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Which live sports streaming service is right for you?
Streaming sports live can be tricky due to exclusive streaming contracts and blackout restrictions. The best streaming service for you depends on where you live and what teams you want to watch.
Before making a commitment to any live streaming service, make sure you’ll be able to see the games you want in your region. A quick internet search of your team’s broadcasting schedule for the season should give you an idea of what networks show the team’s games.
After you know which networks you’re looking for, you can check which streaming services offer those networks. However, it’s important to research the blackout restrictions in your area, as some live streaming services may limit their broadcasts based on region.
Below are the different ways live sports stream online.
Local networks :
Big networks like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC have local affiliates that are region-specific. These local networks air plenty of live games from pro leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. You can also find a good amount of college games on local networks.
To watch a local network in your area, you may only need a digital TV antenna. However, some live streaming services, such as Sling TV and YouTube TV, offer subscribers access to local networks through their service.
Regional sports networks :
Regional Sports Networks, or RSNs, are some of the best places to find live pro games, as well as college matchups. Most RSNs are subject to blackout restrictions, so where you live matters when you’re trying to watch a specific team.
Different streaming services will give you access to different RSNs. For example, the only streaming service that currently carries Bally Sports networks is AT&T TV. If you’re interested in a specific team that has a broadcast contract with one RSN for most of the games, make sure that RSN will be included in the streaming package you sign up for.
Major cable networks :
ESPN, TBS, and TNT are all large cable networks broadcast nationally. Some regular-season games in a few different pro leagues, such as the NFL and NBA, are broadcast on these national networks, and you can find pro tournaments here, as well.
Major cable networks are easier to find on streaming services than RSNs. And because these networks are broadcast across the country, U.S. viewers usually don’t have to worry about blackout restrictions. If you follow a team that plays lots of games on a big cable network, just check the subscription package details before signing up to make sure the network is included in the service.
Pro sports channels :
If there’s just one sport you’re interested in, there are a few different league-specific services you can try, such as NBA TV or MLB.TV. These premium services usually broadcast out-of-market games, as well as exclusive highlights and analyses.
You can find these league-specific streaming platforms as add-ons you can buy through other live streaming services, or you can purchase the platform as a stand-alone service.