How to Watch ESPN Without Cable: 10 Great Options to Consider
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I’m a sports fan; I love watching college football and NFL games so knowing how to watch ESPN without cable or satellite is high on my list. I even have a claim to fame that many sports fans 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 that you don’t need a cable or satellite TV plan to follow 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 check in on SportsCenter or catch the latest episodes of “Pardon the Interruption” or “First Take.” If you’ve been wondering, how to watch sports without cable, there are at least 10 different ways to get ESPN without cable.
We’ll share the best and easiest ways to watch ESPN without cable (many of which include how to watch Fox Sports 1 without cable).
Ways to Watch ESPN on TV Without Cable
The cable companies don’t want you to know that you don’t need an expensive cable contract or set top box to watch Monday Night Football (MNF) without cable. Here are some of the best ways to watch live sports without cable.
“Watching” a football emoji go back and forth 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 and an excellent way to watch the live sporting events you don’t want to miss.
A pioneer in the field of streaming TV content, Hulu Live comes with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN News, and the SEC Network, plus tons of other great content from your favorite networks, all for one contract-free price of $44.99 per month.
When you compare that price to what you’re currently paying for cable, you’ll see savings of nearly $70 per month. That alone is reason enough to cut the cord on your expensive cable contract.
But, Hulu Live ups the ante with compelling original content like the critically acclaimed “The Handmaid’s Tale” series as well as access to live content on all the major networks as well as cable standbys like FX (“Americans” anyone?), Food Network, TBS, and more.
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 and Amazon Fire TV Stick as well as Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, and more.
The $44.99 per month price tag slashes your cable contract by more than half and gives you 50 hours of cloud DVR storage so you can record those games you may have to miss while you’re on the clock or away from your TV.
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 completely risk-free.
Sling TV is another excellent way to watch ESPN without cable. It’s probably the second largest and most well-known streaming option for people looking into how to watch live sports without cable.
Sling TV is a little different than other streaming services in that 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 only $25 per month, Sling Orange gives you access to 6,200 live and original hours of programming across 65 different sports including 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)
- Fox Sports Regional Networks
- NFL Network
- NBC Sports (NBCSN)
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 your cable contract, Sling TV makes it pretty easy. Learn more about the pros and cons and channel lineup of Sling TV in our Sling TV review.
We mentioned that Sling TV had a shaky launch with lots of buffering issues, but with two million subscribers and counting, they’ve improved the viewing experience drastically.
You can likely stream Sling TV on the device you already own, as it works with smartphones, Amazon FireTV and 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 and get 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.
If you’re looking for more ways to watch ESPN without cable, PlayStation Vue is another option. PlayStation Vue includes ESPN in their Access Package, which costs $39.99 per month.
You also get ESPN2 with the Access Package. However, if you want to watch ESPN, ESPN News and the SEC Network without cable, you’ll need to upgrade to the $44.99 per month package.
At that price, you may want to try Hulu Live, which makes it possible for you to get ESPN without cable plus a host of other content including excellent original programming for only $39.99 per month.
One benefit of watching ESPN without cable through PlayStation Vue is that with it, you can watch ESPN online with the WatchESPN app.
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 only $40 per month. The base package offers more than 50 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, NBA TV and more.
You can watch ESPN online through YouTube TV on an unlimited number of devices and you can stream it 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.
DirecTV Now is perhaps the industry-leading streaming, contract-free TV service. We’ve tested the DirecTV Now platform multiple times and cover all the ins and outs of it, including how we found it to be an easy and enjoyable way to watch ESPN without cable in our DirecTV Now review.
For $50 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 DirecTV Now, you only need an Internet connection and a device, which could be a smartphone, tablet, laptop computer, PlayStation, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, or Amazon FireTV Stick to stream ESPN on TV without cable.
Other things to like about the DirecTV 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, DirecTV 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.
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 seems to have gotten wise to the cord-cutting trend sweeping the nation and is now offering ESPN+ – its standalone streaming service. For only $4.99 per month (or $49.99 annually), ESPN+ gives you a way to watch live sports without cable. ESPN+ does offer a free 7-day trial to try out the service to see if you like it.
While it doesn’t give you a way to watch ESPN without cable, it does offer plenty of additional sports content 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, cricket, rugby, tennis, and more. If you don’t need access to all ESPN live sports content, ESPN+ might be a good option.
If you want to watch ESPN without cable, Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, Sling TV or one of the other options mentioned here may be a better bet. Especially 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.
So, 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.
Hulu Live, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue all have apps for Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick, AppleTV, and Chromecast. If you have any of these streaming platforms, you will be able 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, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.
Finally, 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?
Nearly every sports fan alive wishes the answer to this question were yes. But, if it were possible to watch ESPN online for free, they wouldn’t be making as much money as they could, so of course 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 and worst of all, are illegal. The damage that could occur to your device just isn’t worth it.
As discussed already, many of the streaming options mentioned here including Hulu Live, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now, offer free trials. We’ve used these in a pinch in the past when we needed access for just a game or two that our favorite college football team was playing.
How to stream ESPN Without Cable – Wrap Up
In summary, if have finally grown tired of paying for your overpriced cable or satellite TV contract, 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 $44.99, there are plenty of excellent, contract-free ways to watch ESPN without cable. Since most platforms offer free trials, you could cancel your expensive cable contract today, 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 all the other sports content that matter to you 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.