Blog Post

Cord Cutters: How to Watch Sports Online

The biggest question we get from potential cord cutters — and even from those who have already cut the cord — is how to watch live sports without paying for cable. Well, this week we talk about all of the ways that sports fans can access live Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games online and even on Internet-connected TVs and other devices.

For many, live sports is one piece of programming that viewers are least likely to want to do without. Luckily for them, almost all the major sports leagues have been pretty aggressive in rolling out online access to their games. The MLB, NBA and NHL all have broadband services for viewing live and on-demand games, and all have moved to make those matches available across a wide range of connected devices.

Spring training games are right around the corner, and MLB is the poster child for making its games viewable online, with all matchups available on PCs, as well as Internet-connected TVs from Samsung and LG, Sony (s SNE) PlayStation 3 game consoles, Roku and Boxee Box set-top boxes, and the iPhone, iPad (s AAPL) and Android (s GOOG) mobile devices. Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL have initiated price cuts for their services now that they are halfway through their seasons.

Are you a big sports fan? If so, check out the video below, and let us know in the comments how you get your sports fix without cable.

Previous episodes of Cord Cutters:

Ep. 01: Cord Cutters: NewTeeVee’s First Web Series!

Ep. 02: Is the Xbox 360 a Good Cord-Cutting Device?

Ep. 03: Logitech Revue: Not Cutting It For Cord Cutters

Ep. 04: Wanna Try Cord Cutting? Buy A $12 Antenna

Ep. 05: Cord Cutters: NewTeeVee Live Edition, Cord-Cutting Activism

Ep. 06: Cord Cutters: Is The Boxee Box the Solution for You?

Ep. 07: Cord Cutters: The Gift Guide for Cable-Free Holidays

Ep. 08: Cord Cutters: Is Hulu Plus Enough to Replace Cable?

Ep. 09: Cord Cutters: Turn Your PC Into a Media Center

Ep. 10: Cord Cutters: Can You Entertain Your Kids Sans Cable?

Ep. 11: Cord Cutters Confessions: Why We Canceled Cable

Ep. 12: Cord Cutters: The WD TV Live Plus

Ep. 13: Cord Cutters: How to Optimize Your Netflix Streaming

Ep. 14: Cord Cutters: 3 Boxee Box Tips and Tricks

Ep. 15: Cord Cutters: The iFanboy Edition

Ep. 16: Cord Cutters: 3 Roku Tips & Tricks

Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)

19 Responses to “Cord Cutters: How to Watch Sports Online”

  1. Anish

    Thanks for the insightful information. I am on the verge of entering the world of cord-cutting. One big barrier is to access Formula 1, any suggestions on how to get live race feeds without cable (in US: Speed TV & Fox)?

  2. PlayOn has ScipTV which has alot of live sports streams for NBA, NHL, NASCAR, Sports Center and more. In addition, we add an HD Antenna so NFL games are in full 1080i quality. Sooner or later, it will all be available online.

  3. Formula 1 is the only reason we still have cable. I’m in the US and it runs on the Speed channel for all but 3 races which are on Fox. If I could get this live, then I’d be all set. Any suggestions?

  4. In addition to pjfan75’s comments, NHL games for local teams and games on both Versus and the NHL Network are also blacked out and cannot be watched online using NHL GameCenter Live.

    The really sore point here is that Versus and the NHL Network (ESPECIALLY the latter) are usually not available for consumers on basic cable/satellite packages. They’re available for an additional $5-$10 monthly fee, which I’m not compelled to pay when other (non-sports) channels that are included for that premium are unappealing.

  5. I’ll admit that the “sports factor” has been a major barrier to me cutting-the-cord. Do you mind creating a running-list of your ideas, links, etc that you suggest in the video?I’d love to see a compilation of the alternatives that are out there. Honestly, I think until the blackout restrictions and some of the major sports open up a bit, this will still be the major barrier. Keep up the coverage.

  6. As a cord cutting soccer fan, I get my fix on BoxeeBox through (no app but works fine in browser) and ESPN3.

    Between these two places I can watch 90% of the English Premier League games I want to check out.

    • The only sport I regularly watch is European soccer (mainly EPL and UEFA Champions League), and have thought about cutting the cord and going the and epsn3 route. The issue is the games are on during the US day, and I typically watch them later at night, therefore I love the DVR.

      With these two services, is it possible to access and view a game that completed earlier in the day, without seeing the scoreline?

  7. gonzo90017

    The blackouts also apply to games on NBA TV, ESPN, and TNT.
    And the games are also transmitted inside a 4:3 window!

    The biggest thing that sucks about this is that people with League Pass International (those outside of the US) get to watch all of the games in FULL SCREEN HD WITHOUT any blackouts.

    This goes to show that the NBA doesn’t really care about their fans. We pay full price, and this is what they give us.

    • Ryan Lawler

      Again, it’s not that the leagues don’t care about the fans. It’s that the deals they strike with the local sports networks are more lucrative than the incremental revenue they get from online viewers. And since local sports networks get a good portion of their revenue from local advertising, the deals are structured to protect that revenue.

  8. The problem with is that you can only watch out of market games. So if you happen to be a Phillies fan living in Philadelphia, you’re out of luck. However, if you happen to be a Mets fan living in Philadelphia (like me), then cutting the cord is easy… unfortunately this isn’t the case with most fans of MLB who live in the same tv market as the team they follow

    • Ryan Lawler

      We actually do talk about blackouts in the piece. Unfortunately, if you’re a local fan you’re going to be stuck watching only out-of-market games. And streaming blackouts on existed long before cord cutting was a ‘thing’ — they exist mainly to protect TV rights and local advertising from sports networks playing in-market games. The same blackout rules apply when a local market team is on ESPN — viewers can only watch the game on the local sports network, and not on the national ESPN feed.