Whether you have decided to leave cable behind, or just need more access to your favorite sports team, you may be in the market for purchasing a specific game streaming package. Most professional sports leagues own the rights to all of their video and offer their own proprietary streaming service. Services for providing streaming video vary widely among the leagues. There are various pricing plans, features and availability on platforms. Take note if you plan on watching from overseas as your location can also affect availability.
Television sets continue to become more internet-ready and blue the line between television and computer. It is only a matter of time until you can use your television to register for these services and watch them. In the mean time, most of these services are meant to be watched on with the help of another device (i.e. Roku, Apple TV, or Boxee) and on a laptop. If you are forced to stream video to your laptop, keep in mind that the solution to transfer the laptop audio and video to your television is very simple.
Major League Baseball games are exclusively carried by MLB.tv. This is a well established service which is available on a wide variety of platforms (Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and iPad Touch, Android phones, Playstation, Roku, Boxee and more). There are 2 service packages. The more expensive, “premium,” plan offers home and away broadcasts, DVR controls, and “picture in picture” functionality for watching multiple games at once. A great bonus is the ability to watch 150 select spring training games in addition to the entire regular season. Also, MLB.tv is available to most other countries outside the United States.
NBA games are exclusively carried by NBA League Pass, which comes in the satellite television packages or broadband and mobile varieties. The NBA League Pass can be added to your satellite television plan (prices vary) and then you will be able to watch on your television or computer. Alternatively, you can order the NBA League Pass broadband which is meant to be on computers only. The NBA League Pass Broadband offers 2 service packages, which differ on the number of teams which can be watched.
NBA League Pass Mobile, available for $29.99, is compatible with Apple devices running version 3.1+ operating systems and Android devices running version 1.6+ operating systems. There is only one plan which offers the following features:
NBA League Pass International is available for fans in over 200 countries outside the United States.
NHL GameCenter Live provides NHL games on PC, iPad, Playstation, Roku and Boxee. Games are also available on Blackberry, Android and iPhones with occasional limitations on live games. There is only one service package which starts at $169.00 at the beginning of the season and continues to decline as the season continues and there are fewer games left in the season. The viewer has the option to pay for a single season or on a monthly basis.
Overseas fans in Europe (except Italy and Russia) or the Middle East may watch live games with a subscription to ESPN Player. Go to: espnplayer.com and choose the NHL Center Ice package to get live games on demand.
The NFL appears to be significantly lagging behind the online streaming content curve. Fortunately for the NFL fans, their games are readily available on DirecTV and free over-the-air public television broadcasts. However, for the fan on the go, there is one option for watching the games on your laptop or mobile device, albeit fairly pricey. NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, which is offered by DirecTV for a one-time payment of $350, allows you to get every game outside your local market, every Sunday, LIVE on your computer, tablet, or phone. Despite the price, this is a compelling option since you do not need to have DirecTV service to get access.
Oddly enough, NFL offers a service called NFL Game Pass for international viewers. Specifically, NFL Game Pass is not available in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Antigua, the Bahamas and any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths (including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
For the truly desperate, there is an online forum called “WiZiWiG,” which posts links to NFL game streaming video links each Sunday. Click on this link, pick the stream you want, and follow the instructions to watch it live in a supported player like VLC.
Collegiate and Other Sports
For collegiate and lower-visibility sports – i.e. soccer, lacrosse, boxing, softball, etc. – there is ESPN3, which is available in certain on U.S. regions (depending on your Internet Service Provider). ESPN3 is also free on military bases and U.S. college campuses. ESPN3 is a broadband network for live sports programming. ESPN3 harnesses the quality ESPN has built through its TV networks and delivers online sports programming to fans through a rich, interactive, and easy-to-use experience. ESPN3 broadcasts thousands of live games and events online each year. A majority of the events are exclusive to ESPN3, while others are broadband-enhanced versions of games from one of ESPN’s TV networks. Games are always available on Xbox 360, but cannot be viewed on any other mobile devices.
If you have exhausted all other options, make sure to check sites like UStream Sports, First Row Sports, and Stream2Watch for many more choices you probably won’t find elsewhere. These are not officially sanctioned sites, so quality and availability are always consistent.