How to Watch ESPN Without Cable: 9 Great Options to Consider
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure to see how we make money.
I’m a huge sports fan. I love watching college football and NFL games so knowing how to watch ESPN without cable or satellite is vital. I even have a claim to fame that many don’t – the ESPN SportsCenter theme song was my wedding recessional. So, I understand why the ability to watch live sports keeps many people locked in to expensive cable contracts.
The great news is you don’t need a cable or satellite TV contract to watch your favorite teams. If you want to know how to watch live sports without cable, this post is for you.
How to Watch ESPN Without Cable
You don’t need an expensive cable contract to watch SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, or First Take. If you’ve been wondering, how to watch sports without cable, there are multiple ways to get ESPN without cable.
We’ll share the easiest ways to watch ESPN without cable (most also include how to watch Fox Sports 1 without cable).
Ways to Watch ESPN on TV Without Cable
Cable companies don’t want you to know that you don’t need cable to watch Monday Night Football (MNF) without cable. Here are a few of the best ways to watch live sports without cable.
1. Hulu Live
“Watching” a football emoji on your phone screen without any video isn’t the ideal way to follow your favorite team.
Thankfully, Hulu with Live TV is a great way to watch ESPN without cable. It’s an excellent way to watch the live sporting events you don’t want to miss.
Hulu Live comes with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN News, the ACC Network and the SEC Network. You receive those plus other great content from your favorite networks, for $54.99 per month.
When you compare that price to what you’re currently paying for cable, you’ll save nearly $70 per month. That alone is reason enough to cut the cord on your expensive cable contract.
Hulu Live ups the ante with compelling original content like the critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale series. You also receive access to live content on local networks and cable standbys like FX, Food Network, and TBS.
If you want to learn more about the content offerings as well as pros and cons of Hulu Live, check out our Hulu with Live TV review now.
Hulu Live works with just about any device on the market, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. The $54.99 per month price tag gives you 50 hours of cloud DVR storage so you can record games you have to miss.
Hulu Live isn’t just a great option for sports fans, it’s also an excellent choice for the whole family. If you want to watch HGTV without cable, Hulu Live is your go-to option.
The Hulu Live 7-day free trial lets you test drive the streaming service and see just how easy it is to watch ESPN without cable risk-free.
2. Sling TV
Sling TV is another excellent way to watch ESPN without cable. It’s one of the most well-known streaming options for people looking into how to watch live sports without cable.
Sling TV is a little different than other streaming services. It offers its channels in two base packages – Sling Orange for $25 per month and Sling Blue for $25 per month.
Each package comes with different sports channels. If you are looking for how to watch ESPN without cable, the Sling Orange package is best for you.
***Related: Want to watch March Madness but don’t have cable? March Madness is not on ESPN, but you do need cable channels to catch a lot of the action. Check out our guide on how to watch March Madness without cable to learn how to watch all the action!***
If you’re looking for how to watch ESPN3 without cable, Sling Orange is your answer. In addition to being your answer to how to watch SportsCenter without cable, Sling Orange gives you:
- Plus about 30 other channels
For $25 per month, Sling Orange gives you access to 6,200 live and original hours of programming across 65 different sports. This includes exclusive access to Monday Night Football, NBA games, College Basketball games, College Football games, and the College Football Playoffs.
For the same $25 per month, you get Sling Blue which DOES NOT include ESPN but does offer 13 channels of sports including:
- Fox Sports 1 (FS1)
- Fox Sports 2 (FS2)
- NFL Network
- NBC Sports (NBCSN)
Sling Blue also offers access to Fox Sports regional networks. If you want more live sports without cable, Sling TV offers a Sports Package that you can add on to your Orange or Blue subscription for an extra $10 per month.
That add on will get you NFL RedZone, NBA TV, NHL Network, the PAC 12 Network and more. Check out our guide on the Sling TV packages to see how you can further customize your sports content.
When it comes to cutting the cord on cable or satellite, Sling TV makes it easy. Learn more about the pros and cons and channel lineup of Sling TV in our Sling TV review.
You can likely stream Sling TV on the device you already own, as it works with smartphones, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Apple TV, and more. Sling Orange lets you stream on one device at a time. Sling Blue gives you the ability to stream on three devices at once.
If you have roommates or want all of the sports channels in both packages, you can purchase both Sling Orange + Blue for $40 per month. This gives you all the sports channels already mentioned plus the ability to stream content on up to four devices at once.
It is worth noting though that you can still only stream ESPN on one device at a time. However, that does make it easy for you to watch ESPN without cable on one device while someone else can watch HGTV without cable on another device.
All of this makes Sling TV one of the best ways to watch ESPN without cable or satellite. If you’re looking for a way to watch ESPN on TV without cable, Sling TV may be the best choice for you.
3. AT&T TV Now
AT&T TV Now (formerly known as DirecTV Now) is perhaps the industry-leading streaming, contract-free TV service. We’ve tested the DirecTV Now platform multiple times have enjoyed it for the most part.
We cover the platform, including how we found it to be an easy and enjoyable way to watch ESPN without cable in our AT&T TV Now review.
For $65 per month, you can watch ESPN without cable as well as Fox Sports 1. For other sports channels like the Big 10 Network, SEC Network and more, you will need to opt for the “Go Big” package, which costs $80 per month.
As with many of the other streaming options covered here, with AT&T TV Now, you only need an internet connection and a device, which could be a smartphone, tablet, laptop computer, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, or Amazon FireTV Stick to stream ESPN on TV without cable.
Other things to like about the AT&T TV Now platform include:
- Fast loading content
- Simple to use channel guide
- No contract
- Watch TV and search other content at the same time
If you’re concerned about getting local channels, AT&T TV Now includes them in some markets for free. If you’re not in one of those markets, you can easily get your local channels for free by purchasing a Mohu Leaf antenna, like we did.
One low, one time cost gets you free local channels for life.
4. YouTube TV
YouTube is working hard to promote its live TV streaming option. The nice thing for sports fans is that you can watch ESPN without cable on YouTube TV for $49.99 per month. The base package offers more than 70 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN News.
You can also watch NBC Sports, Fox Sports 1, and Fox Sports 2 as well as the MLB Network and NBA TV.
You can watch ESPN online through YouTube TV on an unlimited number of devices. It’s possible to stream YouTube TV via iOS, a few smart TVs, any web browser, Roku, Chromecast, AppleTV, and more.
If you’re interested in how to watch ESPN without cable through YouTube TV, they offer a free trial, which allows you to test drive the streaming service free for 7 days.
How to Stream ESPN Online
Aside from all the ways to watch ESPN without cable that we’ve already discussed, there is another way to consider how to watch ESPN online.
ESPN has gotten wise to the cord-cutting trend and is now offering ESPN+ – its standalone streaming service. For $4.99 per month (or $49.99 annually), ESPN+ offers you a way to watch live sports without cable.
While it doesn’t give you a way to watch ESPN without cable, it does offer additional sports content that isn’t available on the channel for a low monthly fee.
ESPN+ lets you watch:
- MLS live
- One NHL game a day
- One MLB game per day
- Original programming like 30 for 30
- Lots of on-demand sports events
In addition, you can watch live boxing (including PPV events), cricket, rugby, and tennis. If you don’t need access to all ESPN live sports content, ESPN+ might be a good option.
Read more about the platform in our ESPN+ review.
If you want to watch ESPN without cable, Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, Sling TV or one of the other options mentioned are a better bet. When you consider that cable subscribers pay $7.21 per month for ESPN and $9.06 for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the SEC Network), paying $20 – $40 per month for a streaming service makes more sense.
Another option for how to watch ESPN online is with a Watch ESPN subscription. However, Watch ESPN requires a cable subscription.
If you cut the cord that option won’t work for you. However, you’ll have nearly $70 per month that you’re not spending on your expensive cable contract so you can go see a game live and in person if you want!
Can You Watch ESPN on Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, or Roku?
The short answer is yes.
All of the streaming providers have apps for the major devices. This makes it simple to watch ESPN without cable very easily.
YouTube TV works on Roku, AppleTV, and Chromecast.
If you have a Nvidian Shield, you can watch ESPN without cable through Hulu Live, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.
*Related: Love college football? Check out our guide on how to watch college football without cable to catch all the action without a pricey contract.*
All of the streaming platforms mentioned here have apps that work with iOS and Android and most Mac and Windows-based computers.
If you are looking for a way to watch ESPN without cable, finding a compatible device shouldn’t be a problem.
Can You Watch ESPN Online Free?
Every sports fan wishes the answer to this question were yes. If it were possible to watch ESPN online for free, they wouldn’t be making as much money as they could. There’s no legitimate way to watch ESPN online for free.
Sites that do claim to let you watch ESPN online for free are full of spam, malware, or are illegal. The damage that could occur to your device isn’t worth it.
How to stream ESPN Without Cable – Wrap Up
In summary, if you are tired of paying for cable, but losing access to live sporting events is holding you back, you have options.
From Sling Orange at $25 per month to Hulu with Live TV for $54.99, there are excellent, contract-free ways to watch ESPN without cable. Since most platforms offer free trials, you could cancel your cable contract, and try them each out, one week at a time.
After a few months of trying the various services free, you can select the one that works for you. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting and you’ll feel good knowing you can watch SportsCenter without cable and other sports content without overpaying for it.
If you’re tired of paying too much for ESPN, cut the cord on your cable contract and put that extra money to better use.
What are your reservations about watching ESPN without cable? Are you worried that you won’t be able to watch your favorite team play? Have you already cut the cord and tried a few of these options? Which streaming platform do you like best?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.