Don’t miss a matchup: Catch all the sports with these streaming sites and services

Joe Supan
JS
Joe Supan
Oct 18, 2019

Updated 10/29: PlayStation Vue service will be discontinued starting on January 30, 2020. For more information as well as other streaming services to consider, please visit our announcement post.

It’s not a great time to be a cable company.

According to the latest figures from Leichtman Research Group, pay-TV providers lost 1.53 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2019 — the fourth quarter in a row that saw a new record number of losses.

The one thing that’s keeping customers attached to their TV bills? Sports.

In the era of streaming services, sports are one of the only types of TV that still must be viewed live. And for most people, that’s always meant paying for cable.

Not anymore. There are now six major live TV streaming services that broadcast live sports. And in many cases, you’ll get more games than you would through a traditional cable or satellite provider.

You also have a little more flexibility in what you pay for. Only care about college sports and nothing else? Hulu + Live TV has almost every one of the 17 channels that air college games in the U.S. for $45/mo.

The table below shows how each service stacks up for America’s most popular sports. Each score was determined by the number of channels you’ll get that air national and local games from each sport. And the more games a channel carries, the more weight we gave it. (In the NFL, for example, FOX is more valuable than the NFL Network.)

AT&T NOW ($50/mo.) Our reviewfuboTV ($55/mo.) Our reviewHulu + Live TV ($45/mo.) Our reviewPlayStation Vue ($55/mo.) Our reviewSling TV ($40/mo.) Our reviewYouTube TV ($50/mo.) Our review
NFL9.57.69.5105.39.5
MLB7.15.78.610510
NBA66810510
NHL6.78.38.3105.88.3
College football6.159.49.42.88.9
College basketball5.66.19.59.53.98.9
Soccer46.55104.55
Overall score7.76.69.09.94.69.3

Best for NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL: PlayStation Vue

LeagueWhat it hasWhat it’s missing
NFLESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS, NFL Network
MLBESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, TBS, MLB Network
NBAABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
NHLNBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBC, NHL Network
NCAA FootballESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox, ABC, CBS, Big Ten Network, SEC NetworkACC Network, Pac-12 Network
  • Our review
  • Recommended plan: Core ($55/mo.)
  • Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation 3 and 4, Android TVs
  • Simultaneous streams: Five
  • Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (deletes after 28 days)

If you want to catch absolutely every game from every sport, PlayStation Vue’s Core plan has an almost absurdly comprehensive lineup of sports channels. You’ll get every channel that plays live sports from the four major American sports leagues — the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. This is the only live TV streaming service that can boast this.

In addition, it also has the broadest collection of channels that play college sports, including conference-specific networks from the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. The only one it’s missing is the Pac-12 Network; if that’s your conference of choice, only Sling’s sports add-on ($10 extra per month) and fuboTV offer it.

But that’s just the national games. PlayStation Vue comes through for your local teams, too. These MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS games are played on regional sports networks (RSNs), and PlayStation Vue has as good of coverage as any streaming service.

You’ll have to go up to the $55/mo. Core plan to get them, but it includes every Fox Sports and NBC Sports affiliate, plus independently run stations like SNY and YES in New York. It is missing a handful of RSNs in L.A. and Boston (more on that below), but most people will find their local teams covered.

The only fans for whom PlayStation Vue might not be the best choice? International football diehards. In the U.S., the Premier League airs some matches on NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and USA — all of which PlayStation Vue carries.

But if you really want to follow football globally, you’ll need beIN Sports, which covers most of the major leagues and tournaments around the world, including La Liga, Ligue 1, Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

PlayStation Vue carries beIN Sports, but only one of its channels. FuboTV, on the other hand, carries eight of them. We’re picking nits here, but it’s the one sport that PlayStation Vue isn’t the absolute best. (Caveat: fuboTV doesn’t carry ABC or ESPN, so you’ll miss out on a lot of American soccer matches.)

A cheaper option: Hulu + Live TV

LeagueWhat it hasWhat it’s missing
NFLESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS,NFL Network
MLBESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, TBSMLB Network
NBAABC, ESPN, TNTNBA TV
NHLNBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBCNHL Network
NCAA sportsESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox, ABC, CBS, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC NetworkPac-12 Network
  • Our review
  • Recommended plan: Hulu + Live TV
  • Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox One and 360, Nintendo Switch, Samsung smart TVs, LG smart TVs, Android TVs
  • Simultaneous streams: Two
  • Cloud DVR storage: 50 hours

If you don’t need to catch absolutely every game from every sport, Hulu + Live TV is a nice option for $10 less per month than PlayStation Vue’s Core plan. What you’ll sacrifice is the league networks from the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

But these are generally reserved for diehards. Even the NFL Network, which respondents in a recent survey listed as their 36th most desired channel, only carries five exclusive Thursday Night Football games per year. The rest are simulcast on FOX and Prime Video.

Hulu + Live TV has a robust collection of channels devoted to college sports, too, including the ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, ESPNU and ESPN College Extra. In fact, the only major college sports channel it’s missing is the Pac-12 Network.

You’ll likely be covered with your local teams, as well. Like PlayStation Vue, Hulu carries every affiliate station from FOX Sports and NBC Sports, which covers about 75% of local MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS teams. The major markets it’s missing are New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

New YorkLos AngelesBoston
Hulu covers:New York Yankees New York Mets Brooklyn NetsAnaheim Ducks L.A. Angels L.A. Clippers L.A. KingsBoston Celtics
Hulu is missing:New York Knicks New York Rangers New York Islanders New Jersey DevilsL.A. Lakers L.A. DodgersBoston Red Sox Boston Bruins

We’d still recommend running your ZIP code through Hulu’s channel lookup tool, but chances are good that your local teams will be covered.

Best streaming service for international football: fuboTV

LeagueWhat fuboTV hasWhat fuboTV’s missing
NFLFox, NBC, CBS, NFL NetworkESPN
MLBFox, FS1, TBSESPN, ESPN2, MLB Network
NBATNT, NBA TVABC, ESPN
NHLNBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBCNHL Network
NCAA sportsFox, CBS, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 NetworkABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network
  • Our review
  • Recommended plan: Standard
  • Compatible devices: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Samsung smart TVs, Android TVs
  • Simultaneous streams: Two
  • Cloud DVR storage: 50 hours

FuboTV calls itself the “world’s only sports-focused live TV streaming service,” but that’s simply not true. In fact, it’s one of the worst live TV streaming services for American sports fans. The only service it beats out in this regard is Sling TV, which is also $15/mo. cheaper.

But it does excel in one area: international football. Its name is literally a sped-up twist on the word, and it’s designed specifically for American fans to get their international soccer fix.

It includes every channel that airs Premier League matches in the U.S. — NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and USA — plus eight different versions of beIN Sports. These channels cover every other major football league, including La Liga, Ligue 1, Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

That said, if you’re a fan of American soccer, fuboTV will disappoint. It doesn’t have ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, so you’ll miss most nationally televised MLS games, including the playoffs.

As for the rest of American sports, it’s easier to list the channels fuboTV does have than the ones it’s missing. It does have strong coverage of RSNs, but for the most part, American sports fans will be disappointed.

Other ways to stream live sports

Locast

Price: Free
Sports covered: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA sports

The most important channels for sports fans are the locals: ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. They’re the ones that cover almost all of the major sporting events of the year, including the Super Bowl, World Series and the NBA Finals, plus most NFL regular season and playoff games.

Locast.org is a non-profit, free live TV streaming service that only carries these local channels. Think of it like a TV antenna through the internet. Unfortunately, Locast is currently only available in 13 U.S. cities, but that list is growing every month. If it’s in your area, it’s worth taking advantage of.

ESPN+

Price: $5/mo.
Sports covered: MLB, NHL, MLS, UFC, boxing, golf, tennis, cricket, rugby, volleyball

Despite what the name implies, ESPN+ is not a streaming version of ESPN. Instead, the service supplements the content on ESPN with additional games, archived ESPN content and original documentaries. But you won’t get the marquee live sporting events like Monday Night Football and the College Football Playoff National Championship that ESPN is known for.

What it does have is a boatload of extra NHL and MLB, combat sports like boxing and UFC, cricket, rugby, out-of-market MLS matches, golf and tennis. Keep in mind, the biggest events will still air elsewhere, but if you’re a diehard of one of these sports, ESPN+ will probably have plenty on the schedule to interest you.

DAZN

Price: $20/mo. or $100/year ($8.33/mo.); plus pay-per-view events
Sports covered: Boxing, MMA, Serie A football, rugby

A relative newcomer to the sports streaming world, DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) is a London-based service that launched in the U.S. in 2018. Because the most popular American sports all have exclusive rights deals with established TV networks, DAZN is mostly limited to more niche sports in the U.S.

DAZN is best known for its boxing coverage. While you typically have to pay a hefty pay-per-view fee to get marquee fights, DAZN includes many of them in its monthly subscription fee. It has a handful of other sports in its arsenal — most notably mixed martial arts and Serie A European football — but DAZN is primarily a boxing streaming service right now.

Fox Sports app

Price: Included with TV subscription
Sports covered: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS

Another way to stream live sports is through various standalone network apps. Fox has one of the best. It’s been the first network to experiment with streaming sports in 4K, broadcasting Thursday Night Football, the World Cup and regular MLB and college sports games in 4K.

You can’t subscribe to Fox Sports on its own; you’ll need a participating TV provider to access it. (The good news is just about every TV provider participates, including every live TV streaming service but Sling.)

Amazon Prime Video

Price: $9/mo.
Sports covered: NFL

Amazon is slowly dipping its toes into the sports world with its Prime Video streaming service. Right now, the only live sports you can watch on it are 11 Thursday Night Football games. It also streams Premier League matches in the U.K., but for now, Prime Video is limited to a handful of football games in the U.S.

CBS All Access

Price: $6/mo.
Sports covered: NFL, college sports

We’ll be frank: CBS All Access is not a great deal, particularly if you’re subscribing to watch sports. You’ll get at least one NFL game every week and a smattering of college sports. Of the four major networks, CBS is the one that’s least invested in live sports. Besides, you can get it for free through Locast or a TV antenna, so it’s not worth the monthly fee just for that handful of games.

Sports streaming FAQs

Can I stream sports in 4K?

Right now, streaming sports in 4K is relatively limited. A handful of satellite, cable and streaming providers air some live games in 4K, but it’s still more of a novelty than the norm. So far, FOX has been leading the charge in 4K sports, airing Thursday Night Football, the World Cup and select MLB and college sports games in 4K HDR. You can find these games through a participating TV provider or through the FOX Sports and FOX apps.

SportsHDR supportDolby Atmos audio
DIRECTVNFL NCAA footballHLG
DISH NetworkOlympics FIFAHLG
OptimumNFL MLB NCAA football
XFINITYNFL NCAA football Premier League
fuboTVNFL MLB NCAA footballHDR10
FOX appsNFL MLB NCAA footballHLG

For more information on finding something to watch on your 4K TV, sports or otherwise, check out our guide to 4K content.

Can I stream out-of-market games through a live TV streaming service?

With the exception of AT&T TV NOW and Sling TV, every major streaming service allows you to stream the RSNs in your home ZIP code while you’re traveling. Unfortunately, this doesn’t carry over to the local networks; you’ll pick up the locals of whichever area you’re in.

As for streaming out-of-market games from your home area, you’ll have to add on league packages like NFL SUNDAY TICKET, MLB Extra Innings and NBA League Pass.

What internet speed do I need to stream live sports?

As a rule, we recommend at least 10 Mbps of download speeds for streaming live sports. That said, you’ll need higher speeds if more than one device is using your internet connection at a time. Not sure what kind of speed you’re getting? Use our speed test below to evaluate your current connection.

The bottom line

Live sports are the only thing keeping a lot of people tethered to their cable bill. (If you don’t care about sports, you probably shouldn’t be paying for cable.) Fortunately, there are now a number of streaming services that offer all the same sports channels as cable — and oftentimes many more.

You’ll still pay a premium for these services — most start around $50/mo. — but you’ll likely be a lot happier with your experience. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, streaming services as an industry received a solid 76 score, while TV providers ranked dead last with 62.

To stay up-to-date about your options for streaming live sports, check back on our Resource Center for the latest news or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

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