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As cutting the cord has grown in popularity, many find streaming options for live TV to be lacking, especially when it comes to sports. While streaming live sports can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible. There are a few ways you can stream live sporting events, including free live sports streams.
Streaming live sports on a TV provider app
Most major TV providers offer an app for streaming live and On Demand programming on your computer, tablet or smartphone. These apps are typically free and are compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Popular TV providers with free live TV streaming apps include:
To stream live sports on your TV provider app, download the app from your device’s app store, then follow the instructions operating the app. For best results, and to avoid any game day frustrations, download and learn how to log in and navigate the app ahead of time. You will need your TV subscription account information to log in the first time.
Note that these apps are only intended for use on smart devices, not TV streaming devices. For example, if you wanted to stream CBS with the DIRECTV app, you could do it on an Apple iPad, but not through a Roku device.
Who it’s best for: Viewers who have a pay TV subscription, but will not be able to watch the game live at home or on a screen connected to their TV service.
Streaming live sports from the network on your web browser
This method of live sports streaming also requires a TV subscription, but you don’t have to use the provider’s exclusive app to stream. Most major sports channels — such as ESPN, Fox Sports and regional sports networks like Fox Sports South and New England Sports Network — allow streaming straight from their website.
To stream a sports network from your browser, go to the channel’s website. At the top of the page, find and click “Watch” or “Live TV.” Once you select the title you wish to view, the site will prompt you to enter your TV provider credentials. Enter your TV provider information to begin streaming the live TV title you’ve selected. Note that you must have the channel you want to stream in your TV package to be able to watch it online.
Who it’s best for: Viewers who have a pay TV subscription, but will not be able to watch the game live at home or using a TV provider app.
Streaming live sports with an OTT service
While some OTT streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video lack live channels and content, others allow for live TV streaming. AT&T TV Now, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV offer live TV and include local channels and major sports networks like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 with most packages.
Unlike streaming with a TV provider app, watching TV with these services is possible with streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick and select gaming consoles. You will need a subscription for service, but some may offer free trial periods.
To stream live sports with an OTT service, such as AT&T TV Now or Hulu + Live TV, sign up for a subscription or free trial period and download the app on whichever streaming devices you want to use. Follow the instructions to get started and navigate the app to find live TV options and channels that show live sporting events.
Who it’s best for: Cord cutters who still want live TV including sporting events.
Streaming live sports on free network sites and social media
If you don’t have a TV subscription or OTT service with live TV, you can still stream select live sporting events via websites and social media. While this won’t always be the best way to find and watch a specific sporting event or team, it still gives you access to lots of major national and international live sports.
Popular sports networks including ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC Sports offer free live streaming on select events from their website without needing a TV provider login. Available live events include a variety of sports such as football, baseball, basketball, racing and more on the professional and collegiate level. Keep in mind, however, that these sites do not always make every broadcast available for free streaming.
Facebook and Twitter are also great for streaming live sports. Both social media platforms have recently offered live streaming for NFL games, Premier League Soccer, NBA and WNBA games, MLB games, Olympic events and more. Forbes.com notes that Facebook often streams baseball games, soccer matches and even niche sporting events such as surfing and Crossfit tournaments. The niche sporting events Facebook offers are especially enticing because many may not be available on basic live TV channels.
Who it’s best for: Cord cutters who want to see some live sports or those who want to watch live sporting events not available from their TV provider.
Get an internet connection that can handle your sports streaming demands
If you plan on streaming live sports keep in mind that most streaming providers recommend an internet connection with speeds of at least 3 to 10 Mbps. You’ll also want to consider the number of people connected to your Wi-Fi network during the game as too many users at once may slow your connection and disrupt your stream.
Or if you’d prefer to watch live games on a cable or satellite TV service, shop plans in your area with our internet experts.
Originally published 01/15/19. Last updated 09/23/19.