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How to Watch ESPN Online, Without Cable – Full Guide

There’s no doubt ESPN doesn’t need introduction for cable lovers. It feels like it has stayed with us forever. This free cable exists since 1979, to be exact. Of course, every sports fan is well-familiar with this free cable. Throughout the years, the ESPN family has evolved and their offering currently includes several more sports channels than the original one.

While ESPN is initially originally a cable channel, it is currently available on several Internet-based IPTV services. We’ve searched the Internet for you and found several ways to watch ESPN online, without a cable subscription. In this article, we’ll tell you more about such a free miracle ESPN and its associated channels and reveal five ways you can watch it without a cable subscription. We’ll explain in detail each of these offerings, including their non-ESPN sports programming.

If you already know everything you are eager to know about free cable ESPN and just want to know how towatch it, feel free to go directly to the “Watching ESPN without cable” section utilizing our table of contents below.

Contents

ESPN IN A NUTSHELL

Originally an acronym for Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks, ESPN is a US-based free cable as well as satellite sports television channel. It is owned by ESPN Inc., a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (80%) and the Hearst Corporation (20%). They broadcast primarily from their studio facilities located in Bristol, Connecticut and operate offices in Miami, New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, and Los Angeles.

In the US, the free cable ESPN is available via cable or satellite TV to some 90,000,000 subscribers. The free cable ESPNalso broadcasts in more than 200 countries. It operates regional channels in Australia, Latin America, Brazil and the United Kingdom. It also owns a 20% interest in The Sports Network (TSN) as well as its five sister networks in Canada.

If you want to know more about the free cable ESPN, its history to say nothing of its rise turned to be the subject of a book: These Guys Have All the Fun, by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales and published by Little, Brown and Company.

MAIN ESPN LINEUP

Source: https://1000logos.net

Originally a single channel, the free cable ESPN currently offers nearly a dozen different channels and services.

ESPN and ESPN2 are the key channels. They provide varied live as well as pre-recorded sports events covering all major sports and also many minor ones as well. While ESPN2 was originally broadcasting different content from ESPN, both free channels are now equivalent. With so many simultaneous sports events in the US, two channels offer a much better coverage than just one.

The free cable ESPN3 is an Internet-only streaming channel. It is not available on cable or satellite TV. It carries major league sports as well as minor leagues, college sports, and less-popular sports such as cricket and lacrosse.

ESPNEWS is ESPN’s sports news channel. It utilized to focus precisely on sports news, highlights and also press conferences. But now includes reruns of ESPN’s various sports debate and entertainment shows and video simulcasts of ESPN Radio shows. It also serves as an overflow feed due to programming conflicts caused by sporting events on the other ESPN networks.

The free cable ESPNU focuses on college athletics such as basketball, football, baseball, college swimming, and hockey.

Also part of the major ESPN lineup, the free cable ESPN Deportes provides Spanish language simulcasts of certain Major League Baseball telecasts from ESPN. It became a 24-hour sports channel in January 2004.

OTHER ESPN CHANNELS

ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, as well as ESPN Bases Loaded is a game time-only free channel. It is only active during three college sports seasons; during college football season as ESPN Goal Line, college basketball season as ESPN Buzzer Beater, and through the NCAA Division I Softball Championship for college softball and NCAA Division I Baseball Championship for college baseballas ESPN Bases Loaded.

The free cable ESPN also runs two extra channels: The Longhorn Network and the SEC Network. TheLonghorn network focuses on events from the Texas Longhorns varsity sports teams of theUniversity of Texas at Austin. The SEC Network focuses on the coverage of sporting eventssanctioned by the Southeastern Conference. It is a joint venture between the conference and ESPNInc.

WATCHING ESPN WITHOUT CABLE

After thoroughly searching the Internet, we’ve found at least five different ways you can watchESPN without cable—or satellite. We’ll introduce you to each of them, let you know what ESPNcontent each is offering and explain their pricing structure. And since sports is not all about the free cable ESPN, we’ll also take a quick look at what other sports content each service provides.

OPTION 1: SLING TV

Sling TV, owned by Dish Network, is an Internet free TV streaming service. It enables you to watch its content on a computer, an Android- or iOS-based tablet or smartphone, several set-top gadgets such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, 4h generation Apple TV, Xbox One as well as many LG smart TVs. Packages start at $20 and a 7-days free trial is available

Source: sling.com

Recommended: How to Watch Sling TV Outside the U.S. – In Canada, UK, Australia

SLING TV’S PRICING STRUCTURE

Sling TV’s pricing structure might be somewhat complicated but it’s flexible enough. Sling calls it “A la Carte TV”. First, you have the base package. The cable Sling offers you a choice two different base packages: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. They differ in the number of channels each includes, and in the number of concurrent streams. Sling orange offers 30 channels while Sling Blue has more than 40—including localized sports channels in some areas—and allows streaming to multiple concurrent devices.

Cost wise, Sling Orange is worth $20 per month, while the cable Sling Blue is $25 per month. While there are some content overlaps between the two packages, some channels are unique to one or the other. Forinstance, Bravo, Fox or USA are only available with the Blue package while Freeform or Disney Channel are only on the Orange. For that reason, Sling offers a $5 discount when subscribing toboth. You can choose to add more channels to your lineup by means of Extras, which are smaller themed packages available for $5 a month. There’s a Sports Extra that includes several sportschannels as you’ll see in a moment. Other examples of not sports-related extras include the Hollywood extra, which includes movie channels such as Epix, TCM or Sundance TV, the Kids Extra that includes channels like Nick Jr, Boomerang or Disney Junior, or the Lifestyle Extra with channels like TheCooking Channel, DIY Network or Hallmark Channel.

ESPN CHANNELS ON SLING TV

Most of ESPN’s channels are offered on Sling TV. The Sling Orange base package includes thefollowing:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3

Adding the Sports Extra to Sling Orange gives you access to five more channels:

  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU
  • ESPN Bases Loaded
  • ESPN Buzzer Beater
  • ESPN Goal Line

For even more sports variety—and an exotic touch, the Spanish TV Extra adds ESPN Deportes tothe lineup.

OTHER SPORTS CHANNELS ON SLING TV

The Sling Blue package has the following:

  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • NBC Sports Network

Getting the Sports Extra with the Sling Blue package adds these:

  • NFL Red Zone
  • Golf Channel

And the Sports Extra with the Sling Orange package includes these channels:

  • NBA TV
  • beIN Sports
  • Campus Insiders
  • Motors TV
  • Univision Deportes

OPTION 2: PLAYSTATION VUE

PlayStation Vue is Sony’s Internet streaming TV offering. Founded in early 2015 and originally intended mostly to bring TV content to the PlayStation gaming consoles, it has evolved into a full-fledged IPTV service available on many gadgets. Its content can now also be viewed on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon TV, Android TV and Apple TV set-top boxes, on Android and iOS mobiledevices and on a computer via a web browser. More expensive than the previous option, packages of this cable start at $40 per month and there is a 7-days free trial available.

An interesting feature of the cable PlayStation Vue is its cloud-based DVR service, which enables you to record and also store live programming in the cloud on Sony’s servers for later viewing. You get the best of liveTV with the advantages of pre-recorded streams.

Source: playstation.com

PLAYSTATION VUE’S PRICING STRUCTURE

PlayStation Vue’s pricing structure is somewhat simpler than Sling TV’s with four progressive tiers. Their base-level package, Access, is available for $40 a month. It offers 55 different channels, including such selections as Discovery, Food Network, or SyFy. The following tier, Core, at $45 a month adds 16 more channels like IFC or TCM. The next level, Elite at $55 a month gives you25 more such as the Cooking Channel or Nat Geo Wild and the top-level Ultra, adds HBO and Showtime to your lineup.

ESPN CHANNELS ON PLAYSTATION VUE

At the Access level:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2

At the Core level:

  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU

And with an Elite subscription, you add ESPN Deportes to your selection.

OTHER SPORTS CHANNELS ON PLAYSTATION VUE

ESPN is not the only sports content you’ll get on PlayStation Vue. At the Access level, here are the other sports channels you get:

  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • NBC Sports Network

Move to the next level, Core, and you also get these:

  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NFL Network
  • Golf Channel

Further up, the Elite level lets you view 2 more channels:

  • Fox College Sports
  • One World Sports

And if you want even more, NFL Red Zone is available as a premium paid channel.

With 15 different sports channels, PlayStation is another great option for sports fans.

OPTION 3: DIRECTV NOW

The next streaming service we found that offers some ESPN content is DirecTV Now, thesubscription streaming service from AT&T. Much like Sling TV, DirecTV Now content can be watched on many TV set-top boxes, on Android as well as iOS portable devices, and also on a computer.

Source: directvnow.com

DIRECTV NOW’S PRICING STRUCTURE

Their pricing structure is quite simple and very similar to Sony’s with four progressive tiers. The most basic plan, Live a Little, includes some 70 channels like A&E, CNN, or HGTV for $35 a month. Next, you have the Just Right plan at $50 which adds over 25 channels, including IFC and OWN. Thefollowing tier, Go Big, goes for $60 per month and gives you 24 more channels like BBC WorldNews or Centric. The top level, Gotta Have It, adds six more channels including Starz and Encore and goes for $70 a month. And like with PlayStation Vue, a few individual extras are available at different monthly costs. A 7-days free trial is available with all subscription plans.

ESPN CHANNELS ON DIRECTV NOW

With the Live a Little plan:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2

With the Just Right plan:

  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU

OTHER SPORTS CHANNELS ON DIRECTV NOW

With the Live a Little plan:

  • Fox Sports 1

With the Just Right plan:

  • NBC Sports Network
  • MLB Network

With the Go Big plan

  • NBA TV
  • NHL Network
  • Fox Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • Tennis Channel

The Gotta Have It plan also includes Univision Deportes

YOUTUBE TV

Everyone knows a free online service YouTube but their streaming service, dubbed YouTube TV, is not as well-known. Just launched earlier this year, this cable is nowhere near as developed as the services previously mentioned. Content of this cable can be watched on a more limited number of devices. The service supports Android, iPhone, and iPad mobile devices, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay for viewing on the TV and desktop or laptop computers. Like PlayStation Vue, the cable YouTube TV also includes a free cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage. You can record live broadcast of this cable and watch them later from anywhere.

Source: tv.youtube.com

YOUTUBE TV’S PRICING STRUCTURE

A single plan is available for $35 a month. It includes the five major US networks as well as about 40 cable channels. Their lineup is quite basic, although includes crucial channels such as AMC or USA. Thebest thing about this cable’s pricing is that it’s the only option to offer a full 30-days free trial.

ESPN CHANNELS ON YOUTUBE TV

The cable YouTube TV currently offers four ESPN channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU

YouTube has announced that the cable ESPN3 should soon be available as well.

OTHER SPORTS CHANNELS ON YOUTUBE TV

The cable service also provides these five additional sports channels:

  • CBS Sports Network
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • NBC Sports Network

HULU WITH LIVE TV

Hulu, another well-known streaming content cable provider now offers in beta its Hulu with Live TVservice. Their offering is quite simple with a single plan, which includes more than 50 channels for $39.99 a month. Their lineup is as basic as YouTube TV’s but includes stations like CNN, Lifetime or TBS which theother does not. A 7-days free trial is available. Another advantage of the cable is that it includes the Hulu with limited commercials plan for pre-recorded content. As of this writing, content can be watched on a very limited number of devices. Only iOS, Android, Apple TV (4th gen), Xbox One, and Chromecast are supported, with more coming soon.

Source: hulunull

ESPN CHANNELS ON HULU WITH LIVE TV

The cable Hulu with Live TV currently provides four ESPN channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU

OTHER SPORTS CHANNELS ON HULU WITH LIVE HULU TV

They have the exact same sports lineup as YouTube TV:

  • CBS Sports Network
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • NBC Sports Network

AND THE WINNER IS…

With the largest number of ESPN-specific channels, even at the most basic tier, and the largest number of sports channels in general, Sling TV appears to be a clear winner. Moreover, it is also the cheapest option. PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now are quite similar, both in the number of channels and cost. PlayStation Vue might be the better option if its cloud DVR function is crucial to you. At the bottom of the list, both YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV are limited but good options that might become more interesting in the future as their respective offerings evolve. The cloud DVR function of YouTube TV gives it a slight edge over Hulu with live TV.

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