar, have a huge family, or live in a frat house.
Leagues available: NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, MLS, La Liga, Europa League, Champions League, golf, college sports, plus a wide swathe of regional sports and that you might otherwise need cable to get. Consult the full lineup.
Cost: Starting at $75 per month.
Free trial? Five days.
With the basic YouTube TV subscription, you’re covered for the big networks for the most popular sports, plus the broadcast channels for big national games like the Super Bowl. A trio of ESPNs, FS1 and 2, CBS, and NBC Sports, plus the proprietary channels of MLB, NBA, NFL, Tennis, and Golf channels, and college networks like the SEC and Big Ten. If you’re looking to record events for next-day viewing or posterity, YouTube’s DVR is unmatched among streamers — the storage space is unlimited, with the caveat that you can only keep it for a max of nine months. Still, that’s enough to record your favorite MLB team’s entire 162-game season, plus playoffs, if you desire.
The big news with YouTube is that it’s also the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket, which shows out-of-market games. The pricing, options, and other details have yet to be announced, though, so we’ll see how good of a deal it is compared to its DirecTV and NFL+ predecessors.
Leagues available: NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, WNBA, NCAA, Premier League, FIFA World Cup, Liga MX, golf, tennis, and more, per YouTube TV’s full directory.
Cost: $65 per month.
Free trial? Yes, but lengths can vary. Recently, it was ten days, but there have been times when it has been 7, 14, and 21 days. (Consult YouTube’s explainer on this.)
Fubo basically has all the main broadcast and cable options, except for TNT, TBS, and truTV (sorry to March Madness fans), and, unless you sign up for League Pass for $15 a month, out-of-market NBA games. But other than that, you can play around with the packages and add-ons to figure out which configuration is right for you. For example, there’s the $11 per month add-on, billed quarterly, that’s all about international sports, specifically soccer, with ESPN and Fox’s Deportes channels, plus Real Madrid’s proprietary channel. There’s something for everyone here, except, of course, those who crave the analysis from Shaq and Barkley on TNT.
Leagues available: NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college football and basketball, WWE, golf, NASCAR, MLS, Premier League, Brasileirão Serie A, Liga MX, and a lot more.
Cost: $75 per month.
Free trial? Seven days.
NBC’s streaming service has a lot of sports, but outside of Premier League soccer and the Olympics, it’s in somewhat of a piecemeal fashion. During football season, you’ll get the Sunday night games plus the Football Night in America pregame show, and, returning after last season’s debut, Peacock will air Sunday morning baseball, with a select slate of contests starting at 11:30 a.m. and noon ET. So it’s an affordable option if you’re in the market for specific sports — or if you just want to pay $5 for a single month to catch the Olympics next time around.
Leagues available: The Olympics (in full), NFL (including the Super Bowl), MLB (on Sundays), WWE, IndyCar racing, Premier League, rugby, cycling, and more.
Cost: $5 per month or $50 a year.
Free trial? None.
Paramount+’s sports offerings are similar to Peacock’s in that they’re limited but can be the right fit depending on your tastes. For the basic, ad-supported $5 plan, you’ll be able to watch the CBS NFL games plus English-language coverage of all the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League matches. Then there’s the $10 Premium tier, which adds in NCAA basketball (with the entire tournament available), the Masters and other PGA events, SEC on CBS games, and Combate Global MMA. If you’re only signing up for this service to watch the college-basketball tournament, you can always go for the seven-day free trial and cancel your Premium subscription right after the winner is crowned in early April.
Leagues available: Limited NFL, college basketball, UEFA, PGA, and some MMA.
Cost: Starting at $5 per month or $50 per year for the basic version, or $10 a month or $100 a year for Premium.
Free trial? Thirty days.
Apple’s foray into both live programming and the sports world began with a deal with the MLB to exclusively broadcast two games every Friday night. That partnership will run for six more seasons and, as was recently announced, Apple will add another sport to its offerings: Major League Soccer. But, contrary to earlier reports, MLS Season Pass will only be offered at a slight discount to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a handful of games available at no extra cost, so it’s not the completely free expansion of content fans would’ve preferred. (Hop to the league-specific services section below for more on that stand-alone offering.)
Leagues available: MLB, for now, and MLS soon.
Cost: $5 per month.
Free trial? Seven days.
Amazon Prime Video
You’re not going to sign up for Prime for the sports coverage, but if you’re looking for some games to go along with your Rings of Power and next-day delivery of gardening gloves, the streamer has a few offerings: Thursday-night NFL and select WNBA games, plus some Yankees tilts if you live in the New York region. Otherwise, you can always just add in a premium subscription, like NBA League Pass for $100 a season.
Leagues available: Limited NFL, WNBA, and baseball offerings, plus add-on options, including the NBA (League Pass), boxing (through Showtime), and MLB (through MLB.tv).
Cost: $15 per month.
Free trial? Seven days.
For American subscribers, DAZN caters mostly to fight fans, with plenty of exclusive live and on-demand boxing and MMA, excluding UFC. On top of that, you’ll get documentaries, soccer, snooker, and darts.
Leagues available: Women’s UEFA soccer, MMA, boxing (including an archive), Masters snooker, and Premier League darts.
Cost: $20 per month or $150 per year.
Free trial? None.
If you’re looking to watch eSports, certain traditional sporting events, or just randos doing whatever they feel like, you can just head to Twitch without signing up. The streamer doesn’t have regularly scheduled games and bouts but does have deals in place with top leagues and fighting promotions to broadcast select events throughout the year, so it can be a fun place to watch and chat along, but it’s not a place to go if you’re looking for consistency in your viewing. The paid subscriptions are more for supporting certain channels and come with varying perks, including unique emoticons, ad-free viewing, exclusive streams, and subscriber-only chat functions.
Cost: Free to watch, subscriptions start at $5 per month.
Three of the top four major sports leagues in the U.S. — the MLB, NFL, and NBA — each have their own subscription service for out-of-market games, making those ideal for folks who live far away from their team of choice. (The NHL’s dedicated service, NHL.tv, was rolled up under ESPN+ in 2021.)
The biggest development for 2023 is that the NFL’s Sunday Ticket is going to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime. Details are scarce as of now, with no information on pricing, plans, or unique content available, so it remains to be seen how well this new iteration will compare to its DirecTV and NFL+ predecessors. Given YouTube’s ease of use, we certainly expect it to avoid the technical glitches that DirecTV customers have experienced in the past — but, of course, the cost will be the determining factor for most fans here.
MLS Season Pass, a service from Apple dedicated solely to the American soccer league, is the other big news in the streaming sports world. Featuring every game plus team content, documentaries, classic games, and more, fans from around the globe can subscribe for $15 a month or $99 a year. Though it was initially thought that Apple TV+ subscribers would get this at no extra charge, it turns out that these customers can only stream the package at a discount: $13 a month or $79 a year.
NBA League Pass gives you access to every game with the exception of regional blackouts and national broadcasts on channels like ESPN and TNT. (Blacked-out games are available everywhere for rewatching a few hours after they conclude — if you’re an avid fan.) You can pick a single team’s broadcast for $90 per season or the whole league for $100 on one device or $130 for simultaneous streaming on two devices. The subscription includes access to NBA TV, classic games, and original programming.
MLB.tv, meanwhile, is a great option for most people looking to watch out-of-market games. We say “most people” here because there are some truly baffling blackout restrictions affecting people in areas where they can’t access the regional sports networks that show certain teams’ games. For those that can access the MLB.tv games of their choice, they’ll have the option of choosing between the home and away television and radio broadcasts — with Spanish-language broadcasts sometimes available. You can subscribe for a single team’s broadcasts at a discount, and the MLB usually offers discounted plans as the season progresses, so you can wait to see if your club of choice is actually worth a damn.
Cost: Varies widely by sport, plan, and time of year. MLB.tv and NBA League Pass start at $140 and $100 for their full-season base packages, though they usually decrease in price at various points in the season when there are fewer games left. Both also offer single-team subscriptions for $120 and $90, respectively, if you only want to follow one squad for the season. MLS, as mentioned above, will be $15 a month and $99 annually, or $13 and $79 for Apple TV+ subscribers. YouTube has yet to announce the price of Sunday Ticket.
• MLB.tv: Seven days.
• NFL Sunday Ticket: TBA.
• NBA League Pass: Seven days.
• MLS Season Pass: None announced.
Buy an Antenna
Yes, you can still get television over the airwaves, literally. Even some of the cheapest digital antennas let you get the major broadcast networks that host sports — ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox — without any subscription, provided you don’t live in a completely remote location. Believe it or not, there are even some rabbit-eared versions you can buy on the cheap to get HD viewing of whatever major events, like the World Series, Super Bowl, and NCAA tourney, are on.
Cost: Antennas Direct’s ClearStream Eclipse TV model is great and goes for $40, but cheaper models will also get the job done.
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