Cordcutting: Sports

Getting Live Sports without a Cable Bill

It’s not easy. Often enough, those intrepid explorers who are looking to dump their pricey cable package in favor of the choices offered by the internet are stymied by the low availability of live sports. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can fill that gap.

  • OTA Broadcasts – Over The Air means getting an antenna, mileage may vary depending on your location
  • Free/paid first-party streams – Streams available online from ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, etc
  • Free third-party streams – Streams made available by other users
    • XBMC Add-ons that use those streams

Over The Air – Antenna

Using an antenna means physically mounting an antenna on your house, or mounting a smaller one on/near your TV. Either antenna will have a coaxial cable that you then plug directly into the corresponding jack on the back of your TV. Since you’re not paying for any service (the only thing you should have paid for is the antenna itself), there’s no one you can complain to if you don’t get the channels you expected. Also, a fair amount of other issues come in to play:

  • Antennas should be placed where they have a clear view to the sky as few trees in the way as possible
  • The closer to a major-metropolitan area you place your antenna, the better selection of channels you’ll get
  • Outdoor antennas can be damaged by wind, rain and lightening
  • Indoor antennas can be damaged by children or pets
  • Both are often thought of as eyesores, and your local home owners association may not allow outdoor antennas of a certain size

However, the large majority of professional sports will be on channels that you can often pick up with an antenna (NBC, ABC, Fox). To get an estimate on what kind of antenna you’ll need and what channels you’ll be able to pick up, check out AntennaWeb. They’ll walk you through a quick process to determine your location and what stations you can reach. When purchasing, you should look for an antenna that is digital and HD capable and picks up the proper spectrum that was recommended to you at AntennaWeb.

Free/Paid First Party Streams

Generally streams right from the league or licensed broadcast partners.

In this section I’m just going to give some links, the sports they carry, the carrier and whether it’s free or paid. Please let me know in the comments what I’m missing anything.

Free Third Party Streams

Quality is not always as good, but there are generally a few streams to choose from for any giving sporting event. The ads on these sites can sometimes be vicious and this author advises the use of Adblock.

XBMC Streaming Sports Add-Ons

XBMC has a few add-ons that help to get our sport content onto our HTPC, without the need for an external browser. I can recommend the use of two that I use on a regular basis, but I’m sure others are out there:

If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments!


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