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Last updated on May 06, 2020

The Best Sports Streaming Service

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How We Reviewed The Best Sports Streaming Services

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9 sports considered

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6 streaming services tested

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3 top picks

The Best Sports Streaming Services

The best sports streaming services should provide coverage of America’s four major leagues, all the big games on a national stage, and even smaller regional games being played in your backyard — all at an affordable price. To be considered the best, simultaneous streams on multiple devices were a must, as was the convenience of a month-to-month contract. We tested five prominent streaming services to uncover which provide the best value and most robust package of sports channels and features.

The 3 Best Sports Streaming Services

    The Best Sports Streaming Services: Summed Up

    YouTube TV Fubo TV Sling
    Best Value Best for Soccer Fans Best on a Budget
    Recommended sports package Base ($50) Standard ($55) Orange + Blue ($45)
    Total sports Channels* 32 39 12
    Total sports Channels with add-ons* 34 50+ 12
    Cloud DVR Storage Unlimited 30 hours free; 500 hours for $10 per month 50 hours for $5 per month
    Simultaneous Streams 3 2 (3 for $6 per month) 4
    Free trial 1 Week 1 week 1 week
    Add-on sports packages NBA League Pass ($28.99/mo.) Fox Soccer Plus ($49.99/mo.) Sports Plus ($11/mo.) International Sports Plus ($6/mo.) Adventure Plus ($5/mo.) fubo Cycling ($12/mo.) Latino Plus ($8/mo.) Portuguese Plus ($15/mo.) Sports Extra ($10/mo.) NBA League Pass ($28.99/mo.)

    *Not including RSNs or add-on packages

    YouTube TV

    Best Value
    YouTube TV

    YouTube TV

    Pros

    All the national games
    Strong offering of regional sports networks
    Free unlimited cloud DVR storage
    Three simultaneous streams

    Cons

    Missing NFL and NHL Network
    Limited offering of soccer channels

    Why we chose it

    All the national games

    YouTubeTV is one of the few streaming services to carry all four of the major broadcast networks (NBC, Fox, CBS, and ABC), allowing you to watch every national game from America’s top four leagues — the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. The base package also includes essential channels like ESPN, TNT, and TBS — ensuring devoted fans have all the more access to high-level professional baseball, basketball, and soccer games. Our favorite aspect, however, is the inclusion of the MLB Network, NBA TV, Golf and Tennis Channel — a combination that no other streaming sites includes in their base package. In our eyes, this unmatched channel lineup makes YouTubeTV the most well-rounded sports streaming service on the market.

    Strong offering of regional sports networks

    We know that catching local team games is a necessity for sports fans, and YouTubeTV has one of the largest collection of regional sports networks around. Previously, this claim went to PlayStation Vue, but with Vue getting shuttered, YouTube takes the title. It includes nearly every channel under the Fox Sports, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports Networks umbrella, as well as independents like the YES Network. That means you’ll always have a way to access your favorite MLB, NBA, and NHL teams’ local games, and even most regional college games.

    Unlimited cloud DVR storage

    One of the greatest features of YouTubeTV is its unlimited cloud storage. Whether you’re running late for the game, or wanting to skip through endless commercials, this feature will surely save you a few dozen headaches. And while most providers place limits on storage space, YouTubeTV is fully unlimited and saves your recordings for nine months.

    Three simultaneous streams

    While most streaming services only allow one or two devices to stream from the same account at the same time, YouTubeTV gives you three. This may not seem all that generous at first, but when you compare across other streaming services, you’ll find that having a second or third screen often comes at an additional cost. For larger households looking to stream different games at the same time, this feature is sure to deliver on everyone’s sports fix.

    Points to consider

    Missing NFL and NHL Network

    Unfortunately, NFL Network is still limited to Sling and Fubo, which means you won’t have the ability to add NFL Redzone to your YouTube TV. However, the service does carry the four major networks that air the majority of games — CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN. And since NFL Network only airs Thursday Night Football, you’re really only missing 16 regular season games out of 256. As far as the NHL Network, Sling and AT&T TV Now are the only two streaming services that carry the channel. And unlike the NFL network, the NHL network airs multiple games a week, making it all the more frustrating for hockey fans who don’t have access. Without any add-ons to acquire this channel, hockey fans will have to look elsewhere.

    Limited offering of soccer channels

    YouTubeTV isn’t the best option for fans of international soccer. Although it carries essential channels like NBC Sports for the English Premier League and FS1 for MLS games, YouTubeTV merely scratches the surface of soccer coverage. It doesn’t feature one of the most comprehensive soccer networks, beIN Sports, which streams games from La Liga and other prominent soccer leagues. If soccer is what you watch the most, FuboTV devotes many more channels to the sport and is a much better option.

    FuboTV

    Best for Soccer
    fuboTV

    fuboTV

    Pros

    10 soccer channels
    Strong offering of regional sports networks
    30 hours of free cloud DVR storage
    Sports in 4K

    Cons

    Only two simultaneous streams
    Missing ESPN and ABC

    Why we chose it

    10 soccer channels

    Fubo blows the competition out of the water in one very specific area: European soccer leagues. It has more than 10 different channels devoted almost entirely to the sport, with eight versions of beIN Sports, the exclusive broadcaster of La Liga, Ligue 1, Copa del Rey, Copa Libertadores, Football League Championship matches, and Real Madrid TV. In addition, Fubo carries NBC Sports, the U.S. provider of English Premier League games, generally regarded as the top league in the world. If all that isn’t enough for soccer junkies, Fubo also carries a number of channels that broadcast MLS games like Fox, FS1, Fox Soccer Plus, Univision, and 11 channels of TUDN (an American Spanish sports channel).

    Strong offering of regional sports networks

    If you follow the MLS more than the European leagues, Fubo’s extensive collection of regional sports networks make it a strong option. It has all of the Fox Sports and NBC Sports stations, as well as independents like the MSG Network and NESN. You can check to see if your local NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL teams, and college teams are covered in Fubo’s local networks guide.

    If you want a service primarily to follow your local MLS team, just be sure to check your zip code before purchasing: Teams like Los Angeles FC and Chicago Fire have exclusive deals with streaming services like YouTube TV and ESPN+, so you won’t be able to find them in any other cable or streaming package.

    30 hours of free cloud DVR storage

    Fubo offers 30 hours of storage for free, but you can upgrade to 500 hours for $10 per month. There’s no option for upgrading, but unlike YouTube TV and AT&T TV Now, you can keep the content for as long as you want, so you won’t have to worry about a show deleting itself before you can watch it.

    Sports in 4K

    If you’ve recently purchased a 4K TV, Fubo might be worth a look for this perk alone. No type of TV benefits more from 4K’s increased resolution and frame rates than sports, and Fubo is currently the only live streaming service to offer this. It regularly shows college football, MLB, and Premier League games on the Big Ten Network, FS1, and NBC Sports. That said, Fubo admits this feature is still in BETA, so there may still be some issues, plus the 4K feature is only available for select sports. To see what games are coming up in 4K, check out Fubo’s calendar here.

    Points to consider

    Only two simultaneous streams

    If you live in a small household, two devices streaming from one account might be plenty. But if you have a bigger family with diverse TV tastes, this might not be enough. Fubo does let you up that number to three for an extra $5.99 a month. Still, we prefer providers who offer between three and five streams right off the bat, without requiring you to pay extra.

    Missing ESPN and ABC

    For the last several years, Fubo has faced pressure from its subscribers to add ESPN and ABC. The company recently revealed acquiring both ESPN and ABC exclusively isn’t an option as they would have to purchase the full Disney lineup — which would ultimately raise the cost of their packages. Seeing as this will likely be the case for the foreseeable future, you have a few options to acquire these channels. For ESPN, you can purchase ESPN+, giving you live access to an array of sports including MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL. ABC, on the other hand, can be reached by prehistoric means — a TV antenna. Although antennas can cost up to $50, you’ll receive access to all four major networks, including ABC.

    Sling

    Best on a Budget
    Sling

    Sling TV

    Pros

    Inexpensive packages
    Cheap sports add-on
    Plenty of regional sports networks

    Cons

    Missing ABC and CBS
    No free DVR storage
    Limited simultaneous streaming

    Why we chose it

    Inexpensive packages

    Compared to YouTube TV’s base package ($50) and Fubo’s Standard ($55), Sling’s Orange + Blue ($45) gets you a lot of the same sports channels for less money. Of the many channels that broadcast live games from the top four sports in America, Sling carries 12 of them, fewer than YouTube TV’s 23 but more than AT&T NOW’s 11. You won’t be able to catch every national game, but you will get most of them.

    Cheap sports add-on

    If you don’t mind paying a little extra for more sports channels, Sling gives you that option at a reasonable price. For $10 more a month, you can add league-specific channels like NBA TV, MLB Network, and NHL Network, plus college sports hubs like SEC Network, Pac-12 Network, and ESPN U. That brings its total for the top four sports up to 25 — two more than YouTubeTV for only $5 more a month.

    Plenty of regional sports networks

    If you want to watch your local MLB, NBA, or NHL teams, Sling has as good of coverage as almost any streaming site. It carries both Fox Sports and NBC Sports, which cover about 75% of local teams in the U.S. The teams it is missing are concentrated in three markets: Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. You won’t be able to catch local games from the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, or Los Angeles Lakers with Sling.

    Points to consider

    Missing ABC and CBS

    This is the biggest black mark on Sling’s otherwise stellar sports offering. Without ABC and CBS, you’ll miss some of the biggest games of the year, including the AFC and NFC Championship, the NBA Finals, and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. As CBS is one of the main broadcasters of the NFL, there’s a good chance you’ll miss some of your local team’s games without it.

    One way around this is to install a TV antenna. These run for about $50, can be set up inside or outside, and give you access to all of your local channels in HD for free. CBS also offers CBS All Access — a subscription streamings service starting at $5.99 that’s available on most Sling supported devices. Another option is to use Locast.org, a not-for-profit service that lets you stream local stations in 15 U.S. markets for free.

    No free DVR storage

    Sling is the only one of the six main live TV streaming sites that doesn’t include any DVR storage for free. If you want that feature, you’ll have to pay $5 extra a month for 50 hours of storage.

    Limited simultaneous streaming

    Your Sling subscription will dictate how many devices you can stream at the same time. Sling Orange + Blue offers simultaneous streaming on four different screens, and Sling Blue, three screens, but Sling Orange can only be used to stream on one screen at a time.

    How We Chose the Best Sports Streaming Services

    The Streaming Services We Tested

    • Hulu
    • Sling
    • Youtube TV
    • AT&T TV NOW
    • Fubo

    Month-to-month contracts

    One of the biggest appeals of live TV streaming is that you’re not locked into a long contract. Some cable companies will charge as much as $200 if you want to get out of your contract early. By contrast, all of the streaming services we tested operate on a month-to-month basis. You can stop at any time, with no early termination penalty.

    National games

    We looked for streaming sites that carry the national games people most wanted to watch. To figure this out, we turned to a 2018 Gallup survey that asked 1,049 Americans, “What is your favorite sport to watch?” We used these results to prioritize the providers that covered the most popular sports. Since more people watch football than golf, for example, we gave more points to packages that included the NFL Network than the Golf Channel. Some providers had almost identical lineups, save for a couple of specific channels: For instance, the only difference between Hulu and AT&T TV Now’s base package is that Hulu includes the Golf Channel.

    Regional sports networks

    These are the channels that carry your local MLB, NBA, and NHL team’s games, and they’re the most important channels for a lot of sports fans. One study from Nielsen and FOX found that in many cities, these networks draw larger prime time audiences than the “big four” networks ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Because regional sports networks (RSN) are the only way to catch your local team’s games, they’re also what keep many fans tied to their cable subscriptions.

    About two thirds of RSNs are operated by Fox or NBC, with the rest run independently by the local teams themselves. We put in zip codes for every major league market to find the streaming packages that had the largest collection of RSNs out there.

    YouTube TV
    Fubo TV
    Sling
    Hulu + Live TV
    DIRECTV NOW
    Fox Sports
    NBC Sports
    NESN
    MSG
    YES

    *Not available in all markets

    Extra perks

    In addition to evaluating each streaming service’s offering of live games, we also took into account extra perks like cloud DVR storage and simultaneous streams. Cloud DVR storage allows you to record programs and watch them later on-demand — nice when you’re running late and don’t want to miss the beginning of the game. Simultaneous streams let you use the service on multiple devices at the same time, essential for anyone in a house with frequent remote wars.

    Guide to Live Sports Streaming

    How to watch live sports without a cable subscription

    Explore current promotions

    It’s a good time to sign up for a streaming service. Companies are in an arms race to obtain channels and customers, and just about every service is offering deals to entice you. Sling, for example, is offering free equipment, and reducing all packages by $10 for the first month when you sign up.

    Connect to your TV

    To watch live sports, you’ll need a strong internet connection (see below for recommended speeds) along with a way to access the internet through your TV. Most TVs sold in the past several years have the technology necessary to connect directly to the internet. You can also use a gaming console like Xbox or PlayStation. However, these options may not allow you to download the specific streaming service app that you’ve settled on. If you don’t have a TV or console (or it’s just not compatible), you’ll need to purchase a streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV separately.

    Supported-Devices-for-Streaming

    Sports Streaming FAQ

    What is a regional sports network (RSN)?

    Regional sports networks are the cable channels that broadcast your local teams’ live games. Because these channels represent the only way to see most MLB, NBA, and NHL games live, they’re extremely important for sports fans. Most of them are operated by Fox Sports and NBC Sports. Almost all streaming services have deals with these two companies, but it’s important to check availability in your zip code, as some areas have more access than others (and deals are constantly being renegotiated, as evinced by Disney’s recent sale of Fox Sports RSNs to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.).

    Which streaming service offers the most NFL coverage?

    Sling and Fubo lead the pack in NFL coverage as both services carry five out of the six networks that broadcast games — CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, NFL Network, and NFL Redzone. Both providers carry the NFL Network and give you the ability to add NFL Redzone for an additional $10. Where the two differ lies in the availability of CBS (Sling) and ESPN (Fubo), which cover Sunday football games and Monday Night Football respectively. However, the difference in coverage between these two channels is what really separates these providers. Since CBS airs well over 100 regular season games, while ESPN only airs 16, Fubo’s NFL coverage is far superior to Sling.

    Which sports streaming service covers the most sports?

    Fubo covers the most sports, which feels appropriate for “the world’s only sports focused live TV streaming service.” Including its various add-on options, Fubo provides access to all the major sports in the U.S. (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, Tennis, Golf), and a plethora of soccer leagues at home and abroad — like the MLS, the Premier League, and La Liga. Fubo even supplies access to motorsports, outdoor sports, cycling, and NASCAR. The only sport which lacks sufficient coverage is hockey: Fubo only has 3 of the six available channels that broadcast NHL games and no add-on option for the NHL Network. The other biggest absence is ABC, which shows several big games in the NFL and NBA each year.

    How can I improve streaming quality?

    Buffers, pauses, low-res and blurred images are frustrating indicators of a poor streaming connection. For a smooth streaming experience with strong and consistent connection and sharp picture, try these tips:

    • Upgrade your router
    • Keep your router in a good location and away from clutter
    • Turn off competing devices
    • Limit the number of tasks on your network (ie: close or exit any background programs you’re not using)
    • If able, use an ethernet connection instead of WiFi

    If those steps fail, consider getting a higher-speed plan from your internet service provider.

    About the Authors

    The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.