Cut the Cord but Keep Your Sports
For movies and television lovers, cutting the cord is a relatively simple procedure. Most content providers now a days want you to consume their product wherever and whenever. However, it is a bit more complicated process when it comes to cordcutting for sports fans. Most professional sports leagues have very lucrative deals with cable providers and advertisers; and they don’t want to jeopardize that relationship by offering stand-alone streaming subscription packages. Sadly for many would be cord cutters, accessing sports is the one sticking point that keeps them from making the switch.
However, contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of options out there for the sports loving cord cutter; options that the cable companies don’t want you to know about. Today we are going to talk about a few of the many options you have to kill your cable bill while keeping your favorite sports. Let’s get started.
Sports on OTA
If you asked me what the simplest, cheapest, and most effective way of watching sports without cable was; I would emphatically say the use of an Over-the-Air (OTA) antenna. An OTA antenna picks up the signal from the national broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CW) and broadcasts it to your television. In short, an OTA antenna is the rabbit ears of the 21st century.
By using an OTA antenna, you get access to games from every professional and collegiate sport you can think of: baseball, basketball, football, etc… Of course you won’t be able to watch every game for every sport; but you will gain access to a large swathe of the sports programming available. When you take into consideration the amount of content you get for the cost, there is no better option than an OTA antenna.
There are a lot of ways to watch NFL these days. As I mentioned above, the best option for watching NFL games is with your OTA antenna. You’ll be able to catch almost every regular season Thursday and Sunday game that’s broadcast in your area. One of the best supplemental options for the cord cutting football fanatic (in addition to an HDTV antenna) is NFL GamePass. NFL GamePass offers a three tiered system packed with extras features that are more than enough to keep you entertained in-between game days.
A limitation to NFL GamePass, as well as some other subscription services, is that it is only available to customers outside of the United States. Fortunately, you can circumvent this regional lockout by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I won’t bore you on the details (you can read more about accessing NFL GamePass in the US here), but essentially a VPN reroutes your internet traffic through public servers in other countries. By doing that, the VPN tricks internet severs into thinking you’re in another country; which gives you access to these blocked out programs.
If you aren’t as tech-savvy and would rather not set up a VPN, there are other options to satiate your NFL cravings. The most comprehensive is NFL Sunday Ticket that lets you watch all the games with your video game console, streaming device, mobile device, and more. Other options that are great complements to watching live with your HDTV antenna include NFL AudioPass and NFL GameRewind.
Ah baseball, the great American pastime. Unlike other sports, baseball isn’t heavily broadcasted over the air, so most baseball fans are stuck buying cable. However, there is a streaming service called MLB.TV which allows you to watch live broadcasts of out of market baseball games (non home team games) for $10 a month. Sadly, you also don’t get access to playoff games if you’re in the US. MLB has some intense rules when it comes to black-outs, so you’re better off routing your VPN through a different country as opposed to a different state. Also, there have been rumors of MLB checking the billing address of users suspected of using a VPN; so don’t go shouting it to the world.
Hockey is a wonderful sport. Who doesn’t love seeing grown men pound the crap out of each other while gliding on razor sharp blades attached to their feet? Hockey fans don’t get a lot of love from the major sports broadcasters, but in a way that works in favor of hockey fans. For $150 or eight payments of $20, you can get access to almost all your favorite hockey games with NHL GameCenter. Unlike MLB.TV or NFL GameDay Pass, you don’t have to use a VPN to access every game. Although regional and in-market games are not available live, they do become available on-demand 48 hours later. If you’re not so patient, you can use a VPN to access in-market games live. You don’t get access to the Stanley Cup with GameCenter, but you can watch that on NBC so all you need is an OTA antenna.
For millions of Americans, there is no football or baseball; there is only basketball. If you are not content with catching only regional over-the-air broadcasts of games, then you might want to consider NBA League Pass. For $150, League Pass gives you access to every out of market regular game; and if you use a VPN you can get every game. Unfortunately, the US version of League Pass does not cover playoffs or the finals.
However, if you use a VPN you can get League Pass international. The premium version gives you access to every game, regular season AND post season. The prices vary, depending on which country you route your VPN through. Don’t use Australia or you will pay a staggering $300. Argentina is the cheapest, running you about $130 for the whole season.
Would-be cord cutters don’t have to go without their favorite sport to liberate themselves from burdensome cable bills. Most of your worries can be solved by getting an OTA antenna, and you can fill in the gaps by using a VPN and whatever streaming service your sport of choice provides. Although every package discussed today comes with a price tag, you have the flexibility to pick and choose exactly which sports, games, and options are best for you instead of being tethered to bulky sports packages & ongoing monthly bills with cable and satellite.
Dave Kennedy is a long time cordcutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Sine then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.