Limerick vs Waterford Live Stream GAA Football 2021 Live sports coverage is a huge draw for cable subscribers, but you can get the same content, if not more, from a dedicated streaming service. Although some on-demand video streaming services include occasional sports commentary shows, the best options for sports fanatics are the cable-replacement services that offer game streams from local, national, and international networks.
What Channels Do You Need to Watch Sports?
The first thing to consider when choosing a sports streaming service is which one has the channels you need to watch the sports you care about. For instance, if you want to watch the Olympics, you need to subscribe to a service that carries CNBC, Golf Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. Coverage of the Tokyo Olympics began on July 20 and runs through August 8.
NFL fans still have the easiest job. All NFL games air on local broadcast affiliates (CBS, FOX, or NBC), ESPN, or Prime Video, which means you don’t have to deal with regional sports networks (RSNs) to watch every game available to you. However, the games that air on your local broadcast affiliates will almost always feature local teams; if you are a fan of an out-of-market team, the NFL’s Game Pass and DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket are your best options. Other sports programming such as PGA Tour events (CBS, Golf Channel, or NBC) and NASCAR races (FOX, FS1, NBC, or NBC Sports Network) also air on national channels.
Some MLB, NBA, and NHL games air on national channels, too; for example, you can watch NBA games on ABC, TNT, or ESPN. That said, many of the games from these leagues air on RSNs owned by Sinclair (Bally Sports, previously known as FOX Sports), Comcast (NBC Sports), or AT&T (SportsNet). Currently, AT&T TV is the only service we’ve reviewed that includes RSNs from each of these owners, though fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV all offer NBC Sports RSNs. Which RSNs you need to watch sports in your market depends on your location. Check out each RSN’s listing page to see which teams they cover.
Baseball, basketball, and hockey fans should respectively check out our roundups of the best MLB streaming services, the best NBA streaming services, and the best NHL streaming services for all the details on streaming these sports without cable.
League-Specific and International Sports
Many individual sports leagues offer dedicated streaming services. NBA League Pass, NFL Game Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket, NHL.TV, and MLB.TV are the best-known examples. If you only care about watching a specific team or sport, you don’t need to pay for an entire cable replacement service. Many of these services restrict your viewing of games until after they air in their entirety on regular channels or to out-of-market games, however, so most aren’t ideal for sports fans who want to watch their local team’s drama unfold live.
Many of the services we reviewed offer major sports channels for international markets, such as BEIN, ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, and Univision Deportes, but some require you to subscribe to extra packages for more regional and international sports content.
Dazn, on the other hand, is better for users in international markets (such as Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Italy) who want to watch mainstream US sports. However, for US subscribers, it offers a mix of Boxing, MMA, and MLB content.
Live Sports vs. Sports Content
Presumably, most sports fans want to watch both live sports and sports-related programs. However, we restricted this roundup to those services that regularly stream live sports events. After all, there’s no point in cutting the cord if you can’t watch your favorite teams live. Sports commentary and shows about sports certainly add value, but they don’t alone qualify a service as a sports streaming service.
For those reasons, HBO Max does not make the list, despite its historical association with boxing and current high-quality sports shows, such as Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Hard Knocks, and Ballers. That could change, however, as the service may stream live NHL games as soon as next year. Starz also does not qualify, as it requires you to pay extra to watch its live streaming MMA content. Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, streams Thursday Night Football games during the regular season and select MLB games in the New York region, so it makes the cut.
Just as with cable broadcasts, streaming services are subject to coverage blackouts, so it’s a good idea to find a service with both RSNs and local broadcast affiliates, in case one outbids the other for broadcast rights.
More Than Sports
While the focus of this roundup is on sports content, these services do not exist in a bubble. Monthly subscription costs can add up, and there’s a good chance that not everyone in your household wants to watch sports exclusively. Many of these options cost upwards of $60 per month, depending on the package you choose, while add-ons can easily push that monthly price even higher.
Therefore, you should consider whether the service offers value for anyone else in your household. Most of the best sports streaming services are also some of the best for general audiences, with good lineups of news and entertainment programming.
That said, some video streaming services, such as ESPN+ and Dazn, primarily focus on sports content. Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, and Peacock, which are primarily on-demand services, offer large libraries of shows and movies to stream in addition to their live sports content. Hulu + Live TV also gives users access to a vast library of TV series and films.
Streaming Extras and Limitations
Sometimes sports coverage, and particularly international sports coverage, doesn’t air at a convenient time. If you can’t watch the game for whatever reason, finding a service with good DVR functionality is worthwhile. Many video streaming services offer a specified number of hours you can record (some offer unlimited recording), which you can keep in storage for a set amount of time or until you stop paying for your subscription. However, no service we reviewed currently allows you to take those recordings offline, as some on-demand video streaming services allow.
What if two programs are airing at the same time and neither person wants to watch a recorded version later? If you make sure that the video streaming service you pick supports simultaneous streaming, then this won’t be a problem. Most services in the category support at least two simultaneous streams, but many services offer add-ons that increase that limit for an extra monthly fee.
One disadvantage of streaming services is that the picture quality may not always be as consistent as that of cable. The upper streaming resolution is dependent on the broadcast itself, so you may occasionally find games or channels that are limited to 720p. To get smooth 1080p streaming, you also need to make sure that your internet connection reaches a service’s minimum bandwidth requirement. Hulu + Live TV, Paramount+, and YouTube TV are among the services we tested that support 1080p/60fps streams on select platforms. Streaming at 4K resolution requires even more bandwidth (as well as a compatible device) and few services even support that resolution. FuboTV and YouTube TV are exception: Both broadcast some live events in 4K, though the latter requires you to pay an extra monthly fee for that capability.
Alternatives to Sports Streaming Services
Not all sports events require a subscription to watch them online. Major sports events such as the Super Bowl or The Masters are typically free to stream online. You can also purchase a TV antenna to get free over-the-air local channels, though the number and quality of said channels may vary wildly based on your location.
Yes, there are illegal options too. For example, there’s likely a sketchy subreddit (if it hasn’t already been shut down) or sports streaming site with several dozen hosted links for whatever sport and event you want to watch. We do not condone the use of these sites.
You won’t find esports on any of these services, but many game companies broadcast major events for free online. Twitch is your best bet for video game live streaming.
Hulu is a great streaming service for sports fans. The service includes all the major broadcast networks and many sports-specific cable channels such as BTN, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, and NBC Sports Network. It is missing a few league-specific channels, such as MLB Network, and NBA TV, as well as RSNs from AT&T and Sinclair (it has all the NBC Sports RSNs). That said, Hulu is adding NFL Network and NFL RedZone before the start of the next NFL season, and you can pay for the Español add-on ($4.99 per month) to get international sports coverage.
Like YouTube TV, Hulu also excels as a replacement for cable, with nearly as many news and entertainment channels at your disposal. Plus, a subscription to Hulu + Live TV includes access to Hulu’s expansive library of on-demand shows and movies.
In order to watch Peacock’s sports content, you must subscribe to its Premium tier. The main draw of Peacock for sports fans is its coverage of Premier League matchups and the Tour de France. In addition to hosting IndyCar and WWE content, the service recently debuted a live PGA Tour betting show. Peacock streamed an NFL playoff game last season, but it is not clear whether NBC will continue to add NFL coverage to the service.
Peacock’s on-demand library is most notably the home of The Office, but you also get older and current NBC shows such as 30 Rock, Cheers, Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, Will and Grace, Law & Order: SVU, Superstore, and This is Us.
The service doesn’t have any 4K content, DVR features for live sports, or the ability to download shows for offline playback, but you can stream on up to three devices at the same time and use parental controls to filter content. The Peacock app is available on mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and gaming consoles (Xbox One and Series X|S; PlayStation 4 and 5).
YouTube TV offers an excellent selection of live sports channels, including all the broadcast networks, CBS Sports Network, several ESPN Channels, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, Olympic Channel, and Tennis Channel. You can also pay an extra monthly fee for the Fox Soccer Plus ($15 per month), NBA League Pass ($39.99 per month), and Sports Plus ($10.99 per month package that includes NFL RedZone) add-ons. Note that YouTube TV does not offer international channels or the NFL Network, however. It is also missing AT&T and Sinclair RSNs, though it does have NBC Sports RSNs.
If you are looking for a service with more than just sports, YouTube TV meets that criteria with a good range of news and entertainment channels as well. This lineup of 90+ channels does not come cheap; the service’s latest price hike added $15 to the monthly subscription cost.
With YouTube TV, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage, and the service keeps your recordings for up to nine months. YouTube TV allows you to stream on up to three devices simultaneously and supports up to six user accounts. Those extra streams and accounts are particularly convenient for when family members want to watch different programs that are set to air at the same time. The service is also notably one of the few that streams a significant number of its live channels in 1080p/60fps. A new $19.99-per-month 4K Plus add-on enables subscribers to watch live and on-demand content in 4K; stream on an unlimited number of devices on a home network; and watch DVR content offline on mobile devices.
Amazon Prime Video qualifies as a sports streaming service mainly for its coverage of Thursday Night Football, WNBA matchups, select Yankees games for New York residents, and the option to add several sports-focused channels to your subscription, such as Paramount+, NBA League Pass, and PGA Tour Live. Amazon also produces the All or Nothing series which offers a behind-the-scenes look at various professional sports teams. Although it doesn’t cover nearly as many sports as some of its live TV competitors, Amazon Prime’s on-demand library of TV shows and movies (and especially its originals) add significant value.
Amazon’s video service works on a web browser, mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (including Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii), and Smart TVs. With Prime Video, you can stream on up to three devices simultaneously.
FuboTV is a great option for any cord-cutting sports fans. For the national sports events, there’s CBS, FOX, Golf Channel, NBA TV, NBC, NFL Network, TBS, and TNT. fuboTV includes AT&T and select Comcast RSNs, but lacks those from Sinclair.
For international sports, fuboTV is likely one of your best options. In addition to channels, such as beIN Sports, Fox Deportes, GOL TV, and TUDN, it offers many add-ons with international sports channels. FuboTV includes ESPN now too, though it is lost Turner channels, such as TNT.
Like other entries in this roundup, fuboTV’s lineup of news and entertainment channels is quite strong; it has lots of channels from Viacom and Discovery. Many TV shows and movies from those networks are also available to stream on-demand.
FuboTV’s starting tier includes 250 hours of DVR storage and fuboTV keeps those recordings for as long as you subscribe. You can pay for the Cloud DVR 1000 add-on ($16.99 per month) to expand your storage limit to 1,000 hours. Other cool features of fuboTV include Lookback, which lets you watch select sports programs from up to 72 hours after it aired, and Startover, which enables you to restart certain live events from the beginning.
FuboTV is available on the web or via dedicated apps for Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and Roku devices. You can stream on up to three devices simultaneously with the base plan, but the Unlimited Screens add-on ($9.99 per month) increases that limit to 10 devices on a home network. FuboTV’s live streams are limited to 720p, though it is one of the few services to offer any 4K streaming for live content. Most of its on-demand content can be streamed in 1080p.
Dazn caters mostly to fight fans and is a good value for that audience, since it does not require you to shell out pay-per-view (PPV) fees in addition to the subscription cost to watch premium fights. On the boxing side, it streams fights from promoters such as Golden Boy Promotions, Matchroom Boxing, GGG Promotions, and World Boxing Super Series. MMA partners include Bellator, Combate Americas, and KSW. Top Rank Boxing and UFC are notably absent.
Other sports on the service include cricket, darts, fishing, gymnastics, and J1 (Japan’s top soccer division) soccer matches. Dazn also produces some original sports content, including its live, daily MLB commentary show, Change Up, and the weekly, fighter-focused show, Sweet Scientists: Ak & Barak. Outside the US, Dazn offers NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL games.
Dazn doesn’t offer traditional DVR features, but every fight it streams is available to restart, rewind, and scrub through as soon as it airs. Dazn users can stream content on up to two devices simultaneously. Live events stream in 720p and about 60 FPS.
ESPN+ does not replace ESPN’s regular channels, but rather offers alternative live sports content for cord-cutters. ESPN+ features daily live sports events, including MLB and NHL games; national and international soccer league matches, and various NCAA sports events. Recently, ESPN+ secured a deal with the NHL that will get the streaming service 75 out-of-market NHL games, beginning with the 2021-2022 season and running through the 2027-2028 season. If you want to purchase streaming access to PPV UFC events, ESPN+ is the only way to do so. Unfortunately, this service does not include streams of ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasts or its live NBA coverage.
What ESPN+ does include is access to ESPN’s archives of prestige shows such as 30 for 30 and E:60. Again though, core ESPN shows, such as Around the Horn, First Take, NFL Live, Outside the Lines, Pardon the Interruption, and SportsCenter are not available on the service.
You can watch ESPN+ on the web or via the ESPN app on Android and iOS mobile platforms (Android and iOS), as well as media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and gaming devices (PlayStation 4 and 5 and the Xbox One Series S|X). Previously, ESPN+ supported five concurrent streams per account, but that limit has dropped down to three streams.
Locast is a cheap live TV streaming service that gives cord cutters access to local channels in 35 US markets. For sports fans, the ability to watch any games that broadcast on local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC channels is significant. In addition to regular coverage of NFL games on Sunday afternoon and nights, you can also watch some MLB, NASCAR, NHL, and PGA Tour events. Most championship games and series also air on one of these four networks.
Other notable channels on the service include PBS, Telemundo, and Univision. The remaining channels in the lineup vary depending on your location, but most fall into the lifestyle and entertainment category.
We like Locast’s support for four concurrent streams per account, but the service does not include any DVR capabilities, which may be a problem for some sports fans. You should also know that Locast is involved in ongoing litigation with the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) over its right to broadcast these channels free. In addition to watching Locast on the web, you can download apps for mobile platforms (Android and iOS) and media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, and TiVo).
Paramount+ (the replacement for CBS All Access) lets you stream a live feed of your local CBS channel as part of your subscription, though only if you pay for it’s $9.99-per-month ad-free tier. That means fans can watch live NFL games in their local market, the NCAA March Madness tournament, and select PGA Tour events. Paramount+ also includes tons of national and international soccer (Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Concacaf, Liga Profesional de Fútbol, National Women’s Soccer League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League).
A subscription gives you access to a substantial library of on-demand streaming content and some original shows, too. Among the on-demand titles offered by the service are All Rise, Bob Hearts Abishola, Cheers, CSI, Clarice, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Reno 911!, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Equalizer, The Good Wife, The Twilight Zone (classic and current), The Unicorn, and Twin Peaks. In addition to Star Trek Discovery and Picard, there’s another new live-action Star Trek series coming, called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Paramount+ supports up to three simultaneous streams per account. There’s no DVR feature, but subscribers to the ad-free tier can download on-demand titles for offline viewing. A representative confirmed that the service supports 1080/60fps live streams for owned-and-operated and large stations, and 720/30fps for others. That said, select on-demand titles are available in 4K, though, again only if you pay for the more-expensive tier. Paramount+ offers apps for your smartphone (iOS and Android), streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and game consoles (PS4 and Xbox One).
Sling TV splits its sports coverage across its Orange and Blue plan, with ESPN channels on the former and NFL Network and NBC Sports on the latter. You have to pay for the combined Orange & Blue Package ($50 per month combined) to get all of its sports channels. Sports fans should also consider adding the Sports Extra add-on ($11 per month) to get beIN Sports, ESPN U, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network. It also offers an NHL Center Ice add-on.
Sling TV falters in terms of its local channel coverage. You do not get CBS affiliates with Sling TV and watching local ABC channels requires an indoor antenna. Subscribers do get FOX and NBC affiliates in most major markets, however. Sling TV does not include RSNs from AT&T or Sinclair, but is has a couple from Comcast.