How to Watch Sports Without Cable
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I love to watch sports. So much so that it kept us from cutting the cord for several years. Being contract-free for over four years, I can say that cable is not necessary if you’re a sports lover. If you want to know how to watch sports without cable, you have a variety of options to save over $50 per month.
My sport of choice is football. I love the NFL, as well as college football. I speak to many readers, and they feel similar. Don’t believe the myth you need cable to catch all the action. I’ve learned how to watch NFL games without cable and not miss a beat.
If you love sports and want to cut the cord on cable, it is possible. Here’s how to watch live sports without cable and save significant money.
Best Streaming Providers to Watch Live Sports Without Cable
The best way to watch sports without cable is through a streaming provider. Streaming providers act as a cable replacement, providing cable channels at a fraction of the price.
Streaming platforms offer access to the top channels you need to get sports without cable. Those channels are:
- ESPN 2
- ESPN 3
- ESPN U
- Fox Sports 1 (FS1)
- Fox Sports 2 (FS2)
The best part is that streaming providers have no contracts. You can subscribe to the best platform for your needs and drop it once your season or set of games are over.
There are various streaming providers, but a select few are best for your needs. Below are the best providers to watch live sports without cable.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu Live is our favorite provider to watch live sports without cable. We typically carry base Hulu, which costs $5.99 per month, but during football season we upgrade to Hulu Live for $64.99 per month.
Once the season is over, we downgrade to the basic service.
Hulu Live offers the following for that cost:
- 60+ channels
- 50 hours of cloud DVR
- The ability to watch simultaneously on two screens
Hulu Live offers all of the necessary sports channels listed, including locals, plus the Big Ten Network (BTN), CBS Sports Network (CBSN), ACC Network (ACCN), and SEC Network. It’s also the best option to watch March Madness without cable.
If you want to watch exclusive sports content, you can bundle Hulu with ESPN+. Read our ESPN+ app review to learn more about the platform.
Sling TV is a close second for the best way to watch sports without cable. The provider charges a low monthly rate of $25, but you will need to upgrade to the Orange + Blue plan of $40 to receive all of the necessary channels.
Sling TV offers the following for that cost:
- 50+ channels
- 50 hours of cloud DVR – but costs an additional $5 per month
- The ability to watch simultaneously on three screens, if you select Blue
One drawback to keep in mind with Sling TV is that they limit local channels to select markets. On the plus side, they offer the NFL Network.
Check out our guide on Sling TV packages to learn how the platform works.
FuboTV is the final top option to watch sports without cable. This streaming provider is more expensive, charging $54.99 per month. This does not include ESPN, unfortunately.
Here are the best options to watch ESPN without cable if that’s a concern for you.
Lack of ESPN aside, fuboTV is a great alternative for sports. The provider started strictly as a soccer platform and quickly expanded its offerings to a more well-rounded platform.
You receive the following for the monthly cost:
- 80+ channels, including locals
- 30 hours of cloud DVR
- The ability to watch simultaneously on two screens
If you want niche channels like NBA.TV, BTN, or the PAC-12 Network, fuboTV is an excellent choice. The provider also offers a bevy of specialty packages, focusing on niche sports like bicycling and other outdoor sports.
Check out our guide on the fuboTV channels list to see how the platform works.
Each of the above streaming providers offers a free 7-day trial for you to test the service out. Take advantage of that to find the best provider for you.
If the provider you choose does not carry local channels, that’s is easily remediable with a digital antenna. For a low, one-time cost, you can get local channels, plus maybe a handful of cable networks.
Here are the best digital antennas on Amazon. We have the Mohu Leaf and love it.
How to Watch Sports Without Cable
Want to know how to watch your favorite sport without a nasty cable contract? Below are a few of the top sports and how to watch them without cable.
Watch NFL Games without Cable
NFL games are undeniably the top sport of choice for millions of Americans. If you’re a fan of the NFL, you may think the NFL Sunday Ticket is the only way to catch all of the action.
That is not the case. I bought into that myth for several years but can now watch all the games I want. Hulu Live and Sling TV are your best options to watch football without cable, along with an antenna if you choose the latter.
If you don’t want a streaming provider and are fine with a bare-bones option, NFL Sunday Pass is a suitable alternative. The platform is $99 per year and allows you to watch any game you want.
The only catch is games are tape-delayed.
Check out our guide on how to watch NFL games without cable to learn more about how to catch all the pigskin action.
Watch College Football without Cable
Watching college football games works similar to NFL games. The only difference is needing access to conference networks for additional action.
Each of the above three providers carries different conference networks, so you must decide which fits your needs.
You can check out our guide on how to watch college football without cable to learn more about the available choices.
If you like various collegiate sports, you can use College Sports Live as a possibility. The platform costs $9.99 per month and provides live games for over 70 schools in 30 different sports.
Watch NBA Games without Cable
If you want to know how to watch NBA games without cable, you’re typically set with the following channels:
You can throw in NBA.TV for additional coverage. Both Sling TV and Hulu Live are good options for the above channels.
The big concern with basketball games is watching out-of-market games. NBA League Pass is a good solution and a standalone service. Pricing begins at $120 per season for one team, going up to $250 per season for all games, with no commercials.
Want to watch WNBA games? The available options aren’t as plentiful, but you can catch the action on ABC and ESPN. They also offer games on CBSN.
Watch Baseball without Cable
Want to know how to watch baseball without cable? You’re in luck as many games are available on ESPN, FS1, or NBCSN. This makes Hulu Live and Sling TV as the top choices to watch all the action.
If you’re addicted to the national past time, another option is MLB.TV. For $119 per season, you receive all games, plus other features like the ability to watch simultaneous games.
Watch NHL Games without Cable
Figuring out how to watch hockey games without cable is a little trickier than other sports, due to more Canadian teams. You can watch most American based teams on Fox or NBCSN, which you can receive on fuboTV or Sling Blue.
Similar to other professional sports, you can watch NHL games through a standalone service. NHL.TV airs all games, allowing you to watch up to four at once.
The platform costs $140 for the season and provides access to all regular-season games.
Watch Soccer without Cable
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and if you’re a fan, fuboTV is a must-have. Not only did the platform start solely to air soccer matches, but it also airs soccer from all over the world.
If you want to watch English Premier League (now known as Barclays Premier League) matches, Sling Blue is the top choice. MLS Live is a good option if you prefer that league.
The platform airs out of market games and costs $80 per season.
Although over, if you’re a Women’s World Cup fan, Fox carries all of those matches.
Watch WWE without Cable
You may not consider WWE as a sport, but countless want to know how to watch wrestling without cable. WWE Raw and Smackdown, their staple broadcasts air on the USA Network, which is one each of the aforementioned streaming providers.
What if you want to watch their Pay-Per-View action, plus original series and other content? WWE Network is the answer, and costs only $9.99 per month.
The platform offers a free 30-day trial to test the service.
Watch Golf without Cable
You’re in luck if you want to watch golf without cable. Most larger PGA Tour events are on CBS, so all you need is a digital antenna for that channel.
It’s also available via Hulu Live, as is ESPN for any additional events, plus the NBC Golf Channel. If you want to live stream the PGA Tour, that is available on their website.
Watch NASCAR without Cable
NASCAR has not arrived in the 21stCentury yet, and there is no streaming platform or the sport. Thankfully, most races are on Fox or NBC, so all you need is an antenna.
Watch UFC without Cable
UFC is the most well-known mixed martial arts (MMA) league in existence. Fox is the main option to watch UFC, so all you need is an antenna. If you want to watch bouts on FS1, any of the previously listed streaming providers will help.
There are other choices to watch UFC. The UFC Fight Pass is one option for preliminary bouts, but it only operates in countries where Fox does not have the rights to air bouts.
What to Know About Blackout Rules
Any legit sports fan knows about the dreaded blackout. A blackout is when a previously scheduled sporting event does not air in your market. This can be incredibly frustrating for anyone who wants to watch a game.
Blackouts vary and are based on your location. There are ways to get around this, but we’ve not tested them and unable to provide clear direction on the best course to take.
In certain cases, the standalone streaming option for a particular league is a solution, but there is no set standard.
What Devices Are Needed to Stream Live Sports?
The beauty of trying to watch live sports without cable is you don’t need much to make it possible. To watch sports on local channels, you need an antenna.
Some streaming providers, like Hulu Live, carry locals so an antenna may not be needed. To use any streaming provider, you need a smart TV to access their apps, or you need a TV with an HDMI input to use one of the popular devices to access various apps.
Some of those devices are:
Like a digital antenna, each of the above has a one-time cost and takes little work to connect.
How to Get Sports without Cable: Bottom Line
It’s an exciting time to be alive for the sports fan who wants to cut the cord. There are countless options to save money each month and watch the sport you love.
Take it from someone who held onto cable for too long because of sports. The monthly cost is not worth it. You can find a variety of ways to watch live sports without cable and pocket the savings.
How do you watch sports without cable? If you’ve not cut the cord, what would it take to get you to change your mind? What’s one sport you cannot miss?
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.
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