It’s fun to be a sports fan during certain seasons. As the leaves change and the air becomes crisper, it’s the perfect time to put on your favorite jersey and sweats and cozy up on the couch to watch other, more talented individuals compete. The NFL season is well underway, baseball is closing up and the hot stove is heating up, and the NBA and NHL are just getting started. There’s also soccer. Soccer is always an option.
The disadvantage is that, as a cable user, even watching those events costs you a portion of the hundreds or thousands of dollars you pay your provider each month. Or maybe you won’t be able to see them because you cut the cord and only have Netflix and HBO Max, foregoing the thrills of sports competition in favor of those found in Dahmer and House of the Dragon.
The MLB, NFL, and NBA, three of the top four major sports leagues in the United States, each offer their own subscription service for out-of-market games, making them perfect for fans who reside far away from their favorite club. (The NHL’s dedicated service, NHL.tv, will be absorbed into ESPN+ in 2021.)
The fantastic 6 streams for 2022 is that the NFL’s dreaded Sunday Ticket will be replaced with the all-new NFL+. First and foremost, it is significantly less expensive, costing $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year – a $60 savings over the previous service. This includes all out-of-market games, as well as radio play-by-play and mobile access to local broadcasts, so you can watch your favorite team play on your phone or tablet. NFL+ Premium, which includes on-demand condensed and whole game rebroadcasts as well as “All-22” game film that displays a bird’s-eye perspective of the entire field during the action, costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 annually.
Except for regional restrictions and national broadcasts on channels such as ESPN and TNT, NBA League Pass provides you access to every game. (If you’re an avid fan, blacked-out games are available worldwide for rewatching a few hours after they end.) You can choose to watch a single team’s broadcast for $90 every season, the entire league for $100 on one device, or both for $130 if you want to watch it on both. Access to NBA TV, classic games, and original programming are all included in the membership.
The idea behind Sling is that it provides some broadcast and a lot of cable channels at a much lower cost than, say, Xfinity or Spectrum. Orange and Blue are the two basic bundles with differing channel lineups. Sling recommends Orange for NBA fans since it contains three ESPN channels and TNT, while Blue is ideal for college basketball because it includes TBS and truTV. Both are available for $50 per month.
The main disadvantage of Sling is that it only carries NBC and Fox, but not ABC or CBS, which broadcasts much of the important NCAA basketball action, including the championship game. If you want additional sports, there’s an $11 add-on package that includes NBA TV, MLB, and NHL networks, Tennis Channel, and college sports from ESPNU and the SEC and ACC networks. If you enjoy boxing coverage, Showtime is an extra $10. (Or consider Yellowjackets sports).
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu’s live-TV option is similar to Sling, but it features 65 channels, 14 of which are dedicated completely to sports, as well as its streaming library and a bundle that includes Disney+ and ESPN+. Local stations, ESPN, FS1 and 2, CBS Sports, TNT, NFL Network, Golf Channel, and, for college basketball, TBS and truTV are available, among many more. Depending on where you live, you may have access to a regional sports channel, such as SNY, the home of the New York Mets. It is possible to add NFL RedZone, the Outdoor and Sportsman stations, and TVG for horse racing. However, no NFL Network, MLB Network, or NBA TV are available in New York.
Except for the NFL Network and a few NBC sports programs, DirecTV has about every sports channel you could want. The standard $70 plan includes ESPN and some other sports alternatives, while the $85 Choice service includes college, regional, MLB, and NBA networks. For an additional $10, you can receive six additional sports channels, including CBS, NHL, Golf, and Sportsman. It allows you to stream its material on up to 20 devices at the same time, which you may find important if you operate a bar, have a large family, or live in a frat house.
Fubo essentially has all of the major cable alternatives, except TNT, TBS, and truTV (sorry, March Madness fans), and out-of-market NBA games, unless you sign up for League Pass for $15 per month. Aside from that, you can experiment with the packages and add-ons to see which configuration is best for you. For example, there’s an $11 per month, quarterly-billed add-on dedicated to foreign sports, notably soccer, featuring ESPN and Fox’s Deports channels, as well as Real Madrid’s private channel. There’s something for everyone here, save those who crave Shaq and Barkley’s analysis on TNT.
NBC’s streaming service includes a lot of sports, but it’s a bit fragmented outside of Premier League soccer and the Olympics. During football season, Peacock will air Sunday night games as well as the Football Night in America pregame show, and starting this May, Peacock will air Sunday morning baseball, with a select slate of games beginning at 11:30 a.m. and noon ET. So it’s a cheap alternative if you’re looking for specific sports — or if you just want to spend $5 for a single month to watch the Olympics the next time they come around.